Sushma to Skip Pak Kartarpur Ceremony, Cites ‘Prior Commitments’
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Saturday, 24 November, responded to Pakistan’s invitation to attend the groundbreaking ceremony at Kartarpur on 28 November, saying she would not be able to do so due to “prior commitments, including election campaign”.
In her letter addressed to Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Swaraj, however, said that union ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri would be attending the event on 28 November as Government of India’s representatives.
Due to my prior commitments, including election campaign scheduled in the State of Telangana on that day, I would not be able to travel to Kartarpur Sahib.Sushma Swaraj, in a letter to the Pakistan Foreign Minister
Earlier on Saturday, Pakistan had extended an invitation to Sushma Swaraj, Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh and Navjot Singh Sidhu to attend the groundbreaking ceremony at Kartarpur on 28 November.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had announced the decision to invite the three on Twitter.
“We will only comment once we have received a formal invitation said Punjab chief minister’s media adviser Raveen Thukral, refusing to speculate if the CM, Amarinder Singh, would visit Pakistan .
As to where Sidhu has been invited, he said, speaking to The Times of India:
“I have got permission from Captain Amarinder Singh to visit Pakistan for the November 28 event. I have applied for the Centre’s Permission.”
On Friday, 22 November, Pakistan's Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had said that Punjab Cabinet Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu would visit the country to attend the groundbreaking ceremony of the Kartarpur Border corridor, according to a media report.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will inaugurate the groundbreaking ceremony of the facilities at the crossing on the Pakistan side on 28 November.
Chaudhry had confirmed that the former Indian cricketer would visit the country. This will be Sidhu's second visit to Pakistan in 2018.
Sidhu had told Roznama Express that he has gladly accepted the invitation, sent by Khan for the 28 November event. He said the Pakistani premier was his friend and he will visit the country whenever he is invited by him.
I don’t have words to express my joy.Navjot Singh Sidhu
A long-pending demand of the Sikh community to build a religious corridor linking India's border district of Gurdaspur with a historic gurudwara in Pakistan may finally be fulfilled with both the countries announcing that stretches would be developed in their respective areas.
In a significant decision, India's Cabinet, on 22 November, had cleared a proposal to develop a corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab's Gurdaspur district to the International Border to facilitate Indian pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur in Pakistan.
The issue of Kartarpur Sahib came into focus after Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu visited Pakistan in August to attend the oath-taking ceremony of Khan as prime minister of that country.
After his return, Sidhu said that Pakistan Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa had told him that Pakistan may open a corridor to Kartarpur Sahib.
(With inputs from PTI)