India flagged its security concerns during a meeting that took place between delegations of the two countries on the Pakistani side of the Attari-Wagah border to discuss the modalities of the Kartarpur corridor on Sunday. Such is the degree of mistrust between the neighbours that even an issue that carries the potential to set in place a template for cordiality and mutual accommodation – away from the regular India-Pakistan flare-ups and breakdown in talks – is made to negotiate bump after difficult bump. India had expressed concern that the neighbouring country might try to disrupt pilgrimage to the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara, following which Islamabad assured that no anti-India activity would be allowed. The corridor which has been seen as a link for normalising relations between India and Pakistan, which of late has been at a stand-off distance, has come to a new turn when New Delhi conveyed its strong concerns to Pakistan over the presence of a leading Khalistani separatist in a committee appointed by Islamabad on the project. The corridor holds huge significance for the Sikh community and it is incumbent upon the governments to ensure as hassle-free a pilgrimage as possible. Sunday’s in-principle concurrence by Pakistan to allow visa-free, year-long travel to Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara, increasing the daily intake substantially and not allowing anti-India activity, therefore, is a welcome development. India has been urging Pakistan that 5,000 pilgrims be allowed to visit the gurdwara every day and 10,000 additional pilgrims be allowed on special occasions with no restriction in terms of faith. The first round of corridor talks took place in March, not many days after Pakistan fully closed its airspace on February 27 following the Balakot airstrikes. It has not lifted the ban on Indian flights since, with a review on July 26, resulting in huge losses to the Indian aviation industry. Looking at the nature of the relationship, to test each other all the time New Delhi has clearly articulated its security concerns, and it looks the task ahead gets tougher.
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