Indian and Pakistani experts discuss Kartarpur corridor alignment

Pakistani and Indian experts met on Tuesday to discuss Kartarpur corridor’s construction work. (Photo courtesy: social media)
Updated 19 March 2019

Indian and Pakistani experts discuss Kartarpur corridor alignment

  • The meeting was held in a positive and constructive environment, reads FO statement
  • Pakistan has completed a 4-kilometer long road on her side

LAHORE: Indian and Pakistan technical experts on Tuesday held a meeting at Kartarpur corridor’s Zero Point to finalize the development plan of the proposed passage and try to make it functional before the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, in November this year.

According to an official handout circulated by Pakistan’s Foreign Office soon after the gathering, “the meeting was held in a positive and constructive environment.”

Kartarpur corridor is meant to provide India’s Sikh pilgrims visa-free access to one of the most sacred shrines of their faith, Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, which was built at a place where Guru Nanak had settled after his missionary travels.

Experts from the two sides jointly visited the proposed area for the corridor and discussed technical aspects of the construction of roads and accommodation for Sikh pilgrims.

“Both sides jointly surveyed the coordinates of the Zero Point and discussed technical details, including Finished Road Level, High Flood level etc. The two sides agreed on some technical aspects/details and expressed the hope to finalize other modalities at the earliest,” Pakistan’s official statement added.

Apart from that, both teams of experts exchanged documents containing their respective technical proposals which will now come under discussion in the next high level meeting of their diplomats on April 2, 2019, at Wahga border in Pakistan.

It is pertinent to mention that Pakistan and India are sharing the construction burden of the corridor in their respective areas. While Pakistan has built 4km route on her side, the route between Guru Nanak’s shrine and Zero Point will be constructed by India.

Pakistan also plans to construct residential facilities for Sikhs coming from India and other parts of the world, and India intends to construct a passenger terminal at the Zero Line. Taken together, the estimated cost of the project is likely to reach $1.9 billion.

The passenger terminal will have the capacity to manage immigration and customs clearance of over 5000 Sikh pilgrims on a daily basis. The second phase of the project will involve the construction of temporary accommodation and a hospital for pilgrims, along with the construction of a bridge on River Ravi.

The groundbreaking ceremony of the corridor in Pakistan was performed last year on November 28 by Prime Minister Imran Khan that was also attended by a delegation of Indian legislators, including cricketer-turned-politician Nuvjot Singh Sidhu.

Punishment unless first wife and arbitration body approve second marriage, Pakistan court rules

Updated 25 June 2019

Punishment unless first wife and arbitration body approve second marriage, Pakistan court rules

  • Verdict a “big win” for me and all women fighting against patriarchy, petitioner Dilshad Bibi says
  • Council of Islamic Ideology Chairman says no need to seek permission under Sharia law

ISLAMABAD: Dilshad Bibi, a woman who moved the court eight years ago against her husband for marrying for a second time, said on Tuesday the Islamabad High Court’s recent decision recommending punishment if male spouses did not get permission to remarry from an arbitration council as well as the first wife was a “big win” for women.
In a ruling on Monday, Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah said a man would be punished if he entered into a second marriage unless it was approved by a reconciliation council and his wife.
“It [the verdict] is a big win for me and all women who have been fighting against patriarchy and injustices in society,” Bibi told Arab News. “I never lost hope and faith in our justice system, and finally won the case after eight years of long struggle.”
Bibi and husband Liaqat Ali Meer tied the knot in May 2011. Meer remarried in January 2013 without seeking permission from his first wife or a reconciliation council whose permission is binding under Muslim family law in Pakistan.
Subsequently Bibi moved a local court against her husband which sentenced him to one month in prison and a fine of Rs5,000 ($32). The punishment was overturned by an appellate court in February 2017, after which Bibi went to the IHC.
On Monday, the IHC overturned the verdict that acquitted Bibi’s husband. Meer will now have to serve his term and pay the fine, and an appellate court will reexamine whether additional punishment is required.
“During the subsistence of an existing marriage, no man shall contract another marriage except with the previous permission in writing of the Arbitration Council,” the court ruled in a 12-page verdict, quoting a section of the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance, 1961 related to polygamy.
According to Islamabad Capital Territory Local Government Act, 2015, the federal government is responsible for establishing an “arbitration council” for the amicable settlement of disputes in a locality. The council comprises a panel of seven members, including at least one woman, who are nominated for a term of five years.
With Monday’s verdict, the court had not banned second marriage, Bibi’s lawyer Ali Hussain Bhatti said, but made it “compulsory for men to follow a due process before contracting a second marriage.”
“This is still a historic verdict and will help protect the rights of women,” he told Arab News.
Bibi said the IHC’s verdict would now serve as a precedent for future court cases and “help women get justice and equal rights.”
Having multiple wives is common in about a quarter of the world’s nations, predominantly conservative male-dominated communities in Africa and Muslim-majority countries where it is part of traditional or religious customs.
But campaigners say most polygamous marriages fuel poverty — with husbands neglecting one family over another — leaving thousands of women and children impoverished and easy prey for exploitation.
In Pakistan, polygamy is not widespread and is mostly common in rural areas in families without a male heir or in cases when men fell in love with another woman.
Rights campaigner Farzana Bari said Monday’s verdict would “encourage more women to fight for their rights and approach courts for justice in case of any unfair treatment by their husbands.”
Dr. Qibla Ayaz, chairman of Pakistan’s Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), a body that advises the government on the compatibility of laws with Islam, said Pakistani law was in contradiction with Sharia law which did not bind a man to seek permission from his first wife to contract a second marriage.
“If a man does not seek permission from his wife and the conciliation council before remarrying, he will be punished under the law of the land, but his second marriage will still remain valid,” Ayaz told Arab News, “Under Sharia law, there is no need to seek permission of the first wife.”