'80pc and beyond agreed upon,' says FO spokesperson following Kartarpur Corridor talks with India

By Shakeel Ahmed

Following the second round of talks between India and Pakistan regarding the Kartarpur Corridor on Sunday, Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal said over 80 per cent has been agreed upon between the two sides.

The second round of talks were held today at Wagah, media reported.

While speaking to media following the talks, Director General South Asia Dr Faisal said: “In my opinion, around […] 80 per cent and beyond has been agreed upon.”

The FO spokesperson said that he could not share details until a final agreement was reached.

Dr Faisal added that another round of talks would be held to address the approximately 20 per cent unresolved factors. However, he did not provide any details of the meeting.

India ‘urges Pakistan to build bridge’

Following the talks, India’s Ministry of External Affairs said that the Indian side has asked Pakistan to permit 5,000 pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib using the corridor daily and that an additional 10,000 pilgrims be allowed to visit on special occasions, media reported.

Additionally, they requested that Persons of Indian Origin with OCI [Overseas Citizenship of India] cards be permitted to use the Kartarpur Corridor facility.

The ministry also shared details of a bridge that they were building and “urged” Pakistan to build a bridge on their side.

View image on Twitter

“Pending construction of [a] bridge over old Ravi creek by Pakistan on their territory, India offered to make interim arrangements for making corridor operational in November 2019, given [the] historic importance of 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji.”

Second round of talks

Earlier, in a post shared on Twitter, Director General South Asia and Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal confirmed that the talks had begun.

India had earlier pulled out of the second bilateral meeting scheduled for April 2 after the two sides had met at Attari on March 14.

Dr Faisal led the Pakistani side while an eight-member Indian delegation was led by S.L. Das.

While speaking to media today, Dr Faisal said that under the directives of Prime Minister Imran Khan, Pakistan is “fully committed to materialising” the Kartarpur Corridor into a reality for the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak in November this year.

The FO spokesperson said that 70 per cent of the gurdwara complex, terminal building and road had been completed.

Dr Faisal said that he hoped talks between the two sides today would be productive.

Kartarpur Corridor

The corridor, a peace initiative of the Pakistani government, is being constructed to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. The corridor will provide Indian Sikhs visa-free access to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur in Pakistan.

To work out modalities for the opening of Kartarpur opening, a Pakistani delegation visited Attari where a meeting was held with Indian officials on March 14. While the next round of talks was scheduled for April 2 at Wagah, India pulled out of it over reservations that pro-Khalistan activists such as Gopal Chawla and Bisan Singh had been included in Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee — a body that works for facilitating Sikh pilgrims.

The Indian Ministry for External Affairs on that occasion had stated: “The next meeting on the modalities can be scheduled at an appropriate time after receiving Pakistan’s response.” Pakistan’s FO had then regretted the Indian decision to cancel the meeting.