“Wants passport and visa free khule darshan for pilgrims”, said Amarinder Singh, Punjab Chief Minister. Discussion begins between India and Pakistan for the first time at Attari border near Amritsar to wrap up the modalities for the Kartarpur Corridor, that will facilitate Indian pilgrims to look in on the holy shrine of Gurudwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur exactly a month after the Pulwama terror attack on Thursday. The Indian delegation was led by SCL Das, Joint secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs. The Pakistan delegation was led by Dr. Faisal, DG of Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Home Ministry said that the government had placed three requests before the Pakistani commission. Allowance of at least 5000 pilgrims to visit Gurudwara, visa free access and allowance of Indian pilgrims including non-resident ones to Gurudwara.
“There will be no closed days for visiting the shrine and will be kept open for the week”, said Das.
New Delhi raised the issue of hassle-free access to Indian pilgrims besides asking Islamabad to enclose Sikh pilgrims visiting the shrine in Pakistan. India is careful of the Pakistan establishment’s support to pro-Khalista elements who would like to take advantage by reaching out pilgrims from India. At the same time, Mittal clarified that the talks did not mean that a bilateral dialogue had begun between the two countries.
The meeting took place between the two neighbors following India’s air strike on a terrorist training camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammed and Pakistan’s retaliation. Last November, both countries agreed to set up the cross linking Gurudwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur to Dera Baba Nanak shrine. Both the sides had detailed discussions on various aspects of the agreement to work towards running the Kartarpur Sahib corridor. The union government has declared the construction of complex at Dera Baba Nanak, with its design motivated by the symbol “khand”, meaning oneness and humanity values.
The next meeting on Kartarpur corridor is scheduled on 2nd April. Before this, experts from both countries will hold meeting on 19th March to finalize the technical experts. “Commitment to fulfill a dream”, Raveesh Kumar, the Ministry of External Affairs commented. It will be a treat to watch how the talks between both countries will go amidst India’s Lok Sabha elections are declared and how well does it help the present government to score its advantage!