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India calls off Kartarpur corridor talks as Pakistan takes pro-Khalistani on panel
March 30, 2019
NEW DELHI: India has called off the second phase of the Indo-Pak talks on Kartarpur corridor project schedled for April 2 in protest against Pakistan including a Khalistan separatist in its committee.

Gopal Singh Chawla, the controversial member of the Pak panel, is said to be a supporter of the Khalistan movement and has annections with LeT's Hafiz Saeed. Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had announced Chawla’s inclusion last week.

India had “sought clarification from Pakistan on key proposals put forward by India at the last meeting" held on 14 March in Attari to discuss the modalities involved in opening the corridor, India’s foreign affairs ministry said.

“India has also shared concerns and sought clarification on reports that controversial elements have been appointed by Pakistan to a committee to be associated with the Kartarpur Corridor," India said.

“It has been conveyed that the next meeting on the modalities can be scheduled at an appropriate time after receiving Pakistan’s response," it said.

Pakistan said India’s decision to reschedule the meeting of experts on the Kartarpur Corridor is “incomprehensible". “#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 & find consensus on outstanding issues," Pakistan’s foreign office spokesman Mohammad Faisal said in a Twitter post. “Last minute Postponement without seeking views from #Pakistan and especially after the productive technical meeting on 19 March is incomprehensible," he said.

India's concerns were conveyed to Pakistan’s deputy high commissioner Syed Haider Shah, who was called to the Ministry of External Affairs on Friday.

The first round of talks were held in Attari on March 14. The Kartarpur corridor will connect Dera Baba Nanak gurdwara in India to Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara in Pakistan. The project is scheduled to open in November to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, founder of Sikhism.

The number of pilgrims that can be allowed a day to go, documents required, period of stay etc were yet to be sorted out. India wanted permission for 5000 people on a normal day round the year, and on special festival days the number at 10,000. Pakistan wanted a smaller number and to charge a fee. India wants that people from anywhere and of any religious orientation be allowed.

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