‘Attempt to create mirage of goodwill’: India on Pak decision to reopen Kartarpur Corridor amid Coronavirus

India and Pakistan in October 2019 signed an agreement to operationalise the Kartarpur Corridor to allow Indian pilgrims a visa-free visit to the holy gurdwara, believed to have been built on the site where Guru Nanak died in the 16th century, and located some 4 km inside Pakistan.

SNS Web | New Delhi | June 27, 2020kartarpur corridor

The 4.2 km corridor links Dera Baba Nanak town in Gurdaspur district with Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Shakargarh tehsil in Narowal district of Pakistan. (Photo: Twitter | @shubh_arora10)

Pakistan on Saturday decided to reopen the Kartarpur Corridor for Sikh pilgrims on Monday on the occasion of the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the 19th century leader of the Sikh empire.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi took to microblogging website Twitter to make the announcement.

“As places of worship open up across the world, Pakistan prepares to reopen the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor for all Sikh pilgrims, conveying to the Indian side our readiness to reopen the corridor on 29 June 2020, the occasion of the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh,” Qureshi said in a tweet.

India has, however, sought to be cautious over the development.

Government sources, quoted by news agency ANI, said cross- border travel has been temporarily suspended as part of measures to prevent and contain the spread of Coronavirus.

They added that further view would be taken in consultation with health authorities and other stakeholders concerned.

In a sharp snub to Islamabad’s decision, the government sources said, “It is to be noted that Pakistan is trying to create mirage of goodwill by proposing to resume Kartarpur Corridor on 29 June, at short notice of two days, while bilateral agreement provides for information to be shared by India with Pakistan side at least 7 days before date of travel.”

They said the reopening of the Kartarpur Corridor for Sikh pilgrims would need India to open up the registration process well in advance. The sources also noted that Pakistan has not built the bridge on their side across the flood plains of Ravi river despite having committed to it in the bilateral agreement.

“With the advent of monsoon, it would need to be evaluated whether pilgrim movement is possible through the corridor in a safe and secure manner,” they asserted.

Pakistan in July last year agreed in-principle to build a bridge on the zero line of the Kartarpur Corridor to provide all-weather connectivity. India had started work on a bridge on the zero line; Pakistan, however, had insisted on constructing a causeway, which India believes would act as a barrier, directing more floodwater towards India.

Notably, the corridor was temporarily closed on March 16 in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The 4.2 km corridor links Dera Baba Nanak town in Gurdaspur district with Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Shakargarh tehsil in Narowal district of Pakistan.

India and Pakistan in October 2019 signed an agreement to operationalise the Kartarpur Corridor to allow Indian pilgrims a visa-free visit to the holy gurdwara, believed to have been built on the site where Guru Nanak died in the 16th century, and located some 4 km inside Pakistan.

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