Kartarpur corridor: India, Pakistan hold first meeting; release joint statement
Amid bitter relations between India and Pakistan, officials from both the countries met on the Indian side of Attari-Wagah border on Thursday to discuss modalities for setting up the Kartarpur corridor. After the meeting, India and Pakistan released a joint statement saying the talks were constructive. The next meeting is scheduled for April 2. Three months ago, the countries agreed to work on the project.
Kartarpur Gurudwara holds significance for Sikhs
The Gurudwara is located in Pakistan's Narowal district, about four kilometers away from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine. Once the corridor is built, Indian Sikhs can easily visit the shrine, where Guru Nanak Dev spent his last days. The construction is likely to be completed by November 2019, before his 550th birth anniversary. Notably, the Gurudwara is visible from the Indian side.
Both sides laid foundation stones in November
On November 26, 2018, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh laid the foundation for the corridor in Gurdaspur district. Two days later, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan repeated the same in Pakistan's Kartarpur.
Both countries had constructive discussions: Statement
The Indian delegation was led by SCL Das, the joint secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs. Mohammad Faisal of Pakistan's foreign ministry led their delegation. "Both sides held detailed and constructive discussions on various aspects and provisions of the proposed agreement and agreed to work towards expeditiously operationalizing the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor," the joint statement read.
Technical experts will meet on March 19
The statement revealed that before the April 2 meeting, technical experts will have discussions. The experts will meet at ground zero to finalize alignment on March 19. "Both sides also held expert-level discussions between the technical experts on the alignment and other details of the proposed corridor," read the statement. The meeting was held in a "cordial environment," the statement underlined.
After Pulwama attack, ties between India and Pakistan worsened
India and Pakistan witnessed the worst escalation in years after the February 14 Pulwama attack, which was executed by Jaish-e-Mohammed. Responding to the attack, IAF launched pre-emptive operation on JeM's camp in Balakot, Pakistan on February 26. A day later, 24 PAF jets attempted to enter Indian airspace but their attempt was thwarted by IAF. Pakistan lost one F-16 jet in the air combat.
Khan's "statesmanship" facade didn't impress India
After shooting the US-made jet, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman landed on the wrong side of LoC and stayed in Pakistan's captivity for almost three days. Khan announced his release in a bid to portray himself as a "statesman", but India remained unimpressed. In fact, EAM Sushma Swaraj said on Wednesday that if Khan is so generous he should hand over JeM founder Masood Azhar.