Kartarpur Corridor: The passage aims to connect Gurdwara Darbar Sahib and Dera Baba Nanak.
Kartarpur/New Delhi: The groundbreaking ceremony for the corridor to Kartarpur Sahib, one of the holiest shrines of Sikhs, was held in Pakistan today amid discord over the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) summit. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said his whole country is "on the same page" about a "civilized relationship with India... the only issue between us is Kashmir". Earlier today, foreign minister Sushma Swaraj said India won't participate in SAARC meet and Islamabad has to do more for dialogues to begin. "The dialogue is not connected with only the Kartarpur corridor... The moment Pakistan stops terrorist activities in India, the dialogue can start," she said.
Here are the top 10 updates on the Kartarpur corridor event in Pakistan:
- "Whenever I travelled to India, people would tell me that the Pakistan army is not interested in peace... I am telling you that I, the PM, our party, other political parties, our army -- we are all on the same page in wanting to establish a civilised relationship with India," Imran Khan said.
- New Delhi objected to his reference to Kashmir. In a statement, the foreign ministry 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 yesterday said they will invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the SAARC summit. The 2016 summit, scheduled to be held in Pakistan, got cancelled after India refused to attend, citing concerns over continued cross-border terrorism. Later, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan also dropped out.
- Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, who skipped the groundbreaking ceremony citing election-related work, today said: "I already visited Pakistan, and it was me only who started the comprehensive bilateral dialogue. But what happened after that? Pathankot. What happened after that? Uri. So we have to take the big picture."
- Union Ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri represented India at the event. The third dignitary was Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, whose decision to accept the invite created a political controversy. Mr Sidhu's boss, Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh, has declined Pakistan's invitation citing ISI-sponsored terror attacks in Pathankot and Amritsar.
- Amarinder Singh said he asked Navjot Sidhu to reconsider his decision to visit Pakistan. "Sidhu told me he had already committed himself to going. When I informed him of the stand I had taken on the issue, he said it was his personal visit but he would get back to me. But I did not hear from him," Mr Singh said.
- Mr Sidhu, who was the Pakistan politician's contemporary in cricket two decades ago, had earlier said in his speech: "Mera yaar, dildaar, Imran Khan jive (may my friend Imran Khan thrive, live). He is a good friend who has delivered on his promise to establish the Kartarpur corridor."
- Earlier this week, Amarinder Singh also ripped into Pakistan army chief Qamar Bajwa, questioning his army credentials. "Which army teaches to violate ceasefire and kill jawans on the other side? Which army teaches to send people to attack Pathankot and Amritsar? This is cowardice," Mr Singh, a former officer of the Indian Army, said.
- Mr Sidhu, who was caught in controversy after hugging General Bajwa during his last visit to Pakistan in August for the oath ceremony of Imran Khan, bragged that it had some positive outcome in the form of a green signal for the Kartarpur Sahib corridor.
- The Kartarpur corridor will link Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, the final resting place of Guru Nanak Dev in Pakistan, to Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur. Groundbreaking on the Indian side was done two days ago. The corridor, which will allow Indian Sikh pilgrims to travel to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur without a visa, is expected to be completed within six months.
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