“80 percent consensus” reached on Kartarpur Corridor: Foreign Office

“80 percent consensus” reached on Kartarpur Corridor: Foreign Office
The second round of talks between Pakistan and India on Kartarpur Corridor was held at Wagah Border on Sunday. This picture, taken on July 14, 2019, shows the heads of the two delegations shaking hands with each other. (Courtesy Dr. Faisal's Twitter Account)
Updated 14 July 2019

“80 percent consensus” reached on Kartarpur Corridor: Foreign Office

“80 percent consensus” reached on Kartarpur Corridor: Foreign Office
  • The 550th anniversary of the birth of Guru Nanak will be celebrated in November this year
  • India has asked for the construction of a bridge over Ravi creek

LAHORE: After the second round of India-Pakistan talks regarding the Kartarpur Corridor, Pakistan’s Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr. Faisal said that in his opinion, the two countries had developed a consensus on “80 percent and more” at the meeting held at Wagah Border on Sunday.
The Sikh minority community in India’s northern state of Punjab and elsewhere has for years sought easier access to the temple in Kartarpur, a village just over the border in Muslim-majority Pakistan. Many Sikhs see Pakistan as the birthplace of their religion: its founder, Guru Nanak, was born in a small village near the eastern city of Lahore.
To get there however, Sikh travelers must secure hard-to-get visas, travel to Lahore or a different Pakistani city and then drive to the village, which is just 4 km away from the Indian border.
In 2017, the nuclear-armed neighbors struck an agreement to open a new route, the Kartarpur Corridor, which would give pilgrims direct and visa-free access to their holy site and would be fenced off.
This year, the urgency to reach consensus and complete the project has significantly increased, with the 550th anniversary of Guru Nanak’s birth approaching in November.
“We have agreed upon 80 percent of the matters related to opening of Kartarpur Corridor and another meeting is required to reach consensus on the remaining 20 percent,” Dr. Faisal said, while speaking to media after Sunday’s high-level meeting, where the eight member Indian delegation was led by S.L Das from Delhi’s Ministry of Home Affairs.
Before the talks began on Sunday, Dr. Faisal said that under the directives of Prime Minister Imran Khan, Pakistan was “fully committed to materialising” the corridor for the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak and that it had completed 70 percent of the work on the Gurdwara complex, terminal building and roads. After the talks, the FO spokesperson refused to share any details of the meeting.
A press release issued by the Indian government said that pending the construction of a bridge over the old Ravi creek by Pakistan on their territory, “India offered to make interim arrangements for making the corridor operational in November 2019, given the historic importance of the 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji.”
The press release further said that the delegation “urged Pakistan to take into consideration the sentiments of the pilgrims to have smooth, easy, unrestricted access throughout the year to be able to visit the Holy Gurudwara.”
In a series of points, the press release laid out India’s main demands which included that 5,000 pilgrims be allowed to visit the gurdwara at Kartarpur using the corridor every day with 10,000 additional pilgrims on special occasions.
It further said the Indian delegation had asked that there be no restrictions on the pilgrims in terms of their faith, that not only Indian nationals, but also persons of Indian origin be allowed to use the corridor facility seven days a week, as part of a group or as individuals, and that access should be visa free and without any permits or fees.
The Wagah meeting had earlier been set for April 2nd, but India had pulled out over the inclusion of pro-Khalistan activists in the committee that facilitates Sikh pilgrims in Pakistan.
Prime Minister Imran Khan inaugurated construction work on the 4 km corridor last year.