In a ‘cordial environment’, Pakistan and India Thursday agreed to work expeditiously on opening of Kartarpur Corridor, aimed at facilitating Sikh pilgrims to visit their holy sites on both sides of the border.The talks held between the delegations of Pakistan and India at Attari Complex, Amritsar, gave the two sides an opportunity to sort out modalities for the opening of the corridor between Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan and Gurdwara Baba Nanak in India for the upcoming 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak in December this year. Director General South Asia and SAARC Dr Faisal led the Pakistani delegation, comprising high officials of Ministry of Religious Affairs, Ministry of Communications, National Engineering Services Pakistan (NESPAK) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.The Indian side was headed by Joint Secretary Ministry of Home Affairs SCL Das. “Both sides held detailed and constructive discussions on various aspects and provisions of the proposed agreement and agreed to work towards expeditiously operationalizing the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor,” according to a joint statement issued by Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and India’s Ministry of External Affairs Ministry at the conclusion of the meeting.After 2015, this is the first joint statement between Pakistan and India, this time on Kartarpur Corridor talks. The statement read that the meeting, held in a cordial environment, discussed the modalities and the draft agreement for facilitation of pilgrims to visit Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib, using the Kartarpur Corridor. It was agreed to hold the next meeting at Wagah on April 2 as the Indian delegation will visit Pakistan. This will be preceded by a meeting of technical experts on March 19 at the proposed zero points to finalize the alignment, the joint statement added.Both sides also held expert-level discussions between the technical experts on the alignment and other details of the proposed corridor.Earlier, Director General South Asia and SAARC Dr Faisal said Pakistan is continuing with the spirit of constructive engagement and flexibility. Talking to media at Wagah border prior to cross over to Attari, Dr Faisal said the step is in line with Pakistan’s sincere efforts to deescalate the situation for regional peace and stability. He expressed hope that the initiative of Prime Minister Imran Khan will not only facilitate Sikhs, especially from India, but in the current vitiated situation, it can be a ‘step forward in right direction from conflict to cooperation, animosity to peace and enmity to friendship’.Kartarpur is a small town in Narowal, some four kilometres from the Pakistan-India border, where the founder of Sikh religion Baba Guru Nanak spent the last 18 years of his life. Subsequently, Gurdwara Darbar Sahab was built at the site on the Pakistan side and Gurdwara Dera Baba Nanak in India, which are visited by thousands of Sikhs every year.“Opening the corridor to allow Sikhs access to their most reverential place of worship has been a longstanding request of the Sikh community. This is also reflective of the importance and primacy that Pakistan gives to all its minorities,” Dr Faisal said.Published in Daily Times, March 15th 2019.