Imran Khan invites Sidhu for Kartarpur corridor foundation ceremony
Punjab local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu has been invited by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan for the foundation-laying ceremony of Pakistan's side of the Kartarpur corridor. Imran Khan is set to lay the foundation stone for the corridor's development on November 28, just two days after President Ram Nath Kovind holds the groundbreaking ceremony on the Indian side on November 26. Here's more.
Sidhu confirms the development
"I received invitation from Pakistan PM Imran Khan and the Pakistan high commission in India has also contacted me to know my itinerary," Sidhu told media, confirming that he had received the invitation.
Context: India and Pakistan have decided to develop the corridor
The move comes a day India and Pakistan both agreed to develop their respective sides of the Kartarpur corridor connecting Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab's Gurdaspur district to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur in Pakistan. Commenting on the development on the corridor, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had likened it to the fall of the Berlin Wall, expressing his hopes about improvement of Indo-Pakistan ties.
The importance of the corridor for Indian pligrims
For those unaware, the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur is situated inside Pakistan, 3km from the international border, and is the final resting place of Guru Nanak. For years, the Sikh community, led by political leaders and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, has been demanding the development of a corridor to allow Sikh pilgrims to travel to site and back to India within a day.
Sidhu had landed himself in controversy earlier this year
Earlier this year, Sidhu had landed himself in controversy after he was seen hugging Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa during Imran Khan's oath-taking ceremony. After facing flak in India, Sidhu said that Bajwa had told him that Pakistan would open the Kartarpur corridor in 2019. "When someone takes the name of Baba Nanak, then he has offered you everything," Sidhu had said.
Subsequently, Sidhu had met Sushma Swaraj to discuss the issue
On his return from Pakistan, Sidhu had met Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj to urge her to open dialogue with Pakistan over the development of the Kartarpur corridor. Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal had then said that Swaraj had "reprimanded" Sidhu for "messing up" during his visit to Pakistan. Sidhu, however, had denied being rebuked by Swaraj.