Pak doublespeak on Kartarpur exposed, wants 2-yr pact: MHA - Mandi Gobindgarh News

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Saturday, March 16, 2019

Pak doublespeak on Kartarpur exposed, wants 2-yr pact: MHA

Pak doublespeak on Kartarpur exposed, wants 2-yr pact: MHA

Tribune News Service
New Delhi, March 15

Noting that Pakistan’s “doublespeak” has once again been exposed at the very first meeting on the Kartarpur corridor, India today rued the fact that the neighbouring country wanted to restrict the “duration of agreement to only two years” for allowing pilgrims to visit the gurdwara on the other side of the border.

Edit: Corridor headway

Sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), who were part of the negotiations with Pakistan authorities yesterday on the Indian side of the Attari-Wagah border, also accused Pakistan of “surreptitiously usurping” land belonging to Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in the name of developing the corridor for the convenience of pilgrims.

An official said the Pakistan team “showed reluctance in accepting most demands made by the Indian side”.

Pakistan wanted to restrict the duration of Kartarpur agreement to just two years, despite India making it clear that it is executing long-lasting and comprehensive facilities at the border by spending Rs 190 crore for the first phase, the official said.

While India is executing a state-of-the-art passenger terminal building to process 5,000 pilgrims daily and over 15,000 pilgrims on special occasions like Baisakhi, Pakistan has limited it to mere 700 pilgrims per day. Pakistan also did not agree to India’s demand for daily visits.

On the issue of visa-free passage to Kartarpur Sahib, Pakistan has changed its position, insisting on special permits to pilgrims and that too on payment of fee, the official said, adding that the proposition was “outrageous to us” and “defeats the very purpose of the corridor”.

Interestingly, when India and Pakistan had signed a pact in 1974 to facilitate the visit of their pilgrims to the shrines located in each other’s territories, Kartarpur Sahib was not included despite repeated Indian requests.

Pakistan has so far resisted all attempts to include Kartarpur in the 1974 MoU, the official said, adding that according to the pact, there are 15 shrines in Pakistan and seven in India, where each other’s pilgrims can visit.

“Against the hype created by  Pakistan government and media, its actual offer turned out to be farcical. Clearly, Pakistan is not interested in providing Indian pilgrims easy access to Kartarpur Sahib,” the MHA official said.

Objections to plan

  • Pakistan wants 700 pilgrims daily against India’s plan for 5,000 visitors
  • Says no to daily visits, wants only ‘visiting days’
  • On visa-free passage, Pakistan insists on special permits against fee, “defeating very purpose of corridor”

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