MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar briefed the country on Thursday on various issues pertaining to international affairs of immediate concern. One of these was on the hindrances that Pakistan continued to create towards the smooth opening of the Kartarpur corridor.
Raveesh Kumar said, "On the Kartarpur project, the third joint secretary level meeting that took place on September 4 in Attari in Punjab, and this was to basically discuss the modalities and finalise the modalities for the facilitation of pilgrims to visit the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur. We had hoped that all pending issues will be resolved. However, we realize that Pakistan was quite inflexible during the talks and there are 3 instances where we approached them to show some flexibility."
The first issue was on Pakistan's insistence to charge each pilgrim 20 USD to visit Kartarpur Sahib. Kumar has said that India strongly opposed this fee. The second issue was that Pakistan didn't agree to the initial number of 10,000 pilgrims that India proposed who would be allowed to visit Kartarpur Sahib on special occasions. Kumar said, "That was not agreed to by them, they cited some constrains on the infrastructure side but we did request them to show some flexibility on this."
The third and final issue Pakistan created was the objection to the presence of our consular officer, the presence of our protocol officer who should accompany the delegation of pilgrims who visit the Kartarpur Sahib every day.
"So on all these three accounts, we did not get a favourable response. We remained committed to the project, as I have indicated in the past." Kumar said. He went on to add, "As far as infrastructure project goes, we are on schedule. We are confident that all our projects will be completed before the scheduled time. We have urged Pakistan to show some flexibility. It is involving the sensitivity of the people. It is a long-pending demand and we have urged them that Pakistan has to show a little bit of flexibility on this matter so that we can proceed without any hindrance in the run-up to the celebrations involved in 550th anniversary of Guru Nanak Devji."
The Kartarpur corridor is a proposed route linking Darbara Sahib Gurudwara in Pakistan’s Kartarpur to Dera Babar Nanak Shrine in Gurdaspur, India. The former is the resting place of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikh religion.
While the foundation stone for the corridor was laid on both sides of the border in late 2018 keeping in mind the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev in November 2020, the talks between the two countries have been stuck on multiple issues. The latest roadblock has been Pakistan’s insistence on charging a fee of $20 per every pilgrim.