External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday welcomed Pakistan’s decision to construct the Kartarpur corridor even as she made clear that this will not be enough for bilateral talks between the two countries.
Swaraj, who declined Islamabad’s invite to witness the ground-breaking ceremony for the corridor and deputed two ministers to represent India at the event reiterated Army Chief General Bipin Rawat’s statement that “terror and talks cannot go hand-in-hand”.
“For many years the Indian Government had been asking for Kartarpur corridor, only now Pakistan responded positively. It doesn’t mean the bilateral dialogue will start because of this, terror and talks can’t go together,” Swaraj said.
Swaraj had earlier declined the invite stating that she was unable to travel to Kartarpur Sahib due to prior commitments, including an election campaign in Telangana, and that India will be represented at the ceremony by Union Ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri.
Swaraj also hoped that the government of Pakistan will expedite the 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.”
India had earlier called off a meeting between Swaraj and Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York in September, citing the “brutal” killing of three policemen in Jammu and Kashmir and the release of the postal stamps “glorifying” Kashmiri militant Burhan Wani.
Union Ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Puri on Wednesday crossed over to Pakistan through the Attari-Wagah joint check post between India and her neighbour for the Kartarpur Corridor ceremony, and termed it a “historic step”.
Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu is already in Pakistan to attend the event.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will lay the foundation stone at the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of the Kartarpur corridor on Wednesday.
On November 22, just a day before the 549th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the Union Cabinet decided to build and develop a corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district to the international border for Sikh pilgrims to visit Pakistan.