NEW DELHI: India has proposed to set up a special-purpose consulate with the presence of diplomats at Kartarpur in Pakistan to cater to pilgrims who visit the Gurudwara Darbar Sahib there, officials said.
Discussions on land for the proposed consulate were taken up during the second rounds of talks between India and Pakistan at the Wagah border on Sunday, they added. Pakistan has agreed to most India’s demands on the corridor and setting up the consulate is among the proposals still being considered.
If Pakistan agrees to the plan, it would widen India’s diplomatic presence beyond its high commission in Islamabad. The Indian sed since the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition and attempts to reopen it hinge on Pakistan being allowed to operationalise its consulate in Mumbai.
However, Pakistan has raised queries over the setting up of the consulate at Kartarpur since it has agreed to allow low visa-free access to 5,000 visitors a day, said officials who were part of the deliberations. India conveyed its concerns over the presence of pro-Khalistan elements at the site and urged Pakistan not to allow anti-India activities.
“Concerns regarding individuals or organisations based in Pakistan who may try to disrupt the pilgrimage and misuse the opportunity to play with the sentiments of the pilgrims were shared. A dossier was handed over to Pakistan side to highlight concerns in the matter,” India said in a statement after the discussions.
Pakistan agreed to consider the issue of encroachment and acquisition of land belonging to the gurudwara. India asked the authorities to restore such land to honour religious sentiments.
On the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev in November this year, the Sikh Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee and the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee plan to take out a ‘Nagar Kirtan’ from New Delhi to Nankana Sahib in Pakistan.
“We have requested Pakistan to allow 10,000 Indian pilgrims to visit Pakistan under the 1974 protocol which is under their (Pak) consideration,” the official told ET.
The Kartarpur Corridor will connect the Sikh shrines of Dera Baba Nanak Sahib in India and Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur in Pakistan. India has conveyed concerns over the
possible flooding of Dera Baba Nanak and its adjoining areas because of an earth-filled embankment that Pakistan plans to build on its side.
Pakistan highlighted infrastructural constraints for building a bridge at the crossing point, following which the Indian delegation presented a detailed flood analysis.
“We explained that an earth-fill embankment or causeway will create problems for our people and should not be built even in the interim. We shared the details of the bridge that we are building on our side. Pakistani side agreed, in principle, to build a bridge at the earliest,” the official added.