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A view of the market after the revoking of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, in Leh on Monday (ANI photo)
A view of the market after the revoking of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, in Leh on Monday (ANI photo)

India, Pakistan officials hold talks

  • The meeting at the Zero point, where the Indian and Pakistani sides of the proposed corridor converge, was attended by 10-15 officials from each side
  • The talks lasted nearly two hours during which technical aspects related to the corridor were discussed

New Delhi: Officials from India and Pakistan on Friday held talks on the construction of roads and a bridge to allow Sikh pilgrims from India to cross into Pakistan, the first such meeting after New Delhi revoked a provision in its Constitution granting special status to Kashmir earlier this month that sparked tensions between the two.

The meeting at the Zero point, where the Indian and Pakistani sides of the proposed corridor converge, was attended by 10-15 officials from each side, an official of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) told PTI. The talks lasted nearly two hours during which technical aspects related to the corridor were discussed, said T.S. Chahal, chief engineer with the NHAI. "The meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere," he added.

Officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Border Security Force, Land Port Authority of India, which is constructing a state-of-the-art passenger terminal building, also attended the meeting, PTI said.

The corridor aims to connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan's Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims, who will have to obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib. The Kartarpur Corridor is expected to open in time to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism, in November. Indian Sikh pilgrims have been asking for the opening of the corridor for decades, given that the Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara is the place where the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev, spent the last years of his life.

The talks come amid heightened tensions between India and Pakistan due to the revocation of Article 370 of the Constitution, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir. India also had bifurcated the state into two Union Territories. Pakistan condemned the Indian move, downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelled the Indian High Commissioner.

On Friday, in an opinion piece in the New York Times, Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan sought talks with India on the pre-condition that New Delhi revoke the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. Khan’s latest demand was made in an article in the New York Times published on Friday.

“Through dialogue and negotiations, the stakeholders can arrive at a viable solution to end the decades of suffering of the Kashmiri people and move toward a stable and just peace in the region," Khan said, making it clear that the stakeholders mentioned includes the Kashmiri people.

“But dialogue can start only when India reverses its illegal annexation of Kashmir, ends the curfew and lockdown, and withdraws its troops to the barracks," he wrote in his piece.

“It is imperative that the international community think beyond trade and business advantages. World War II happened because of appeasement at Munich. A similar threat looms over the world again, but this time under the nuclear shadow," he added.

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