A day after discussions took place between India and Pakistan over the Kartarpur Sikh Corridor, sources at the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Friday told The Indian Express that the actual offer made by Pakistan has turned out to be “farcical” and “mere tokenism”. “There is a sea of difference between what Pakistan, including Prime Minister Imran Khan, had announced and what they offered at Attari,” the sources added.
Listing the key differences that emerged during the meeting between the nations, sources told The Indian Express that despite having assured visa-free access to the corridor, Pakistan through back door introduced the need for issue of a special permit for the pilgrims at an “outrageous” fee, which defeats the purpose.
* While India sought for opening the corridor on all seven days for daily visits of pilgrims, Pakistan has restricted the visits to certain days.
* Pakistan did not agree on devotees’ travel as individuals on foot and insisted on their movement in a group of at least 15 on board a vehicle, sources at the MHA told The Indian Express.
* Despite India’s offer in executing long-lasting and comprehensive facilities at Indo-Pak border at the cost of Rs 190 crores, Pakistan restricted the duration of MoU on Kartarpur to two years, said MHA.
* Further, the MHA said that India has lodged a strong protest with their Pakistani counterparts for permitting “rampant” encroachment on the lands belonging to Kartarpur Sahib. “These lands were donated to the Gurdwara by Maharaja Ranjeet Singh & other eminent Sikh devotees,” MHA stated. Adding on the lands owned by the Gurudwara, the MHA said that the Pakistan government acquired the lands and a “strident demand” was made by India for their restoration to the Gurudwara on an urgent basis.
India and Pakistan last year agreed to open a special border crossing linking Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur – the final resting place of Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak Dev – to Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Gurdaspur district.
The meeting comes amid heightened tensions between India and Pakistan since the Pulwama terrorist attack by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed on February 14.