Pakistan finds India's decision to defer Kartarpur meet 'incomprehensible'; New Delhi had red flagged pro-Khalistani faces on panel

Islamabad: Pakistan on Friday described as "incomprehensible" India's decision to reschedule the upcoming meeting of the experts on the Kartarpur Corridor.

India on Friday summoned Pakistan's deputy high commissioner in New Delhi and conveyed concerns over the presence of several Khalistani separatists in a committee appointed by Pakistan on the Kartarpur Corridor.

The Pakistani Cabinet constituted a ten-member Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC) to facilitate Sikh pilgrims after opening of Kartarpur Corridor, the state-run Radio Pakistan reported.

 Pakistan finds Indias decision to defer Kartarpur meet incomprehensible; New Delhi had red flagged pro-Khalistani faces on panel

Indian and Pakistani officials during during the Kartarpur Corridor talks in Attari earlier. PTI

However, it did not name the members of the committee.

The next meeting of technical experts on the Kartarpur corridor was earlier scheduled in Wagah on the Pakistani side of the border on April 2 and was "jointly agreed by both sides" on 14 March, the Foreign Office said here.

"Pakistan regrets the Indian decision to postpone the upcoming Kartarpur meeting. The meeting was to discuss and find consensus on outstanding issues," Mohammad Faisal, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, tweeted following a statement from Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Friday.

"Last minute postponement without seeking views from Pakistan and especially after the productive technical meeting on 19 March is incomprehensible," Faisal tweeted.

The foreign office said that the 10-member purely-religious committee referred to by India was indeed PSGPC and was not specific to Kartarpur but responsible for upkeep of all Sikh Gurdwaras in Pakistan.

"It is not a new mechanism but was constituted under Section 3 of the 'Scheme for Renovation, Maintenance and Preservation of Sikh Holy Shrines' in 2004 and is reconstituted after every three years," it said.

The foreign office said that "postponing the meeting only endangers Pakistan's Kartarpur initiative".

Faisal's response comes shortly after India said it had "sought clarifications from Pakistan on key proposals put forward by India at the last meeting held in Attari to discuss the modalities of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor".

An MEA statement in India said it has been conveyed to the Paksitani side that the next meeting on the modalities of the corridor can be scheduled at an appropriate time after receiving Pakistan's response.

In order to take forward the infrastructure development for the corridor in an expeditious manner, India has proposed to hold another meeting of technical experts in mid-April to resolve outstanding issues at the zero point agreed to at the last meeting, the statement said.

Last November, India and Pakistan agreed to set up the border crossing linking Gurudwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, the final resting place of Sikh faith's founder Guru Nanak Dev, to Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India's Gurdaspur district.

Kartarpur Sahib is located in Pakistan's Narowal district across the river Ravi, about four km from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine.

Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh had on 26 November last year laid the foundation stone of the Kartarpur Corridor in Gurdaspur district.

Two days later, Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation stone of the corridor in Narowal, 125 km from Lahore.

Updated Date: Mar 30, 2019 12:19:04 IST