Swaraj to discuss Kartarpur corridor with Pak foreign minister
New Delhi: Amid a political row over the Kartarpur Sahib corridor opening issue, India has announced that it will raise the matter formally with Pakistan once again next week.
The issue will be flagged by India when External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj travels to New York for UNGA (United Nations General Assembly). Swaraj will hold a meeting with her Pakistani counterpart Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi along the UNGA sidelines, announced India today. MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar clarified that no formal proposal for opening up of the nearly 4-km long corridor revered by Sikh pilgrims has been received from Islamabad.
“Even now, we have not received any official communication that the Pakistani government is willing to consider this matter. EAM will, therefore, raise this issue in her meeting with the Pakistani Foreign Minister on the sidelines of UNGA,” said Raveesh Kumar.
India also underlined that despite several requests, including during late PM Vajpayee’s Lahore visit in 1999, to consider a visa free visit to the Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara, the shrine is still not a part of the list under the 1974 Protocol. The Protocol lists out the religious shrines between India and Pakistan to facilitate visits of pilgrims from each side. Subsequently the matter was raised between 2004 and 2005 by former PM Manmohan Singh, former Punjab CM Prakash Singh Badal and at the Foreign Secretary level talks. “In 2005, Pakistan agreed to allow visit to three shrines with visas, including to Kartarpur but did not include it in Protocol. In 2008, the then EAM (External Affairs Minister) raised the issue of Kartarpur Sahib corridor with the then Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. However, there has not been any official response from Pakistani side since then,” said Raveesh Kumar.