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March 15, 2019

Kartarpur Corridor: Pakistan, India score diplomatic success

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March 15, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Diplomatic success was pulled off on Thursday at Attari between Pakistan and India when both saw an ‘achievement’ in the form of a joint statement, issued after a gap of two years, in which both agreed to work towards ‘expeditiously operationalising’ the Kartarpur Corridor.’

The two delegations held their first meeting at Attari in a ‘cordial’ environment to discuss modalities and the draft agreement for facilitation of pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib using the Kartarpur Corridor.

Kartarpur Corridor is the only issue that India has agreed to discuss with Pakistan and there are no indications of any further exchanges on other issues at least until the Indian elections are over.

Pakistan says it agreed to an Indian proposal to meet on Thursday at Attari, as it is engaging with India in continuation of its spirit of constructive engagement and flexibility, and in line with its sincere efforts to de-escalate the situation for regional peace and stability.

The delegations will meet at Wagah in Pakistan on April 2, 2019, which will be preceded by a meeting of technical experts on March 19, 2019 at proposed zero points to finalise the alignment of the corridor, says the statement.

The state of bilateral relations which are at an abysmal low can be gauged by the fact that the last joint statement between the two countries was issued in 2015, when both agreed to a Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue and directed the foreign secretaries to work out modalities and schedule for talks.

While Pakistan says some differences remain and will be ironed out later, the joint statement noted, “It was agreed to hold the next meeting at Wagah on 2 April 2019. This will be preceded by a meeting of technical experts on 19 March 2019 at the proposed zero points to finalize the alignment”.

"Both sides held detailed and constructive discussions on various aspects and provisions of the proposed agreement and agreed to work towards expeditiously operationalising the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor,” said the head of Pakistan’s delegation Dr Mohammad Faisal while reading the statement. Both sides also held expert level discussions between the technical experts on alignment and other details of the proposed corridor.

The experts discussed issues relating to the corridor, its construction, road, and other technicalities. The Indian delegation was led by S.C.L. Das, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs. The Pakistan delegation was led by Dr. Mohammad Faisal, DG (SA & SAARC) of Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Included in the delegation was Foreign Office’s senior woman diplomat from Balochistan, who had a few weeks ago handed to India their captured pilot Abhinandan Varthaman.

Before crossing into India with his delegations, Dr Mohammad Faisal said that he was confident that dialogue on the corridor could be "a step forward in the right direction in the current vitiated situation from conflict to cooperation, animosity to peace and enmity to friendship."

Talking about the religious importance of the corridor, the spokesperson explained to the media that Gurdwara Darbar Sahib was built at a site on the Pakistan side and Gurdwara Dera Baba Nanak in India.

"Opening the corridor to allow Sikhs’ access to their most revered place of worship has been a longstanding request of the Sikhs. This is also reflective of the importance and primacy that Pakistan gives to all its minorities," he added.

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