The Indian government believes Pakistan has shifted the goalposts for the Kartarpur corridor project, including caps on the number of pilgrims using it every day and the introduction of a paid permit system, people familiar with developments said on Saturday.
Officials from the two countries held their first meeting to discuss modalities and a draft agreement on the corridor at Attari on March 14. Several differences – including on the number of pilgrims permitted daily, the number of days the corridor would be operational and a permit system for pilgrims – emerged during these talks.
New Delhi is also concerned about plans by Sikh groups from the US, Canada and Australia to hold events in Pakistan to publicise “Referendum 2020” – a non-binding vote on a separate nation of Khalistan – and has taken up this issue with Islamabad, the people cited above said.
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s initial announcement on the Kartarpur corridor, which will connect Dera Baba Nanak in India with Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan, gave impression of a generous and open-ended offer, but Islamabad’s focus during the discussions this week was narrow and with a limited focus, the people said.
India was disappointed the proposed caps on the number of pilgrims and the introduction of the permit and fee systems, they added.
However, India is committed to operationalising the project in time for the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikhism, in November.
Referring to Referendum 2020, the people said a small group of overseas Sikhs from the US, Australia and Canada was engaging in an activity that is tantamount to interference in India’s internal affairs. This group doesn’t represent the views of Sikh community at large and this issue has been raised with Pakistan and the other countries, they added.
Mar 16, 2019 16:13 IST