Pakistan rejects back channel contacts with India: Report
ISLAMABAD - Islamabad says there are “zero” contacts between Pakistan and India, despite the opening of a border crossing between the two nuclear-armed neighbors for Indian pilgrims to visit a Sikh temple, which was a landmark act of cooperation between the two rivals.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi described the gloomy picture of Islamabad-New Delhi relations during an interview with Reuters on Friday, the news organization reported on Saturday.
He added that the bilateral ties had not been as strained as they are now since the two sides fought on their border for months in the northern area of Kargil back in 1999.
“There is no back channel. We’ve had wars, things have been worse than this, but things are bad,” Qureshi said.
Under a border crossing pact signed by the two sides, Sikh pilgrims are allowed to have a visa-free access from India to the Pakistani town of Kartarpur, home to a temple marking the site where the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, died.
“The founder of Sikhism was born here. This is our real home,” said a 32-year-old pilgrim from New Delhi on his first visit to Pakistan , adding that Pakistani and Indian Sikhs, though wearing different lanyards, have mingled inside the temple complex.
In a statement, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan described the pact as a “testimony of our commitment towards peace of the region.”
Both Islamabad and New Delhi hope that when fully operational, around 5,000 pilgrims will be able to cross into Pakistan on a daily basis via the new checkpoint, a huge increase on current numbers.