ISLAMABAD – As Pakistani delegation held high-level talks with India to finalise the remaining modalities on the proposed Kartarpur Corridor for the visit of Sikh pilgrims to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, the Indian delegation placed more demands, which in consequence hurdled the finalisation of the project.
India has asked Pakistan to increase the number of visiting pilgrims to 10,000 per day into the country, exclusion of service fee for pilgrims and demanded that ‘protocol officials’ be also allowed come along with the visitors at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, the final resting place of Baba Guru Nanak.
These demands deferred the talks as Pakistan immediately refused to accept them.
Importantly, Pakistan has already accepted India’s demand of facilitating visa-free movement of 5,000 Sikh pilgrims per day, and now they will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur.
Furthermore, Pakistan has allowed pilgrims choice to visit the shrine individually or in form of groups.
India has also asked Pakistan to allow Sikh pilgrims prepare and distribute alms (langar or free meal) amongst visitors at the shrine’s almonries.
Earlier, both countries pledged to complete construction of the corridor by the end of October and the fourth round of talks on ‘recommendations of Pakistan’ will be held next week.
Yesterday’s meeting was scheduled to take place on the Indian side of the Wagah-Attari Border where the two countries were expected to finalise the draft agreement pertaining to opening of the corridor.
Before departing for the talks, Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal told the media that Pakistan has already completed 95 percent of the work on this side of the border – as the proposed corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district