Kartapur meet: India deny visas to Pakistani journalists

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Shamim Mehmood

ISLAMABAD

The Foreign Office on Wednesday expressed disappointment at the Indian government’s decision to not issue visas to Pakistani journalists to cover tomorrow’s meeting on the Kartarpur Corridor.

A Pakistani delegation will visit India tomorrow [March 14]. Indian and Pakistani officials will meet at Attari, near Amritsar, according to Indian media. This will be followed by a visit to Islamabad of an Indian delegation on March 28.

Earlier in January, Pakistan had shared its draft of the proposed agreement on the Kartarpur Corridor with India and called for initiation of negotiations for its finalisation. In February, after a bit of wrangling over the venue of the talks, the two countries had agreed in principle on reciprocal visits of officials for negotiating and finalising the agreement.

“Regrettable that India has not given visas to Pakistani journalists for the Kartarpur meeting tomorrow,” said Dr Mohammad Faisal, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on Wednesday via Twitter.

He added “Hope the #PakKartarpurSpirit and meeting tomorrow will bring a change for the better for people of both countries.”

In another tweet, Dr Faisal pointed out that the groundbreaking ceremony of the Kartarpur Corridor in Pakistan last year was covered by more than 30 Indian journalists.

“They also met Prime Minister Imran Khan and were hosted by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi for a dinner during their stay,”he added.

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reaffirmed its commitment to continuing negotiations on proposed Kartarpur Corridor agreement and announced that the two neighbouring countries would exchange visits by their respective delegations.

The announcement came a week after the Indian Air Force (IAF) violated Pakistani airspace following the Feb 14 attack targeting Indian security forces in Indian-occupied Kashmir’s Pulwama area.

Two intruding IAF jets were later downed by Pakistan and a pilot was captured only to be released as a unilateral goodwill gesture.

Amidst rhetoric by Indian officials in the aftermath of the attack, Pakistan had called back its high commissioner in India for consultations on Feb 18. The high commissioner returned to India last week as tensions began to defuse after intervention by influential world capitals.