Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has declined Pakistan’s invitation to attend the ground-breaking event for the Kartarpur corridor on the other side of the border, citing continued terrorist attacks in his state and killings of Indian soldiers by Pakistani armed forces.
Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu will, however, visit Pakistan to attend the Kartarpur border corridor event. “I look forward to meeting you on this historic occasion. My application for permission to attend is now lodged with MEA,” Mr Sidhu responded to the Pakistani Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
In a letter to Mr Qureshi, Captain Amarinder also welcomed the historic occasion, which he described as the cherished desire of the Sikhs around the world, but said he must “most reluctantly regret his inability to be present”.
Captain Amarinder Singh said his reasons for declining the invitation were twofold — not a day passes without Pakistani forces attacking Indian positions in Jammu and Kashmir, and the Pakistani spy agency Inter-Service Intelligence or ISI is trying to create trouble in Punjab.
“The last attack was in Amritsar last Sunday, on a peaceful religious congregation in one of our villages, in which three men were killed and 19, including women and children, were wounded,” Captain Amarinder said.
“I hope the Prime Minister (Imran Khan) will understand that under these circumstances it will not be possible for me to be present in Pakistan on this historic occasion, despite the fact that paying my respects at Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib has always been my cherished dream which will hopefully be fulfilled once these hostilities and killings are stopped,” Captain Amarinder said.
The proposed corridor will link Gurdwara Sahib Kartarpur in Pakistan with Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab. “As you will see from the stone laid at Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib, it was my grandfather Maharaja Bhupindra Singh who carried out flood protection measures from 1920 to 1929 to protect our gurdwara which was being ravaged by floods in the river Ravi each year,” he said.
Though Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj will not visit Pakistan, two of her cabinet colleagues will attend it. India will send union ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri, her office said on Saturday while responding to an invite to her by Islamabad for the event.
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