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At Kartarpur Ceremony, Imran Khan Talks of Peace, Kashmir But Not Terrorism, Gets Rejoinder From India
There have been "mistakes on both sides" and the two sides should not live in the past, Imran Khan said.
New Delhi: In what India termed politicisation of “pious occasion” of foundation stone-laying for Kartarpur Sahib corridor, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday pitched for “strong and civilised” relationship with India but asserted that they have “one issue, which is Kashmir”.
- Sushma Swaraj made it clear that the Kartarpur corridor initiative was not linked to the dialogue process with Pakistan.
- Khan wondered why there was a hue and cry back home over Sidhu's push for peace and brotherhood.
- Heaping praises on Pakistan PM, Navjot Singh Sidhu thanked Imran Khan for ending the 70-year old wait.
However, Khan didn’t mention terrorism in his address at the event, attended by Indian Union ministers — Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri — Punjab state minister Navjot Singh Sindhu among others. India has always maintained that cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan is a “core concern” for it.
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While citing example of France and Germany who fought several wars and are now living in peace with each other, Khan said his government, the army and all political parties were for “strong and civilised” ties with India.
“I am telling you, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the ruling party, other political parties and armed forces are on one page…We want to move ahead. We want a civilised relationship with India,” Khan said.
There have been “mistakes on both sides” and the two sides should not live in the past, he said.
“We have one issue, which is Kashmir. Humans have reached the Moon. Which issue can’t be solved? Cannot we solve one issue? We only need determined leadership on both sides. There is no issue which cannot be resolved,” he said and reiterated that if India moves one step forward, Pakistan will take two steps forward.
The much-awaited corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur – the final resting place of Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak Dev – with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Gurdaspur district and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, which was established in 1522 by Guru Nanak Dev.
India’s Sharp Reaction
Reacting sharply to India’s Khan’s remarks, the External Affairs Ministry in a statement in New Delhi said, “It is deeply regrettable that the Prime Minister of Pakistan chose to politicise the pious occasion meant to realise the long pending demand of the Sikh community to develop a Kartarpur corridor by making unwarranted reference to Jammu and Kashmir which is an integral and inalienable part of India.”
Pakistan must fulfil its international obligations and take effective and credible action to stop providing shelter and all kinds of support to cross border terrorism from territories under its control, MEA asserted.
Khan said India and Pakistan need more steps like this (Kartarpur corridor) for peace in the South Asian region.
However, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at a press conference in Hyderabad made it clear that the Kartarpur corridor initiative was not linked to the dialogue process with Pakistan.
There will be no dialogue with Pakistan unless it desists from terrorist activities against India, she said, in a rebuff to Pakistan, which had Tuesday said it would invite Modi to the SAARC summit.
Imran Khan Defends ‘Friend’ Sidhu, Says he Can Win Election in Pak
Navjot Singh Sidhu can win an election even in Pakistan, Imran Khan said as he wondered why there was a hue and cry back home over the former Indian cricketer’s push for peace and brotherhood during his previous visit to the country.
“I heard there was a lot of criticism of Sidhu when he went back after my oath-taking ceremony. I don’t know why was he criticised. He was just talking about peace between two countries which are nuclear armed,” Khan said.
“It is foolish for anyone to think there can be war between two nuclear-armed countries as there is no winning for anyone. So, if there can be no war then what other way is there other than friendship?” he added.
Khan said the citizens of both countries want peace and it is just the leadership which needs to be on the same page.
“I am hoping that we don’t have to wait until Sidhu becomes prime minister for there to be peace between India and Pakistan,” he said.
Khan jokingly said that Sidhu has such a large fan following in Pakistan, especially in the country’s Punjab province, that if he ran in elections here, he would win.
“He can come and contest election here in Pakistan’s Punjab, he’ll win,” the cricketer-turned-politician said about Sidhu.
The corridor made headlines in August after the Punjab cabinet minister and Congress leader visited Pakistan to attend Prime Minister Khan’s swearing-in ceremony.
Sidhu was later criticised for hugging Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
‘Mera Yaar, Dildaar’ Imran Khan: Sidhu Praises Pak PM
Heaping praises on Pakistan Prime Minister, Navjot Singh Sidhu thanked Imran Khan for ending the 70-year old wait and said that whenever the history will be written about the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor, the latter’s name will be written on the first page.
Sidhu congratulated his ‘friend’ Khan for the initiative and hoped that their will be love and peace between both the nations.
He said there had been enough bad blood and that the corridor would be a major opportunity to open the doors of the hearts of the people.
“This is my hope, this is my dream … While there is blood in my veins, I will continue to thank both governments,” he said.
“My father used to tell me that Punjab Mail went till Lahore, I believe that it can go further till Peshawar, till Afghanistan,” he said.
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