Pak to invite, but Manmohan Singh unlikely to attend Kartarpur ceremony
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday (September 30) said that Pakistan has decided to invite former prime minister Manmohan Singh to attend the inaugural ceremony of the Kartarpur Corridor in November, but sources said he is unlikely to attend the ceremony.
Pakistan is scheduled to open the Kartarpur corridor for Indian Sikh pilgrims on November 9, days ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of first Sikh guru Baba Nanak on November 12.
“The Kartarpur corridor inauguration is a big programme and Pakistan is preparing for it in a big way. We have decided to invite India’s former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to grace the event… We will send a formal letter to him soon,” Qureshi said told Capital TV.
He said Singh represents the Sikh community. “We are also very happy to receive the Sikh pilgrims who are coming to Kartarpur to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak,” Qureshi said.
However, the former prime minister’s office said it has no information about the invite so far and sources indicated he is unlikely to attend.
While the Congress remained tight-lipped about the issue, sources said he is unlikely to go as he had not visited Pakistan even during his tenure as prime minister for 10 years.
The corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district of Punjab and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims, who will only have to obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib.
The move comes amidst a political standoff between India and Pakistan over Kashmir issue following the Indian government’s decision to abrogate the special status provisions to Jammu and Kashmir.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has repeatedly attempted to draw world leaders’ attention to the Kashmir issue and also warned of the consequences of a war between the two nuclear-capable nations.
Khan, while addressing the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), brought up the Kashmir issue, but India rebutted, saying Indian citizens do not need anyone else to speak on their behalf and “least of all those who have built an industry of terrorism from the ideology of hate.”
(With inputs from agencies)