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Controversial Gopal Chawla's name in Kartarpur Commitee jeopardises next meet on Corridor

ANI | Updated: Mar 29, 2019 14:33 IST

New Delhi [India], Mar 29 (ANI): The next meeting on Kartarpur Corridor which was slated to be held in Pakistan tentatively on April 2, is now in limbo. 
It is learnt that India is upset by the constitution of the recently announced 10-member committee by the Pakistan Government to oversee Kartarpur Corridor as it includes some controversial names like that of Gopal Singh Chawla, Maninder Singh, Tara Singh, Bisan Singh and Kuljeet Singh
Government sources said these names are involved in secessionist and anti-India activities. In fact, Gopal is linked with Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and this has queered the pitch for Kartarpur Dialogue.
India on Friday summoned Deputy High Commissioner of Pakistan and sought clarification on what these controversial names have to do with the Kartarpur Corridor. Government sources said India is highly concerned about the security of its pilgrims and has made it clear to Pakistan in earlier meetings that the Corridor should not be used for anti-India secessionist activities. 
Sources said that while India wants to conclude Corridor in an expeditious manner and in letter and spirit but there can be no let up in security. “India is awaiting a response from Pakistan. Security is not the only sticking point,” Government sources told ANI adding there are certain issues that need to be addressed.
For instance, India has asked for a visa-free system for entry of the pilgrims at the Corridor and believes a passport is good enough document to prove identity and citizenship. However, it is learnt that Pakistan wants an entry fee.
India has also demanded entry of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card holders which Pakistan has not agreed to.  Besides, Pakistan is allowing only 500 to 700 pilgrims to the Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib on a daily basis citing infrastructure constraints while India wants about 5000 pilgrims daily and up to 15000 on special days keeping in view the huge demand. India also wants entry of pilgrims even at single level through foot while Pakistan is insisting on groups.
 “India has sought clarifications from Pakistan on key proposals put forward by India at the last meeting held in Attari to discuss the modalities of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor. India has also shared concerns and sought clarifications on reports that controversial elements have been appointed by Pakistan to a committee to be associated with the Kartarpur Corridor. It has been conveyed that the next meeting on the modalities can be scheduled at an appropriate time after receiving Pakistan’s response,” Indian Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement on Friday.
“In order to take forward the infrastructure development for the Corridor in an expeditious manner, India has proposed to hold another meeting of technical experts in mid-April to resolve outstanding issues at the zero point agreed to at the last meeting. The government of India remains committed to realise the long pending demand of the Indian pilgrims to visit the holy Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib using the Corridor in a safe, secure, smooth and easy manner,” MEA statement added.
Responding to India’s statement, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal said: “Pakistan regrets the Indian decision to postpone the upcoming Kartarpur meeting, jointly agreed by both sides on 14 March 2019. The meeting was to discuss and find consensus on outstanding issues. Last minute postponement without seeking views from Pakistan and especially after the productive technical meeting on 19 March is incomprehensible.” (ANI)

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