Kartarpur corridor will erase ‘enmity’ between India and Pakistan: Sidhu

Punjab Minister in Lahore for ground-breaking ceremony

Updated - November 28, 2018 01:34 am IST

Published - November 27, 2018 05:50 pm IST - Lahore

Navjot Singh Sidhu

Navjot Singh Sidhu

The Kartarpur corridor will be a “corridor of peace” with “infinite possibilities,” Punjab Minister and Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu said as he arrived here for the ground-breaking ceremony of the 4 km corridor in Pakistan that will be conducted by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday.

Union Ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Puri are also expected to attend the ceremony in Kartarpur, approximately 130 km from here, as special envoys of the Narendra Modi government after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said she was unable to travel.

“If the two Punjabs can be connected better, we can see trains running from one to the other, all the way to Central Asia,” Mr. Sidhu said at a reception in Lahore Fort on Tuesday.

His statement came amid news reports that claimed Pakistan would invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi next, to attend the SAARC summit, which India has thus far refused to do. Officials didn’t confirm the reports, but speaking in an exclusive interview to The Hindu , Pakistan’s Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said, “SAARC needs to be made useful and unless Pakistan and India normalise their bilateral relationship, SAARC will not be an effective organisation.”

Mr. Hussain said India and Pakistan have tried out both wars and no dialogue for long periods. “It is now time to try sustained dialogue,” he added.

Shortly after crossing over the India-Pakistan border at Attari-Wagah by foot on Tuesday, Mr. Sidhu credited Mr. Khan for the corridor. It was a long-standing demand from India which was revived when Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Jawed Bajwa spoke to Mr. Sidhu in August about the new government’s plans to complete the corridor in time for the 550th birth anniversary of Sikh founder Guru Nanak in November 2019.

“The seed that Imran Khan sowed three months ago has become a tree now and me and 120 million Sikhs could not be happier,” Mr. Sidhu told journalists.

“The Kartarpur corridor will prove to be a path of peace and instead of 60 years of enmity, happiness can come in six months through it. This corridor will be the reason that borders between both the countries open,” Mr. Sidhu said.

His words came in sharp contrast to his Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who had on Monday attacked General Bajwa, accusing the Pakistan Army of fomenting terrorism in Punjab. Capt. Singh declined the invitation to travel to Pakistan “until violence ends” indicating his displeasure at Mr. Sidhu’s decision to do so.

“Religion should not be seen through the eyes of politics,” Mr. Sidhu said. He didn’t attend the ceremony on the Indian side, allegedly after he was denied a seat on the stage. “I forgive those who criticised me,” he added.

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