Kartarpur corridor: Sushma Swaraj won't visit Pakistan, names two ministers
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has declined Pakistan's invitation for the groundbreaking ceremony at Kartarpur on November 28, citing prior commitments, but has named two ministers instead. Her cabinet colleagues Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri will attend the event, which will also see the presence of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had invited her on Twitter.
People in the know said Swaraj would be occupied with the election campaign in Telangana, during that time, hence the decision. Responding to Qureshi's invitation, Swaraj said, "We hope that the Government of Pakistan will expedite construction of the corridor in order to ensure that our citizens can pay their respects at the Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib using the corridor as soon as possible."
I thank HE Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi Foreign Minister of Pakistan for inviting me to attend the groundbreaking ceremony of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor on the Pakistan side of the International boundary on 28 November 2018. /1— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) November 24, 2018
The gurudwara, in Pakistan, was built on the site where the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev, breathed his last on September 22, 1539. It is believed Guru Nanak Dev spent last 18 years of his life there and assembled Sikh community. The corridor development from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district to the International border will help Indian pilgrims visit the gurudwara.
The corridor caught attention after Congress minister Navjot Singh Sidhu attended the swearing-in ceremony of Imran Khan. He spoke about the corridor's facilitation, and on Thursday, Pakistan said it would take steps to ease the visit of Indian pilgrims. Soon, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said even the Berlin Wall fell and it is likely that the corridor will bring people together.
The amicable exchange of words over the corridor comes days after Swaraj slammed Islamabad for troubling Indian diplomats and not allowing them easy access to gurdwaras Nankana Sahib and Sacha Sauda Sahib in Pakistan. The MEA alleged Pakistan was promoting 'secessionist tendencies'. Later, Pakistan said on Friday opening the Kartarpur border was a step in the right direction and could turn 'enmity to friendship'.
Thanks for prompt correction Nidhi. https://t.co/LMVZfVkuz6— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) November 24, 2018
While former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh welcomed Pakistan's decision to facilitate the corridor, he cautioned that there were many hurdles in the way before peace is achieved. "There are many hurdles and one should not underestimate those hurdles. But any beginning is a good beginning, I hope it is successful," he told reporters on the sidelines of an event organized by Pranab Mukherjee.