Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, unfazed by criticism of his recent trip to Islamabad for Imran Khan's oath ceremony, reiterated today that he had "no words to thank" the cricket veteran-turned-prime minister for opening the corridor of Kartarpur Sahib on Guru Nanak's birth anniversary in November.
"They (Pakistan) are ready to open the corridor of Kartarpur Sahib on the 550 birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Ji. There can be no bigger happiness than this for the people of Punjab," said the cricketer-turned-minister.
Mr Sidhu, who faced political attacks back home for embracing the Pakistani army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa during the oath ceremony, also urged the central government to reciprocate after Pakistan agreed to open up a corridor to Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, a historic Sikh pilgrimage 120 km from Lahore.
Guru Nanak, the first of the ten Sikh Gurus, is said to have settled there after his travels.
"I plead to the Prime Minister and the External Affairs Ministry that if they have made an effort, you should also make an effort," he said, adding that this "is not the time for religion-based politics".
"This is the message from Pakistan to the whole world. Don't think that anyone can oppose this noble gesture," Mr Sidhu asserted.
Imran Khan, whose campaign for the Pakistan election was seen to be full of anti-India rhetoric, said soon after the results that he wanted to fix ties with India. "If you take one step forward, we will take two," he had said.
Mr Sidhu was targeted by the BJP and even within his Congress party - including Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh - for attending Imran Khan's oath ceremony, where he was seated on the front row next to a Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) leader.
Mr Sidhu had asserted that his visit was "not about politics" but about the invitation of old fellow cricketer friend.
Following the controversy, Imran Khan posted tweets describing Mr Sidhu as an "ambassador or peace".
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