New Delhi: In keeping with Government’s decision to operationalise the Kartarpur Corridor on the occasion of the 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev ji in November this year and meet the long pending public demand to have easy and smooth access to the holy Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib, the first meeting between India and Pakistan to discuss and finalize the modalities for Kartarpur Corridor would be held at Attari-Wagah (Indian side) on March 14.

The Pakistan delegation will visit New Delhi on March 14, followed by the return visit of the Indian delegation to Islamabad on March 28, to discuss the draft agreement on Kartarpur Corridor, for setting up a corridor to facilitate visa-free visit of Sikh pilgrims to the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib.

India has also proposed that a technical level discussion on the alignment of the corridor be held on the same day on the sidelines of this meeting. It must be seen as “a positive development” that could help ease tensions between the two sides.

The Corridor can be a new beginning of reconciliation between the two neighbors - India and Pakistan and facilitation of bilateral trade and people to people contact to make borders “irrelevant”.

We cannot change our borders but let us make them “irrelevant” by facilitating trade and encouraging people-to-people contact. This will usher in peace and progress for both India and Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the “positive development” has come amid heightened tensions between India and Pakistan following a suicide attack in Pulwama by Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad on February 14 in which 40 CRPF jawans were martyred.

Taking an alleged tough stand against terror groups, Pakistan has also detained 44 members of the banned militant outfits, including JeM chief Masood Azhar’s son Hammad Azhar and brother Mufti Abdur Rauf, in a move seen as “a step toward deescalating tensions”.

Recently, ties between India and Pakistan have nose-dived following a spate of terror attacks on Indian military bases by Pakistan based terror groups since January 2016, the recent being the dastardly Pulwama terror attack. After Uri terror attack, in which 18 soldiers were martyred, India had pulled out of the SAARC Summit to be held in Islamabad in November, 2016. Later, the summit was called off after Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan also declined to participate in the meet.

However, the planned Kartarpur Corridor will connect Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak Dev’s final resting place in Pakistan’s Kartarpur to the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district in India, fulfilling a long-pending demand of the Sikh community.

Kartarpur Sahib is located in Pakistan’s Narowal district across the river Ravi, about four kilometres from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine. Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, the first Gurdwara, was established by Guru Nanak Dev in 1522, where he is said to have died.

It may be recalled that in January this year, the two countries floated proposals to host talks in order to give the final shape to the agreement. The decision to build the Corridor was taken by the Union Cabinet on November 22.

Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on November 26 last year laid the foundation stone for the Kartarpur Corridor in Gurdaspur district. Two days later, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation stone for the Corridor at Narowal, 125 km from Lahore.