NEW DELHI: After Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj excused herself from attending the groundbreaking ceremony of the Kartarpur Border, without giving any specific reason, Indian Punjab’s Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has also declined Pakistan’s invite for Kartarpur corridor ground breaking ceremony, media reported on Sunday.
In a letter to Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the Chief Minister has welcomed the historic occasion, which he described as the cherished desire of the Sikhs around the world, but said he must most reluctantly, however, regret his inability to be present.
The Chief Minister said his reasons for declining the invitation were twofold. Firstly, “Not a day passes when Indian soldiers are not killed or wounded on the line of control in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said, adding that, “Rather than moving towards normalcy these incidents are escalating.” Secondly, he accused Pakistan’s intelligence agency of starting its activities within Punjab.
“I hope the Prime Minister will understand that under these circumstances it will not be possible for me to be present in Pakistan on this historic occasion, despite the fact that paying my respects at Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib has always been my cherished dream which will hopefully be fulfilled once these hostilities and killings are stopped,” the TV Channel quoted the Chief Minister as having said.
While thanking Qureshi for the invitation for the ceremony to lay the foundation stone of the proposed corridor linking Gurdwara Sahib Kartarpur to Dera Baba Nanak in Indian Punjab, where Sri Guru Nanak Devji spent the last 18 years of his life, the Chief Minister recalled his visit to Pakistan, when he had paid his respects at Gurdwara Sri Nankana Sahib and Gurdwara Sri Panja Sahib where his father Maharaja Yadvindra Singh had reconstructed Gurdwara Sri Panja Sahib in 1932.
“As you will see from the stone laid at Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib, it was my grandfather Maharaja Bhupindra Singh who carried out flood protection measures from 1920 to 1929 to protect our Gurdwara which was being ravaged by floods in the river Ravi each year,” he further wrote.
“A visit to Sri Kartarpur Sahib has been a long-cherished dream, and I hope once normalcy between our two countries is restored I will be able to do so, when the corridor is complete,” the CM said, recalling his own meeting with Qureshi during his Pakistan visit.
In conclusion, Singh expressed the hope that the Pakistani prime ministers “will do all he can to bring our two countries together on the road to peace and friendship.”
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had invited India’s Sushma Swaraj, Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, and former cricketer and Punjab cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu to attend the groundbreaking of the Kartarpur border corridor.
Indian Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj also excused from attending the ceremony in a Twitter, but said government of Indian send its representatives to the event.
“I thank HE Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Foreign Minister of Pakistan, for inviting me to attend the groundbreaking ceremony of Kartarpur Sahib Corridor on the Pakistan side of the international boundary on 28 November 2018,” Sushma said on Twitter
“We welcome this proposal and we are sending two ministers to represent Government of India,” Sushma Swaraj wrote in another tweet about Pakistan’s decision to open the border.
“Since I am unable to travel to Kartarpur Sahib on the scheduled date, Government of India will be represented by my esteemed colleagues Union Cabinet Minister of Food Processing Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Minister of State for Housing & Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri,” she tweeted.
“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,” she said. NNI