Even as Pakistan assured that the Kartarpur Corridor would be ready by November irrespective of tension between India and Pakistan, a visit by three Punjab ministers to the neighbouring country scheduled for Thursday was put off as clearances are still pending.
According to a PTI report, Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said at a press conference in Islamabad on Thursday that their country was committed to operationalise the Kartarpur Corridor on time.
“Our effort and desire is that Kartarpur opens on time,” he said, adding that a meeting on Kartarpur will be held soon but so far not decision has been taken about it.
Three ministers including Medical Education Minister O P Soni, Jails Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and Tourism Minister Charanjit Singh Channi were to visit Pakistan on Thursday. The file sent by Punjab’s tourism department on August 16 to the Union Ministry of External Affairs is stuck as of now.
A source in the government said, “We had sent the file soon after Independence Day. But we have not received clearance. The government has to take a decision on whether it wants to send its ministers to Pakistan or not amid tension between the two countries Kashmir.”
The ministers had taken permission from the Centre a month before Article 370 of the Constitution, which granted special status to Jammu & Kashmir, was scrapped. They were granted permission but after scrapping of Article 370 and the resultant changed circumstances, permission needed to be sought again.
Sources said the visit is now unlikely to take place before September 7, and even if political clearance is granted eventually, they will have to seek permission from the Ministry of Home Affairs again.
Explaining the process, a source said that after getting clearances, they will apply for visas.
“Since the visit is on the issue of Kartarpur Sahib, Pakistan may give the visa. But it is too early to say anything,” the source added.
Asked about the matter, Randhawa said they had sent their passports but had not heard anything from the government. “I do not know what is happening, but Pakistan today made it clear that the relations would not affect the Kartarpur corridor. We are also going for the same issue. There should not be any problem,” he added.
A government source said that the Union minister of external affairs was abroad, and this could be one of the reasons that permission was delayed.
The delegation of ministers were scheduled to meet Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan besides visiting the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara.