Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal has said that despite prevailing tensions between the Pakistan & India over the situation in occupied Kashmir, the environment of the third round of talks on the Katarpur corridor held between the two countries held on Wednesday was positive.
“This was a Kartarpur-focussed meeting,” said Dr. Faisal in an interaction with media after completion of the discussion held in Attari, India.
The FO spokesperson said that Pakistan had completed 90 per cent of the work on the Kartarpur corridor, adding that he was confident that they were “inching closer” to the opening of the corridor by November, Radio Pakistan reported.
He said with the exception of two or three points, India and Pakistan had almost agreed on a draft agreement for the operationalisation of the corridor, according to the report.
In response to a question, Dr Faisal said that he hoped problems regarding the corridor could be resolved. “We have shown a lot of flexibility. We are hopeful that if a little flexibility comes from India, the work will get done,” he added.
He said India was responsible for doing its part of the work regarding the initiative, and that the work from Pakistan’s side was almost complete.
The FO spokesperson revealed that Pakistan was planning to arrange a media visit to the area this month so that they could see the roads, entry points and other progress that has been made.
Additionally, he said that Islamabad had invited the Indian side for a final meeting on the Pakistani side of the border to resolve the remaining sticking points. In a post shared on Twitter on Tuesday, the FO spokesperson had said that he had reached Lahore for the third round of talks that were to be held in Atari to “discuss and finalize the draft agreement of [the] opening of Kartarpur corridor”.
“Pakistan remains committed to [the] expedited opening of the corridor,” he had added.
Today’s meeting comes days after Pakistani and Indian delegations held a round of technical level talks on the corridor at the border, more commonly known as the ‘Zero Point’.
After the conclusion of the second round of talks in July, Pakistan had claimed that it had made headway on “80 per cent and beyond” issues regarding the opening of the corridor.The Kartarpur Corridor, a peace initiative of the Pakistani government, is being constructed to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. The corridor will provide Indian Sikhs visa-free access to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur in Pakistan.
To work out modalities for the opening of the corridor, a Pakistani delegation visited Attari where a meeting was held with Indian officials on March 14. While the next round of talks was scheduled for April 2 at Wagah, India pulled out of it over reservations that pro-Khalistan activists such as Gopal Chawla and Bisan Singh had been included in Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee — a body that works for facilitating Sikh pilgrims. The Indian Ministry for External Affairs on that occasion had stated: “The next meeting on the modalities can be scheduled at an appropriate time after receiving Pakistan’s response.” Pakistan’s FO had then regretted the Indian decision to cancel the meeting. The much-delayed second round of talks was subsequently held on July 14.