Navjot Singh Sidhu gets political clearance to visit Kartarpur Sahib
On Thursday, Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu was granted permission by the Ministry of External Affairs to travel through the Kartarpur Corridor, sources said. Apparently, this was the third time that Sidhu had sought the MEA's permission to attend the Kartarpur Corridor inauguration, following an invitation by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. However, he claimed to have not received a response from the MEA.
Pakistan granted Sidhu visa; awaited Centre's political clearance
Earlier on Thursday, Sidhu wrote to the External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar asking "if he didn't get a response to his third letter seeking permission to visit Pakistan, then he will proceed as a devotee on an eligible visa." Notably, Pakistani authorities had granted Sidhu a visa, however, as an elected representative of the legislature, he needed political clearance.
MEA spokesperson refused to comment on matter earlier today
Meanwhile, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had earlier dismissed the matter at a press conference saying, "He can do whatever he wants. I've said that this is a big occasion, and we cannot focus on an individual traveler's plans for Kartarpur. I wouldn't like to comment on that in this forum." Sidhu had urged the Centre for a response as it affected his travel plans.
Won't go if government says no: Sidhu wrote in letter
In the Thursday letter, his third, Sidhu wrote, "Despite repeated reminders, you haven't responded to whether or not the government has granted me permission to go to Pakistan for the inauguration of Gurdwara Sahib." He added, "I categorically state that if the government has any inhibitions and says no, then, as a law-abiding citizen, I will not go."
But if there's no response, he would proceed to Pakistan
With a sense of urgency, Sidhu further said in the letter, "But if you don't respond to my third letter, then I will proceed to Pakistan as millions of Sikh devotees go on an eligible visa."
Kartarpur Corridor to be inaugurated on November 9
To recall, the Kartarpur Corridor, linking the Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan, with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur, India, will be inaugurated on Saturday. On the Indian side of the border, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Corridor, while on Pakistan's side, the inauguration will be conducted by his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan. The inauguration comes three days ahead of Guru Nanak Dev's 550th birth anniversary.
Pakistani PM had invited Sidhu to attend inauguration
It should be noted that Khan, who was Sidhu's contemporary on the cricket field in the 1980s, invited the Congress leader to the inauguration ceremony. However, after the Centre mandated all guests to attain a political clearance first, Sidhu's plans visit hung in the balance.
Sidhu sparked controversy after hugging Pakistani Army chief last year
Sidhu had courted controversy in August last year after he was seen hugging Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa at the swearing-in ceremony of Imran Khan. He also sat next to Masood Khan, the President of Pak-occupied-Kashmir, during the ceremony. Sidhu, who was slapped with a sedition case for the hug, had then said that Bajwa had promised to open the Kartarpur Corridor.