[op-ed snap] Kartarpur focus


Mains Paper 2: IR | India & its neighborhood- relations.

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Challenges in talks to formulate the kartarpur corridor



India and Pakistan announced in November they would operationalise a corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab to Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan’s Punjab.

Optimistic Background

  • It was hailed as a step forward in an otherwise fraught relationship.
  • Prime Minister appeared to share the optimism when he likened the initiative’s potential to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Challenges in the formulation of the corridor

  • There has been round upon round of wrangling between the two governments over every detail like
    •  The number of pilgrims to be accommodated,
    • The security restrictions.
    • The documentation and mode of transport to be used by pilgrims.


  • The base of the differences is the deep distrust between the two governments
    • A chasm that has deepened in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack and the Balakot strike.
    • Pakistan Prime Ministers administration feels it should be given more credit for having cleared the Kartarpur proposal
    • For its part, New Delhi refuses to acknowledge Pakistan’s overture, and has made it clear the corridor will have no connection with furthering bilateral talks on other issues.
  • Meanwhile, security agencies have voiced concerns about a possible attempt by Pakistan’s military establishment to use the corridor to fuel separatist Khalistani sentiment.


  • Khalsitan Concerns
    • The government’s decision now to postpone the next round of technical talks, which were scheduled for April 2, is driven mainly by those concerns.
    • In particular the inclusion of some known Khalistan activists in a gurdwara committee that would interact with pilgrims from India.
    • Last week, the Ministry of External Affairs summoned Pakistan’s Deputy High Commissioner and sought clarifications on the “controversial elements” on the committee, and said the next meeting would only be held after it receives Pakistan’s response.

Balancing security and corridor

  • While none of the government’s concerns is unwarranted, it could not have been unprepared when it embarked on the corridor proposal.
  • Pakistan’s support to separatist Sikh groups goes back several decades.
  • India must work to secure its border from the threat even as it opens the gates for thousands of pilgrims to travel to Pakistan.
  • National security must get priority.
  • But for this, there must be an effort by all stakeholders in India — the Centre, the State government and the leadership of the BJP, the Akalis and the Congress — to resist scoring political points against one another.

Way Forward

  • Modalities and technical issues, such as on the numbers, eligibility and identity proof required for the trip to Kartarpur Sahib, should be ironed out by both governments.
  • Putting off meetings is hardly a constructive solution, given the proposed opening by November to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.
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