Officials from India and Pakistan on Friday discussed the technical modalities of the Kartarpur corridor for the Sikh pilgrims, the first meeting after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status leading to fresh tensions between the two countries. The meeting at the Zero point, where the Indian and Pakistani side of the proposed corridor converge, was attended by 15 officials from each side, officials said.
The meeting lasted for close to two hours during which various technical aspects pertaining to the corridor were discussed, an official of the National Highways Authority of India, who attended the meeting, said. The area where the meeting took place was heavily guarded and no media personnel was allowed to go near the venue.
Officials of the Land Port Authority of India, which is constructing a state-of-the-art passenger terminal building, also attended the meeting. So far, there is no official word from the Pakistani side.
The corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan's Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, which was established in 1522 by Sikh faith founder Guru Nanak Dev.
This was the first meeting after India on August 5 revoked Article 370 of the Constitution, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories. Foreign Office Spokesperson Mohammad Faisal, addressing media on Thursday, said Pakistan is committed to completing and inaugurating the Kartarpur Sahib corridor as announced by Prime Minister Imran Khan in November.
Pakistan and India are discussing the modalities regarding the opening of the corridor at Narowal, some 125-km from Lahore, on the occasion of 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak in November.
Over the past few months, many rounds of meetings have been held on the corridor during which the experts from the two sides have discussed its alignment, coordinates and other engineering aspects of the proposed crossing points. In July, delegations of the two countries held a meeting on the Pakistani side of the Attari-Wagah border to discuss the modalities of the Kartarpur corridor.
The corridor will also be the first visa-free corridor between the two neighbours since their independence in 1947. Pakistan is building the corridor from the Indian border to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, while the other part from Dera Baba Nanak up to the border will be constructed by India.
India is constructing a bridge at the zero point and has urged Pakistan to build a similar bridge on its side that will provide safe and secure movement of pilgrims and address concerns regarding flooding. The bridge is over a creek of which the majority part falls in Pakistan.
The tension between India and Pakistan has escalated after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status. Reacting to India's move on Kashmir, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelled the Indian High Commissioner.