India and Pakistan to Hold First Meeting Since Kashmir Escalation

After February bombing almost triggered war between two nuclear-armed rivals, diplomats slated to discuss opening corridor and new border crossing with India

A National Akali Dal leader shouts slogans in support of India and against Pakistan as he celebrates reports of Indian aircrafts bombing Pakistan territory, in New Delhi, India, February 26, 2019.
Altaf Qadri/AP Photo

Officials from Pakistan and India are set to meet on Thursday in the first diplomatic contact between the two countries since a suicide bombing in the disputed region of Kashmir last month triggered an escalation in tensions between them.

A delegation of Pakistani diplomats crossed into India from a border crossing near the eastern city of Lahore, Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohamed Faisal said.

The diplomats would discuss the opening of a corridor and a new border crossing with India to allow Sikhs to visit one of their holiest shrines, Faisal added.

>>Read more: 'Israelis led India’s airstrikes': In Pakistan, the Hindu-Zionist conspiracy theory takes a wild turn | Opinion 

The opening of the corridor is meant to allow Sikh pilgrims from India to visit Kartarpur Sahib in the eastern Pakistani province of Punjab.

Raveesh Kumar, spokesman for the Indian Foreign Ministry, speaks during a media briefing in New Delhi, India, March 9, 2019.
Altaf Hussain/Reuters

The founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, spent the last 18 years of his life and died at Kartarpur Sahib, which is now in Pakistan.

Sikhs live in both countries and often face difficulties in visiting holy shrines due to tensions between Pakistan and India.

Last month's bombing almost triggered a war between the two nuclear-armed rivals, before tensions were defused with the help of international intervention. 

"This initiative [opening the border crossing] is aimed at turning animosity into friendship," Faisal told journalists before crossing into the Indian border town of Attari, where the meeting was to be held.