New Delhi: Pakistan is upbeat about India’s ‘positive response’ to its invitation to the ground-breaking ceremony of Kartarpur corridor, said reports on Monday. This, when External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh have decided against attending the ceremony on the other side of the border. (Also read: Centre Approves Kartarpur Sahib Corridor)
According to Pakistani media, however, their foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said that India’s Ministry of External Affairs had “responded well to Pakistan’s initiative to bring the Sikh community closer”.
A report in Pakistan’s The Express Tribune quoted Qureshi as saying, “Pakistan had won the hearts of millions of Sikhs” with its decision on the Kartarpur corridor. He added that the corridor would welcome Sikhs from not just India, but other parts of the world, including the US and the UK.
Swaraj tweeted her inability to attend the ground-breaking ceremony slated for Wednesday. “Since I am unable to travel to Kartarpur Sahib on the scheduled date, Government of India will be represented by my esteemed colleagues Mrs Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Mr H.S. Puri,” she said.
Her Minister of State, General (retired) VK Singh, however, said, “Sushma Swaraj has reasons which must be delinked from it. She is committed because of elections and health issues. To read too much into it is wrong. India is committed to ensuring the Kartarpur corridor comes up fast and would like Pakistan to cooperate.”
While Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh declined the invitation from Pakistan citing terror attacks and killings of Indian soldiers by Pakistan armed forces, his Cabinet colleague Navjot Singh Sidhu accepted it. The cricketer-turned-politician, who had triggered a controversy by attending Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s swearing-in ceremony as well, said that he was awaiting a response from the MEA.
Meanwhile, Sidhu’s colleague Sukhwinder Singh Randhawa came out in his defence on Monday and said, “Harsimrat Kaur Badal had called Navjot Sidhu a ‘qaum ka gaddar’, now she herself is going to Pakistan, with what face will she go? Akali Dal had not taken up Kartarpur Corridor issue even once when they were in power.”