Service charge row: India urges Pakistan to show ‘flexibility’ in Kartarpur talks

NEW DELHI: India on Thursday urged Islamabad to show ‘flexibility’ on Kartarpur talks and again rejected the Pakistani intent to charge 20 USD as ‘service fees’ for each pilgrim.
“During and before Attari talks, we had hoped that all pending issues will be resolved. However, we realised that Pakistan was quite inflexible. There are three instances, we opposed them and hoped that Pakistan will show some flexibility. The first one was on their insistence for a 20 dollar service or entry fees per pilgrim,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Raveesh Kumar told reporters here.
He said during the September 3 talks, this was “strongly opposed” by the Indian side.
Pakistani side also did not agree to allow about 10,000 pilgrims per day and also on permitting protocol officers to accompany the pilgrims.
The MEA spokesman said,”On these three accounts, we did not get a favourable response. We remain committed to the project as far as all infrastructure works remain. We have urged Pakistan to show some flexibility,” he said adding as the matter involve the sentiments of the people.
Earlier in the day, Pakistan foreign ministry spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal said in Islamabad that Pakistan government will charge “20 USD per person as service fees and not entrance fees for Kartarpur Corridor”.
Answering questions, Mr Raveesh Kumar said either entrance fees and service charge do not make any difference.
“The nomenclature does not matter….Either way, they want each pilgrim to make payment of 20 dollars. This is not acceptable to India,” Mr Kumar said.
On November 26, 2018, the foundation stone for the Kartarpur corridor was laid down on the Indian side. Two days later the foundation stone for the corridor was laid down on the Pakistani side too.
The Indian authorities and army officials have indicated that the Kartarpur dialogue should be viewed in “isolation” and de-linked from overall bilateral talks between the two countries.
Formal bilateral talks stalled as India insisted that Pakistan take concrete and convincing steps against hideouts of ultras and various terror groups operating from that country.