Kartarpur corridor: India hopes for 'meaningful' talks with Pakistan, may raise Khalistan propaganda

The Kartarpur Sahib gurudwara and work on the Kartarpur corridor are seen in this series of photos. (Source: Anas Mallick/WION) Photograph:( WION )

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Mar 13, 2019, 03.32 PM (IST) Siddhant Sibal

India and Pakistan will hold talks on Thursday to decide the modalities of the Kartarpur corridor. The corridor was agreed upon by both countries in November 2018. 

The talks will be held on March 14 on the Indian side of the Wagah-Attari border. 

The draft memorandum of the agreement, which New Delhi shared with Islamabad, and border infrastructure alignment are the two major items on the agenda for the talks. 

India says it is optimistic about having "meaningful and constructive" talks.

A government source told WION, "We approach these discussions with our objectives. Comments which came in the past from the other side speak for themselves, we hope tomorrow in the meeting we look forward to doing a constructive, meaningful and flexible approach from the other side which can help realise the objective of the Indian citizens to go to the gurudwara."

Asked about Pakistan's support for Khalistani propaganda which has reportedly been taking place around Sikh shrines in that country, he said, "We would certainly hope and would like to see that Pakistan doesn't work in a manner which is to the disappointment of the wishes and desire of the pilgrims and to indulge in any other propaganda and activities in terms of supporting successionist tendencies."

He added that India would bring up the matter during that talks which will begin at 10.30 am on Thursday.

Last year, on a number of occasions, Pakistan had reportedly allowed the dissemination of Khalistani propaganda. New Delhi had taken up the matter strongly with Islamabad.

There has also been concern regarding security, especially in the wake of the Pulwama attack. New Delhi has said that the "security architecture" around the corridor will be "foolproof, safe and intrusion-free".

India also dismissed the Pakistani Foreign Office's claim that visas were not given to the Pakistani media to cover the talks, saying it is a "technical and professional meeting and not an event". 

The Indian delegation will include officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). The delegation will be led by SCL Das, MHA Joint Secretary (Internal Security) and Deepak Mittal, MEA Joint Secretary (Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran).

India last week approved the building of a passenger terminal building (PTB) at a cost of Rs 190 crore which will be constructed by September 2019, ahead of the 550 birth anniversary of Guru Nanak in November. 

The PTB will have 54 immigration counters to facilitate the passage of an expected 5,000 pilgrims a day. (The complex will also house a 300-foot-high Indian flag.) In phase two of the project, a 5-bed hospital and accommodation for 300 pilgrims will be set up.

New Delhi has already clarified that talking on Kartarpur does not mean the resumption of bilateral dialogue. "It is not a resumption of bilateral dialogue... it's related to emotions and sentiments of Indian citizens of Sikh faith and our decision to meet reflects our strong commitment to the operationalisation of Kartarpur Sahib corridor," MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said on March 9.