ISLAMABAD - Kartarpur corridor between Pakistan and India is fast becoming a reality as the two sides prepare to hold formal talks next month.

Pakistan had proposed that it could send a delegation to India on March 13 to finalise the draft agreement for the Kartarpur corridor followed by a return visit by an Indian team on March 28. The nuclear armed neighbours have accepted the dates for the meetings.

Senior officials at the foreign ministry told The Nation that despite political tensions, the two sides were upbeat about the project which could play a role for peace between the neighbours.

“Pakistan’s vision is peace. Our political and military leadership is ready to take all steps to promote peace. Kartarpur corridor is one such decision. The project is fast becoming a reality and we want to complete it in time (by November this year),” said one official.

Another official said that Pakistan had ignored India’s ‘traditional reluctance’ on even such a positive project. “They tried to delay it but we accepted their proposal to avoid any postponement,” he added.

Last week, Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammed Faisal had tweeted that “in a spirit of constructive engagement Pakistan has proposed to India that the Pakistan delegation may visit India on 13 March followed by the return visit of the Indian delegation to Pakistan on 28 March to finalise the draft agreement for the Kartarpur corridor. We look forward to positive reciprocity from India.”

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that a committee headed by Punjab Governor Chaudhary Mohammed Sarwar had been constituted to oversee the development of infrastructure related to Kartarpur corridor.

He said that the Sikh community across the world was expressing great interest to make investments in Kartarpur corridor related projects such as construction of hotels and other facilities. “We want to streamline the whole process and the Governor Punjab will look into it,” he added.

Earlier, Pakistan had shared the draft Agreement between Pakistan and the India to facilitate Indian Sikh Yatrees (pilgrims) to visit the Gurudwara, Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, Narowal, Pakistan.

This was in line with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s commitment to open Kartarpur Corridor on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak in November this year.

Pakistan has appointed Director General South Asia Dr Mohammed Faisal as the focal person and requested India to designate a focal person at its end. Pakistan has also invited India to urgently send a delegation to Islamabad to negotiate and finalize the agreement.

Prime Minister Khan had inaugurated the ground breaking ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor on November 28 last year. Pakistan took this step to accommodate the longstanding request of the Sikh community, especially from India particularly in view of 550th Birth Anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak.

The Pakistan-India ties nose-dived in recent years with no bilateral talks taking place. The nuclear armed neighbours, having fought three wars since gaining independence from the British in 1947, regularly trade allegations of harassment and espionage against diplomats.

Tension between Pakistan and India has 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 claim.

India has also proposed that even as the modalities of the draft agreement were being worked out, technical discussions should commence.

“For expeditious realisation of Kartarpur corridor, India has also proposed technical-level discussions between engineers on both sides without waiting for discussion on the modalities,” Indian external affairs spokesperson added Raveesh Kumar said.