Citing terror attacks in Punjab, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Sunday declined Pakistan’s invite for the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the historic Kartarpur corridor.
Replying to Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s invite, Singh referred to the latest terror attack in Amritsar and said, “I hope 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.”
The chief minister said his reason for declining the invitation was twofold. “Firstly, not a day passes when Indian soldiers are not killed or wounded on the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir. Rather than moving towards normalcy, these incidents are escalating,” he said.
However, state minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who was also invited by Qureshi, expressed his desire to attend and said, “I look forward to meeting you on this historic occasion. My application for permission to attend is now lodged with the MEA.”
On Saturday, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, in a tweet, said he had extended an invitation to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh and state minister Navjot Singh Sidhu to attend the ceremony at Kartarpur on November 28.
In a letter to Qureshi, Swaraj thanked him for the invite but said it would not be possible for her to travel to Kartarpur Sahib due to prior commitments.
India will instead send Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri to Pakistan next week to attend the groundbreaking ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor for the event.
On Thursday, both countries announced that they would develop Kartarpur corridor in their respective areas, linking Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district with the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan.
Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, the final resting place of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev, is located across the Ravi river in Pakistan and is about four kilometres from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district of Punjab in India. The corridor, once built, will give Indian pilgrims easy access to the shrine.