KARACHI: An Indian delegation, including two ministers and the former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu, will travel to Pakistan to attend on November 28 the groundbreaking ceremony of Kartarpur border corridor to be built from Indian border to one of the most sacred sites of Sikhs in Punjab’s Narowal district.
Pakistan hails India’s decision to open Kartarpur corridor as ‘victory of peace’
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Saturday invited his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj to the ceremony. However, Swaraj, while thanking Qureshi for the invitation, excused herself from attending the event citing her election campaign commitments.
On behalf of Pakistan I have extended an invitation to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj @SushmaSwaraj ,Capt Amarinder Singh @capt_amarinder & Navjot Singh Sidhu @sherryontopp to attend the groundbreaking ceremony at #Kartarpura on 28 Nov, 2018.#PakistanKartarpuraSpirit— Shah Mahmood Qureshi (@SMQureshiPTI) November 24, 2018
However, India’s Minister for Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Minister for Housing and Urban Areas Hardeep Singh Puri will come over to Pakistan instead.
Since I am unable to travel to Kartarpur Sahib on the scheduled date, Government of India will be represented by my esteemed colleagues Mrs.Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Mr.H.S.Puri. /2— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) November 24, 2018
Besides Swaraj, Qureshi also invited Indian Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Sidhu to the ceremony. Sidhu has confirmed that he received an invitation from Premier Imran Khan’s office. Talking to an Indian daily, Sidhu said, he will surely attend the event if the Indian government allows him.
We hope that the Government of Pakistan will expedite construction of the corridor in order to ensure that our citizens can pay their respects at the Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib using the corridor as soon as possible. /3— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) November 24, 2018
Gurdwara Darbar Sahib – located in the Kartarpur area of Narowal – is the final resting place of the founder of Sikhism Guru Nanak Devji.
Thank you @ImranKhanPTI Bhai, we welcome the positive step, it means the world to us. You’re a gem! This is a great service to mankind. Kudos to you!— Navjot Singh Sidhu (@sherryontopp) November 22, 2018
ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮ ਚੜਦੀ ਕਲਾ ਤੇਰੇ ਭਾਣੇ ਸਰਬਤ ਦਾ ਭਲਾ| pic.twitter.com/xehaXTfzTm
General Qamar Javed Bajwa told India’s cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu at the inauguration of Prime Minister Imran Khan on August 18 that Pakistan was ready to open the route to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib for Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary.
India had earlier not responded to the offer. But New Delhi on last Wednesday announced that it would start construction of the Kartarpur corridor up to the international border with Pakistan. The announcement was immediately welcomed by Islamabad as ‘victory for peace’.
Mosharraf Zaidi, who remained adviser to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2011 to 2013, said, “Pakistan has doubled down on its resolve to see lasting peace in the region with the move.”
Zaidi said Islamabad has demonstrated its desire for peace even after New Delhi cancelled meeting of the foreign ministers of both countries on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
“Pakistan has always been on front foot to achieve peace in the region and has repeatedly wanted New Delhi to follow suit,” he said.
However, Pakistan’s former ambassador to Yemen Zafar Hilaly said: “When Prime Minister Imran Khan had stated that he would not engage with India until the end of elections in India, then why has he [Qureshi] given this statement.” “When they’re [India] is carrying out terrorist attacks in the country then why are we trying to mend ties with them”.
Defence Analyst Talat Masood told The Express Tribune that, “This is a step in the right direction and shows that we [Pakistan] are a peace loving nation.” Masood added Islamabad realises the need for good relations with neighbours owing to the rise in terrorist attacks.
Modi jealous for not being invited to Imran Khan’s inauguration: Sidhu
He said the government knows that external as well as internal relations are important to the country. He said it all depends on Indian Prime Minister Narendar Modi stance, “if he wants to continue to play hardball or wants to ease off the rhetoric.”
He said a thawing in Pakistan-India tensions would be beneficial for both sides.
Another defence analyst, Gen (rtd) Amjad Shoaib, said it has been Islamabad’s long-term goal to make peace with India. “It is in everyone’s best interests to see peace in the region but despite our many efforts, India has always responded with a clenched fist.”
“The thing is that the Modi government is backed by hardliners spreading anti-Pakistan hysteria. It looks bad for his vote bank you see, to make peace with us,” he said, adding that, “You should expect more of the same from India in the future.”
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