NEW DELHI: The government Saturday rejected a proposal by Pakistan to reopen the Kartarpur Corridor on June 29 saying that cross-border travel had been temporarily suspended as part of measures to prevent and contain the spread of Covid-19. Describing Pakistan's move to open the corridor in 2 days as a mirage of goodwill, government sources said this would only undermine the bilateral agreement which required India to share information with Pakistan a week before the date of travel.
Any further decision, they said, would be taken in consultation with health authorities and other stakeholders concerned.
Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had announced earlier in the day that Pakistan was ready to reopen the corridor on the occasion of the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
"As places of worship open up across the world, Pakistan prepares to reopen the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor for all Sikh pilgrims, conveying to the Indian side our readiness to reopen the corridor on 29 June 2020, the occasion of the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh," he had tweeted.
The pilgrimage to Kartarpur gurudwara in Pakistan had been "temporarily" stopped in March this year as the novel coronavirus hit the 2 countries.
The corridor has until now remained largely unaffected by hostilities in ties with both sides acknowledging the significance attached to it by the Sikhs. Indo-Pak ties this month hit a new low after India detained and expelled 2 Pakistan officials here for espionage. After Pakistan authorities retaliated by intimidating Indian officials in Islamabad, even kidnapping 2 Indian mission staff, the government called for Islamabad - for the first time since 2001 - to halve its high commission strength here.
Official sources here said though that Pakistan was trying to create a mirage of goodwill by proposing to resume Kartarpur corridor on June 29, at a short notice of 2 days, while the bilateral agreement provided for information to be shared by India with Pakistan side at least 7 days before the date of travel.
"This would need India to open up the registration process well in advance," said a source.
Besides, according to India, Pakistan has not built the bridge on their side across the flood plains of Ravi river despite having committed to it in the bilateral agreement.
"With the advent of monsoon, it would need to be evaluated whether pilgrim movement is possible through the corridor in a safe and secure manner," he said.