New talks to allow Indian Sikhs to visit Pakistan shrine without visa

New talks to allow Indian Sikhs to  visit Pakistan shrine without visa
The corridor will allow Indian Sikhs to visit the shrine in Pakistan. (Social media)
Updated 14 July 2019

New talks to allow Indian Sikhs to visit Pakistan shrine without visa

New talks to allow Indian Sikhs to  visit Pakistan shrine without visa
  • Pakistan also has its own fears that the elevated bridge at the border might come handy for India in launching aggression at the time of tensions

NEW DELHI: India and Pakistan are starting a new round of talks on finishing the Kartarpur Corridor today, discussing pressing issues such as the completion of roads, logistical problems and security concerns.
The proposed border corridor connects the Sikh shrines of Dera Baba Nanak in India’s Punjab and Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur in Pakistan’s Panjab.
The corridor would allow religious devotees from India to visit the shrine in Kartarpur, 4.7 kilometers from the Pakistan-India border, without a visa. The last talks were held in March this year.
The second round of talks on Sunday at the Wagah border in Pakistan is aimed at completing all the formalities of the corridor by Oct. 31 so that the pilgrims can use the corridor for the upcoming pilgrimage which coincides with the anniversary of the birth of Sikhism’s founder, Guru Nanak.
The Indian government is working on a sophisticated passenger terminal and a four-lane approach road and bridge to the Pakistani border for pilgrims. According to media reports the two sides are going to discuss the 250 meter bridge in the corridor at the Indo Pakistan border.
India is building an elevated bridge over the tributary of the river Ravi. Pakistan, on the other hand, is building an embankment, causing fears of flooding in the villages on the Indian side of border.
At the discussion table are also the logistics of conducting the religious tour. Both the neighbors are expected to discuss the number of pilgrims to be allowed per day, how many hours they can stay and whether the corridor should be opened throughout year or not.
Media reports quote Indian Home Ministry officials saying that the “biggest concern is security.” New Delhi fears that Pakistan is stoking the Sikh separatist movement by including some of the proclaimed separatist leaders in the committee tasked to prepare the Kartarpur corridor.
“Security is non-negotiable for us, we are putting in place very advanced high-tech security and surveillance system in the corridor,” Indian ministry officials told the media.
Panjab-based political analyst Ravinder Singh Robin says that “the bilateral meeting holds a lot of promise.”
“The talks give opportunities to both the nations to raise their doubts and concerns. India has genuine concerns about the Khalistan separatist movement finding a foothold in Panjab again if some of the proponents of the separatist movements are patronized by the Pakistani establishment,” Robin told Arab News.
“Pakistan also has its own fears that the elevated bridge at the border might come handy for India in launching aggression at the time of tensions. Both the countries need to sort out their concerns and political apprehensions,” adds Robin.