'Pak, India agree on 80% and beyond on Kartarpur draft agreement'

Pakistan and India agreed “80 per cent and beyond” on the draft agreement and operationalisation of the landmark Kartarpur corridor, a senior Pakistani official said Sunday after a marathon meeting between the officials of the two countries in Wagah.

The corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, which was established in 1522 by Sikh faith founder Guru Nanak Dev.

Briefing the media at Wagah after about four hours long second round of talks Sunday, Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal, who was leading the 13-member Pakistani delegation, said there has been positive progress in the corridor talks.

“There are positive developments… Both countries have agreed 80 per cent and beyond regarding the Kartarpur corridor agreement,” he said, adding that the two sides would resolve the remaining 20 per cent issues in the next meeting.

When asked about the joint statement, Faisal said: “Until we agree on the final draft, we cannot share. On unresolved issues, we think we will have to have another sitting.”

Replying to a question about how many Indian Sikhs will be issued permit at the opening of the corridor in November, he said: “It may be 5,000 or 8,000…I cannot give the exact number. This has to be decided yet.”

Faisal, who is also the Director General of South Asia and SAARC, further said that Pakistan has planted a sapling of peace.

“This is a corridor of peace and we have planted a sapling of peace,” he said.

Before the start of the meeting, Faisal said Pakistan is committed to opening the corridor for Indian Sikh pilgrims on the 550 birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.

“Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan wants peace in the region. He is committed to open the corridor in time for the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak in November 2019,” he said. The Indian delegation arrived at the Wagah border after 9 a.M. (local time) and the meeting between the two sides began soon after. The eight-member Indian delegation was headed by S C L Das, Joint Secretary (IS-I), MHA. PTI