‘Kartarpur talks a technical meeting, not public event’

The March 14 Kartarpur talks are a formal, professional meeting and not a public event, sources said in response to reports of visa denials to Pakistani journalists for the talks between Indian and Pakistan.

Pakistan has alleged that its journalists have been denied visas to cover Thursday’s meeting.

“Regrettable that #India has not given visas to #Pakistani journalists for the #kartarpur meeting tomorrow. Hope the #PakKartarpurSpirit and meeting tomorrow will bring a change for the better for people of both countries,” Mohammad Faisal, the spokesperson for the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted.

Notwithstanding the heightened tensions following the Pulwama terror attack, India and Pakistan will be holding the first meeting to discuss and finalise modalities for the Kartarpur Corridor at the Attari-Wagah on March 14.

India plans to build the Rs 190 crore passenger terminal building complex by September 2019. It will have 54 immigration counters that will facilitate the movement of 5000 pilgrims every day. Meanwhile, India has also acquired 50 acres of land for the corridor, sources added.

The facility’s minimum capacity is 5,000 people, while it will be able to handle a maximum of 15,000 pilgrims on special occasions, the sources said.

Commenting on security at the Kartarpur Corridor, sources said that security is paramount. “Security is paramount. It is a national concern – it is not a bilateral but our sovereign concern as we are creating a facility on the international border. BSF will take care of security at the corridor. It will be under surveillance and will be completely secure,” the sources mentioned.

Sources also outlined that India expects Pakistan to not indulge in propaganda activities at the Kartarpur pilgrimage site.

The Kartarpur Corridor is a long pending demand of Indian devotees which have been a matter of discussion since 1999 when Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited Lahore. It also figured in discussions in composite dialogue, where Pakistan was asked to make Kartarpur part of 1974 protocol as one of the holy shrines in 2005, sources said.

“We exchanged modalities how to mobilise and develop infrastructure so that passage of pilgrims is smooth and in the spirit of religious fervour. We shared coordinates, there is a technical mismatch on many aspects. Tomorrow when we meet, we want to work in a constructive manner and will be approaching the talks with positive and constructive manner, hoping that Pakistan will reciprocate,” the sources said while talking about the impending meeting.

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