Guru Nanak had spent the last years of his life at the Gurudwara in the first half of the 16th century AD.
New Delhi: Pakistan has proposed different border-crossing coordinates from the one that India has proposed for Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit the historic Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara in Pakistani Punjab through special corridors being constructed on both the India and Pakistani sides, the ministry of external affairs (MEA) said on Wednesday, adding that both sides would hold talks on March 14. The two sides will start discussions on the Kartarpur draft agreement and also on what the final border-crossing coordinates will be. The Pakistani team may land in India a day earlier on March 13.
Pakistan had in January announced that it had shared the draft agreement with India to facilitate the visit of the Sikh pilgrims, to which India had said it had shared the proposed coordinates of the crossing point of the corridor along the border with Pakistan. “We have received a response from Pakistan. They have suggested an alternate crossing point,” MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, at his weekly briefing on Thursday.
Pakistan had recently proposed that its team of officials would visit India on March 13 and had also proposed that an Indian team visit Pakistan on March 28 to finalise the draft agreement, to which New Delhi welcomed the move and said that the “follow-up meeting” could be held in Pakistan “as required”.
India, had in turn, proposed “technical level discussions between engineers on both sides without waiting for discussion on the modalities”.
The two countries are expected to hammer out an agreement on the modalities that will enable Indian Sikh pilgrims to travel on the special “corridor” on both the Indian and Pakistani sides to attend the 550th birth anniversary celebrations in November this year of the founder of Sikhism and the first Guru of the Sikhs Guru Nanak at the historic Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara close to the Indo-Pak border in Pakistani Punjab. Guru Nanak had spent the last years of his life at the Gurudwara in the first half of the 16th century AD.
In a tweet last week, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal had said, “In a spirit of constructive engagement, Pakistan has proposed to India that the Pakistan delegation may visit India on 13 March followed by the return visit of the Indian delegation to Pakistan on 28 March to finalise the draft agreement for the Kartarpur corridor. We look forward to positive reciprocity from India.”
Welcoming the move swiftly last week, New Delhi had said, “We welcome the visit of the Pakistan team to discuss and finalise modalities for facilitating visit of pilgrims through Kartarpur Sahib Corridor on 13 March 2019 to India. The follow-up meeting can be held in Pakistan, as required. For expeditious realisation of Kartarpur Corridor, India has also proposed technical level discussions between engineers on both sides without waiting for discussion on the modalities. We hope Pakistan would positively respond and confirm coordinates of crossing point as well.”
It may be recalled that Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan had presided over the ground-breaking ceremony on November 28 last year for creation of the corridor from the border to the Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara in Pakistani Punjab that will enable “easy and smooth” travel to Kartarpur Sahib. India too will build the corridor on its side from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur to the International Border with all modern amenities.