India, Pakistan contacts at "zero" despite border cooperation




  • In US
  • 2019-11-09 05:15:24Z
  • By Reuters

By Alasdair Pal

KARTARPUR, Pakistan, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Contacts between India and Pakistan are "zero", Pakistan's foreign minister said, even as the old rivals prepared to open a border crossing for Indian pilgrims to visit a Sikh temple, one of their most significant acts of cooperation in decades.

The border crossing pact between the nuclear-armed neighbours allows visa-free access from India to the Pakistani town of Kartarpur, home to a temple that marks the site where the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, died.

Hundreds of Indian delegates including members of the opposition Congress Party are expected to cross the border for the Saturday ceremony, though Pakistani officials familiar with the guest list said there was no representation from India's ruling Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.

Despite the good news on the border crossing, Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said relations had not been as strained as they are now since the two sides battled on their border for months in the northern area of Kargil in 1999.

"There is no back-channel. We've had wars, things have been worse than this, but things are bad," Qureshi told Reuters in an interview in the Pakistani city of Lahore late on Friday.

"For any sane mind, it is concerning."

A spokesman for India's foreign ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947.

They came close to a fourth in February after a suicide bomb attack by a Pakistan-based militant group killed scores of Indian paramilitary police in the Indian part of the disputed Kashmir region, which both countries claim.

Relations have been especially tense since August, when India stripped autonomy and statehood from its portion of Kashmir.

Pakistan reacted by cutting trade and transport ties and expelling India's ambassador.

The Punjab region, the ancestral home of the Sikh faith, was split between India and Pakistan at independence.

Many Sikhs then migrated to India. Sikhs in India have sought easier access to holy sites in Pakistan ever since.

Visas to travel between the two countries often take months to process.

The two countries hope that when fully operational, some 5,000 pilgrims will be able to cross into Pakistan every day through the new checkpoint, a huge increase on current numbers.

Travellers at Wagah, previously the sole border crossing, have fallen to less than 100 daily in each direction this year, officials on both sides have told Reuters.

Pakistan cancelled the last remaining public transport links - a bus and two train services - running between the two countries in August. (Reporting by Alasdair Pal in Kartarpur; Editing by Alexandra Ulmer, Robert Birsel)

COMMENTS

More Related News

Google pulls 'Remove China Apps' from Play Store
Google pulls 'Remove China Apps' from Play Store

Remove China Apps, an app that gained popularity in India in recent weeks and did exactly what its name suggests, has been pulled from the Play Store. The top trending app in India, which was downloaded more than 5 million times since late May and enabled users to detect and easily delete apps developed by Chinese firms, was pulled from Android's marquee app store for violating Google Play Store's Deceptive Behaviour Policy, TechCrunch has learned. Under this policy an app on Google Play Store cannot make changes to a user's device settings, or features outside of the app without the user's knowledge and consent, and not it can encourage or incentivize users into removing or disabling...

India
India's Modi gets Trump invite to attend G7 summit: ministry

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has received an invitation from U.S. President Donald Trump to attend the next Group of Seven summit, India's Foreign Affairs Ministry said on Tuesday. In a telephone call, Modi told Trump New Delhi would be happy to work with the United States and other countries to ensure the success of the next G7 summit, the ministry said in a statement. Trump said on Saturday he was postponing until September the summit that had been scheduled for late June at Camp David, the U.S. president's country retreat, and that he wanted to invite Australia, Russia, South Korea and India to the meeting.

India ends COVID lockdown despite soaring infections
India ends COVID lockdown despite soaring infections

End of world's biggest coronavirus lockdown will be a relief to millions struggling to survive, but the "economic focus" is a gamble.

India coronavirus: Huge crowds as some train services resume
India coronavirus: Huge crowds as some train services resume

Indian railways begins operating 200 trains amid reports of chaos after weeks of lockdown.

India expels Pakistan embassy officials for alleged spying
India expels Pakistan embassy officials for alleged spying

Two officials at Pakistan's High Commission in New Delhi were being expelled for "espionage activities", India's foreign ministry said late Sunday, allegations its nuclear-armed rival called "baseless". Tensions are already heightened between the neighbouring foes over the Himalayan region of Kashmir, which was split between them in 1947 when they gained independence from Britain. "The government has declared both these officials persona non grata for indulging in activities incompatible with their status as members of a diplomatic mission," the ministry said in a statement.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: US