Saturday, May 25, 2019 | Last Update : 01:03 AM IST

India, Pakistan hold ‘cordial’ talks on Kartarpur

AGE CORRESPONDENT WITH AGENCY INPUTS
Published : Mar 15, 2019, 1:13 am IST
Updated : Mar 15, 2019, 2:19 am IST

New Delhi also asked Islamabad to allow another 10,000 pilgrims to visit the holy shrine on festivals like Baisakhi and Gurupurab.

The India and Pakistan officials held the first meeting on Thursday to discuss the modalities and the draft agreement for facilitation of pilgrims to visit Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib using the Kartarpur Corridor at Attari, India in a cordial environment. (Photo: Twitter/ANI)
 The India and Pakistan officials held the first meeting on Thursday to discuss the modalities and the draft agreement for facilitation of pilgrims to visit Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib using the Kartarpur Corridor at Attari, India in a cordial environment. (Photo: Twitter/ANI)

New Delhi/Attari (Punjab): India sought visa-free access from Pakistan for 5,000 pilgrims per day to visit the historic Kartarpur Gurdwara across the border as the two neighbours held a “cordial” meeting in Punjab’s Attari on Thursday to work out modalities for the Sikh pilgrimage, just weeks after soaring tensions brought the two to the brink of war following the IAF airstrike on JeM training camp in Balakot.

An Indian official categorically told reporters in Attari that the meeting did not mark the resumption of the bilateral dialogue with Pakistan that has been suspended by New Delhi in the wake of Islamabad’s failure to check terror emerging from its soil.

At the meeting between the two sides in Attari, Indian officials conveyed to the Pakistani delegation that access to the Sikh shrine should be given to not just Indian nationals but people of Indian origin as well.

New Delhi also asked Islamabad to allow another 10,000 pilgrims to visit the holy shrine on festivals like Baisakhi and Gurupurab.

“From our side, we have pressed for at least 5,000 pilgrims per day to be allowed to visit the holy Sikh shrine in the initial phase,” Union home ministry’s joint secretary S.C.L. Das told reporters.

Mr Das said, “We have also strongly urged them to allow the visit of pilgrims on all seven days.”

The Kartarpur corridor involves a road link for Sikh pilgrims to visit the famous Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan, which is around three-four km from the International Border. The 16th century Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur in Pakistan’s Narowal district important for Sikhs as Guru Nanak Dev spent 18 years here. The gurdwara was established by the first Sikh guru in 1522.

For visa-free travel of pilgrims, India insisted that there should not be any additional encumbrances in the form of any documentation or procedure, Mr Das said, adding that New Delhi also wants Pakistan to allow devotees who want to travel on foot to the shrine across the border.

The two neighbours also “agreed to hold the next meeting at Wagah (in Pakistani Punjab) on April 2, adding that this would “be preceded by a meeting of the technical experts on March 19 at the proposed zero points to finalise the alignment” of the corridor.

The 20-member Pakistani team was headed by Mohammad Faisal, director general (South Asia and Saarc) of Pakistan’s ministry of foreign affairs. On his return, Mr Faisal tweeted, “Pakistan Kartarpur delegation returns after constructive discussion in a cordial environment.”

Tags: kartarpur corridor, sikh pilgrimage
Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi