Pakistan’s offer to reopen Kartarpur Corridor on 29 June attempt to create ‘mirage of goodwill’, say Indian govt sources

Islamabad: Pakistan has conveyed its readiness to India to reopen the Kartarpur Corridor on Monday on the occasion of the death anniversary of Sikh ruler Maharaja Ranjeet Singh, the Foreign Office said on Saturday, over three months after it was temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sources in the government of India in New Delhi said Pakistan is trying to create a mirage of goodwill by proposing to reopen the corridor on 29 June. They said India will take a decision on the matter after consulting health authorities and other concerned stakeholders.

India had temporarily suspended the pilgrimage and registration for the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan on 16 March in view of the coronavirus outbreak.

The sources also wondered why Pakistan proposed to reopen it in such a short notice of two days while a bilateral agreement on the corridor provided for information to be shared by both sides at least seven days before the date of travel.

Earlier, the Pakistan Foreign Office had said, “As the religious places are gradually opening up around the world, Pakistan has also made necessary arrangements to reopen Kartarpur Sahib Corridor for Sikh pilgrims.”

“To ensure adherence to the health guidelines, Pakistan has invited India to work out necessary SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) for the reopening of the corridor,” it said.

In November last year, the two countries threw open the corridor linking Dera Baba Sahib in Gurdaspur in India and Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan, in a historic people-to-people initiative.

Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara is located in Pakistan’s Narowal district across the river Ravi, about four kilometres from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine. It is the final resting place of Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak Dev, who had spent the last 18 years of his life in Kartarpur.

Indian pilgrims of all faiths are allowed to undertake round the year visa-free travel to the historic gurdwara.

The FO said that the Kartarpur Corridor is a true symbol of peace and religious harmony and this landmark initiative by Pakistan has been immensely appreciated by the Sikh community all over the world, including India.

The relations between India and Pakistan nosedived after India scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on 5 August, 2019 and bifurcated it into two union territories. Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties with India and expelled the Indian High Commissioner.

On Tuesday, India told Pakistan to slash its embassy staff in New Delhi by half – saying it would do the same in Islamabad amidst allegations of spying.

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