India, Pakistan to hold technical meet on Kartarpur on April 16

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NEW DELHI: Pakistan on Monday said that it will hold a technical meeting with India on April 16 to discuss the modalities for the corridor linking Gurudwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur to Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district in Punjab.


"Continuing with Pakistan's spirit of constructive engagement, we have agreed to the Indian proposal for a technical meeting on 16 April," Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal tweeted.

"We expect positivity from India so that the corridor becomes reality for 550th celebrations," he added.

On March 14, India and Pakistan held a meeting between officials of India and Pakistan to finalise the modalities for setting up of a corridor linking the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in the Pakistani town of Kartarpur with Gurdaspur district in Punjab. The discussion was held at the Indian side of the Attari-Wagah border.

It was the first meeting between officials of India and Pakistan to discuss the Kartarpur corridor issue, amid heightened tensions between the two nations over the Pulwama terror attack, followed by India's pre-emptive air strike on Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) camps in Balakot and Pakistan's subsequent retaliation.

As per the report, during the meeting, New Delhi had raised the issue of hassle-free access to the Indian pilgrims besides asking Islamabad to insulate Sikh pilgrims visiting the shrine in Pakistan from pro-Khalistan propaganda.

Later, the Pakistani Cabinet constituted a 10-member Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC) to facilitate Sikh pilgrims after the opening of the Kartarpur corridor.

India voiced concerns over the presence of several Khalistani separatists in the committee on the Kartarpur corridor.

Last November, both India and Pakistan agreed to set up the Kartarpur corridor to link the historic Gurdwara Darbar Sahib-the final resting place of Sikh faith's founder Guru Nanak Dev-to Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur.

Kartarpur Sahib is located in Pakistan's Narowal district across the river Ravi, about four kilometres from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine.

The corridor will facilitate visa-free travel of Indian Sikh pilgrims to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur.

Pakistan has committed to open the corridor in November this year on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.

On November 26, last year, India's Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had laid the foundation stone of the Kartarpur corridor in Gurdaspur district.

Two days later, Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation stone of the corridor in Narowal, 125 km from Lahore.

Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after the February 14 Pulwama terror attack. Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was caused by a suicide bomber.

On February 14, an explosives-laden truck rammed into a CRPF convoy in Pulwama outside Srinagar, killing more than 40 soldiers in one of the biggest terror attacks in recent years.

The convoy comprised 78 buses in which around 2500 personnel were travelling from Jammu to Srinagar.

On February 26, the Indian Air Force carried out a counter-terror operation and attacked terror camps in Balakot area in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

The air strikes come 12 days after the dreaded terror outfit-Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) carried out a debilitating attack on the CRPF convoy in Pulwama.

In response, On February 27, Pakistani F-16 jets violated the Line of Control and the aerial fight ensued.

Subsequently, Indian fighter jet shot down Pakistan’s F-16 fighter jet, which landed in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 and captured an Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman. However, he was released on March 1st after spending nearly 60 hours in Pakistani custody.

 

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