India and Pakistan on Tuesday held a meeting of technical experts on the Kartarpur corridor during which its alignment, coordinates, and other engineering aspects of the proposed crossing points were discussed, sources said. An Indian delegation will visit Pakistan to take the discussions further at a meeting on April 2 on the Pakistani side of the Attari border.
The meeting comes days after the two countries held talks to finalise the modalities for the corridor linking Gurudwara Darbar Sahib in the Pakistani town of Kartarpur with the Gurdaspur district in Punjab.
The technical meeting at the level of experts, including engineers and surveyors, was held at “proposed zero points” in the follow up to the decision reached on the March 14 meeting, the sources said.
India had been seeking this meeting for a long time and had even suggested holding it on February 15. Pakistan, however, linked it to the meeting on the draft agreement. The experts did a site survey and discussed the alignment of the corridor, the coordinates, and the engineering aspects of the proposed crossing points, the sources said.
Zero point is the point at which the Indian side of the corridor and the Pakistani side of the corridor will be meeting. India had shared the coordinates with Pakistan earlier this year but the Pakistani side gave alternate coordinates.
Meanwhile, a Pakistan Foreign Office statement on the meeting said that both sides jointly surveyed the coordinates of the proposed zero points and discussed the technical details, including finished road level and high flood level etc. “The two sides agreed on some technical aspects and expressed the hope of finalising the other modalities at the earliest,” it said.
The Pakistan Foreign Office also said the meeting was held in a “positive and constructive” environment. A joint statement issued after the meeting on March 14 at the Indian side of the Attari-Wagah border had said both sides held detailed and constructive discussions on various aspects and provisions of the project and agreed to work towards expeditiously operationalising the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor (KSC).
The meeting had come amid heightened tensions between the two neighbours following India’s air strike on a terrorist training camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammed and Pakistan’s subsequent retaliation.
India has asked Pakistan to allow pilgrims to travel on foot if they wish. It also urged that another 10,000 pilgrims be allowed access on festivals like Baisakhi and Gurupurab.
Last November, India and Pakistan agreed to set up the border crossing linking Gurudwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, the final resting place of Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak Dev, to Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Gurdaspur district.
Kartarpur Sahib is located in Pakistan’s Narowal district across the river Ravi, about four km from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine. Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had on November 26 last year laid the foundation stone of the Kartarpur corridor in Gurdaspur district.
Two days later, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation stone of the corridor in Narowal, 125 km from Lahore.