The Indian government believes Pakistan has shifted the goalposts for the Kartarpur corridor project, including caps on the number of pilgrims using it every day and the introduction of a paid permit system, people familiar with developments said on Saturday.
They said India also lambasted Pakistan for its "double-speak" on the matter. "There is a sea of difference between what Pakistan, including Prime Minister Imran Khan, had announced and what they offered at Attari", the sources added. "Clearly, Pakistan is not interested in providing Indian pilgrims easy access to Kartarpur Sahib", the official said.
Pakistan while assuring visa-free corridor to the pilgrims has added a condition wherein the pilgrims will be required to furnish a special permit, defeating the basic goal of having the dedicated corridor, the sources told ANI. India had demanded that upto 5,000 pilgrims be allowed daily, and even approved a state-of-the-art passenger terminal building to handle 5,000 pilgrims daily.
Kartarpur corridor: Punjab BJP chief fumes at Pak over new conditions
The talks held between the delegations of Pakistan and India at Attari Complex, Amritsar, gave the two sides an opportunity to sort out modalities for the opening of the corridor between Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan and Gurdwara Baba Nanak in India for the upcoming 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak in December this year.
Pakistan has so far resisted all attempts to include Kartarpur in the 1974 MoU, the official said.
Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated last month, after the Pakistani military shot down two Indian warplanes in the disputed region of Kashmir, responding to an earlier airstrike by Indian aircraft against what New Delhi said was a camp of Jaish-e-Mohammad group, considered terrorists by India and located on the Pakistani soil across the so-called Line of Control, separating India- and Pakistan- controlled areas of Kashmir.More news: April the Giraffe welcomes new calf into the world, park officials say
As per that agreement, there are 15 shrines in Pakistan and seven in India where each other's pilgrims can visit.
Director General South Asia and SAARC Dr Faisal led the Pakistani delegation, comprising high officials of Ministry of Religious Affairs, Ministry of Communications, National Engineering Services Pakistan (NESPAK) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
A day after both the countries held delegation-level talks on the corridor to discuss modalities, government sources told news agency ANI on Friday that Pakistan has said the capping of Indian pilgrims visiting the shrine per day should be at 700.More news: Mosque attack hero 'saved many more lives by grabbing terrorist's gun'
The Indian side was headed by Joint Secretary Ministry of Home Affairs SCL Das. This will be preceded by a meeting of technical experts on March 19 at the proposed zero points to finalize the alignment, the joint statement added.
Both sides held detailed and constructive discussions on various aspects and provisions of the proposed agreement.
They agreed to hold the next meeting at Wagah on 2 April.More news: Canada drawn into tough World Cup group with Lithuania, Australia and Senegal