India has urged Pakistan to show "some flexibility" on the Kartarpur Corridor to ensure the celebrations of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev are conducted smoothly. Earlier in the day, Pakistan said that pilgrims will be charged $20 as service charge for visiting the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara.
"The third joint secretary level meeting took place on September 4 at Attari in Punjab to finalise the modalities for the facilitation of pilgrims who would visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said today.
"We had hoped that all pending issues would be resolved. However, we realise that Pakistan was quite inflexible during the talks and there are three instances where we approached them to show some flexibility," he added.
Mr Kumar told media that this was "strongly opposed" by India.
"They (Pakistan) also did not agree to the initial number (10,000 pilgrims) which we had proposed to visit Kartarpur Sahib during the special occasion. That was not agreed to by them. They cited some constraints in infrastructure, but we did request them to show some flexibility on this. And the third was the presence of our protocol officer, who should accompany the pilgrims to visit Kartarpur Sahib every day," Mr Kumar said.
On all these three counts, India did not get a favourable response, Mr Kumar said.
"We remain committed to the project. We are on schedule. We are confident that all our projects will be completed before the scheduled time. We have urged Pakistan to show some flexibility. It is involving the sensitivity of the people," he said.
"It is a long-pending demand and we have urged them that Pakistan has to show a little bit of flexibility on this matter so that we can proceed without any hindrance in the run-up to the celebrations of 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev ji," he added.
Earlier this month, India and Pakistan had failed to finalise an agreement on the Kartarpur corridor following differences over key issues including Islamabad's insistence on charge a fee for allowing pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib.
During the meeting, both the sides agreed on visa-free travel by Indian pilgrims to the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan using the corridor. Moreover, it will allow as many as 5,000 pilgrims to visit the Gurdwara every day.
The Kartarpur corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district of Punjab.
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