Putting the Congress in a difficult situation once again, Pakistan on Monday extended an invitation to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the inauguration function of Kartarpur corridor on November 9.
Qureshi said the Imran Khan-led government has decided to hold the inauguration ceremony in a big way. “We are making big preparations for it,” he said.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said since Manmohan Singh also represented the Sikh community, Islamabad will send him a formal invitation for the ceremony.
“We have decided to invite former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He is held in high esteem and represents the Sikh community.
“On behalf of the Pakistan government, I extend our invite to him. We shall invite him in writing too,” Qureshi said.
“We want all the Sikh pilgrims to visit Kartarpur and participate in the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev,” he added.
Meanwhile, Manmohan Singh or the Congress is yet to respond to the invite.
Despite tensions between the two neighbours, Pakistan had assured that it stands ready to open the Kartarpur corridor and welcome the Sikh pilgrims to take part in celebrations in connection with the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak.
After New Delhi revoked Article 370 of the Constitution which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories on August 5, tensions have been on the rise between the countries. India made it clear to Pakistan that its constitutional move in Jammu and Kashmir is an “internal and sovereign matter”, and Islamabad should “accept the reality.” Pakistan had decided to downgrade diplomatic relations with India over the Kashmir move by expelling Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria and suspending trade with India.
The Kartarpur corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district in Punjab 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.
Pakistan is building the corridor from the Indian border to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib while the other part from Dera Baba Nanak up to the border will be constructed by India.
Despite escalating tensions over Kashmir, Indian and Pakistani officials have met to discuss the Kartarpur corridor project.
Earlier, Pakistan in its dossier on Kashmir at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva had reportedly cited quotes by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and National Conference’s Omar Abdullah on the situation in the Valley.
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was quick to comment on the purported document and lashed out at the Congress leader saying that his statements help Pakistan more than India.
Pakistan had earlier too “dragged” the Congress leader’s name in its petition to the United Nations on Kashmir issue.
Thereafter, the Congress slammed Pakistan for “mischievously dragging the name of Rahul Gandhi” in its petition at the UN.
The Congress party had further made it clear that Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh were, are and shall always remain an integral part of India.