ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Tuesday asked India to send its team for talks on the Kartarpur Corridor on July 14 to discuss the draft agreement.

The foreign ministry said: “Pakistan, today (July 2), conveyed to India that the second meeting to discuss the draft agreement for finalising the modalities of Kartarpur Corridor and related technical issues will be held on July 14, 2019 at Wagah. The Indian side has been requested to convey the composition of its delegation.”

Pakistan, the foreign ministry statement said: “Remains committed to expedited progress on the matter to ensure that the Corridor is operationalised in time for the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Baba Guru Nanak in November 2019.”

Over the weekend, India proposed to hold talks with Pakistani officials on Kartarpur Corridor between July 11 and 14 on the Pakistani side of Wagah Border to take the project further, with the aim of completing it by November ahead of the birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak. According to the plan proposed by India, both sides will discuss a draft agreement pertaining to issues related to the project’s infrastructure and alignment and the facilitating the movement of Sikh yatrees (pilgrims).

This year, experts from the two countries had jointly surveyed the coordinates of Kartarpur Corridor Zero Point and discussed the technical details, including Finished Road Level, High Flood level and others.  The two sides agreed on some technical aspects and expressed hope to finalise the other modalities at the earliest. 

Foreign ministry says Indian side has been urged to convey composition of its delegation

Tensions between Pakistan and India have been high since the killing of a Kashmiri freedom fighter, Burhan Wani, in July 2016. An attack on Indian forces in September 2016 - that killed 19 soldiers in Uri area of held Kashmir - further heightened the tensions. India also claimed it had carried a “surgical strike” to avenge the Uri attack. Pakistan rejected the Indian assertion.

Pakistan and India are expected to set up facilitation centres and check posts on their own sides. Officials said the permit issued by Pakistan will be only for the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib and if the Sikh pilgrims wished to travel elsewhere, they would need a visa. Pakistan and India will also discuss the duration of Sikh pilgrims stay on the Pakistani side.

The corridor will give Indian pilgrims easy access to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur on the banks of the Ravi river in Pakistan, where Guru Nanak Dev spent 18 years.

It was former Indian cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu, who made the first announcement that Pakistan was willing to open the Kartarpur corridor.  He was passed on this information by army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa during the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Imran Khan in August 2018.

Thousands of Sikhs visit the shrine in Pakistan every year. Darbar Sahib Kartarpur is located in the Narowal district. It is built on the historic site where Guru Nanak settled and assembled a Sikh community after his missionary travels. The present Gurdwara is built on the site where Guru Nanak died on September 22, 1539.

The Gurdwara is also notable for its location near the border between Pakistan and India. The shrine is visible from the Indian side of the border as Pakistani authorities generally trim the tall elephant grass that would otherwise obstruct the view. Indian Sikhs gather in large numbers to perform darshan, or sacred viewing of the site, from the Indian side of the border.

Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammed Faisal said Islamabad was continuing its spirit of constructive engagement. He said Pakistan also expected positivity from India so that the corridor became reality for 550th celebrations of Baba Guru Nanak.