Pakistan removes pro-Khalistani leader from Kartarpur panel, but includes another

Last Updated: Sat, Jul 13, 2019 17:00 hrs

New Delhi/Islamabad, July 13 (IANS) Acceding to India's request, Pakistan has removed pro-Khalistani leader Gopal Singh Chawla from a panel linked to the Kartarpur corridor, ahead of Sunday's meeting between officials of the two sides on the cross-border corridor.

The Pakistan government announced a new 10-member Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) on Friday, minus Chawla, following objections from India.

However, the PSGPC has included another known pro-Khalistani leader, Ameer Singh, in the panel. Ameer Singh is said to be the brother of known Khalistani leader Bishen Singh. Ameer is also said to be among the frontline leaders of the Khalistani movement in Pakistan, according to the Political Edge.

Chawla was the general secretary of the PSGPC.

India had voiced objections to the presence of pro-Khalistani elements in the PSGPC panel which would coordinate the activities of the Kartarpur corridor, including movement of Sikh pilgrims from India to Narowal in Pakistan where the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan, is located.

Guru Nank Dev, the founder of Sikhism, spent his final days at the Kartarpur gurdwara.

The second round of talks, being held at Wagah on the Pakistani side was originally scheduled for April 2, but India raised objections to the presence of Chawla in the PSGPC panel.

The corridor will allow pilgrims to travel from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India's Gurdaspur district to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur in Pakistan. It will be thrown open on November 2 to mark the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev.

According to sources, the issues to be discussed at the July 14 meeting would include who can visit the Kartarpur shrine, how they can move across the corridor, the documentation required; whether it would be visa-free, and the facilities to ensure smooth, safe and unhindered movement.

Other issues to be taken up would be how the pilgrims are required to travel, in groups or individually, and the choice of transport -- whether by foot or bus.

"We are going for the meeting with high expectations. Our side of the corridor will be ready and we hope the other side is coming up with matching response," a source said in New Delhi on Friday.

--IANS

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