‘More hugs from Sidhu could solve many problems’: Pakistan minister at Kartarpur corridor launch

[dropcap]P[/dropcap]rime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday laid the foundation stone for Kartarpur corridor, which will facilitate the visa-free travel of Indian Sikh pilgrims to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur district.

Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu was India’s face on the ground Tuesday and called Kartarpur a “corridor of infinite possibilities

At the groundbreaking ceremony of Kartarpur corridor, a Pakistan minister said that if the country gets more hugs from Sidhu, many problems will be solved.

“I would like to mention Navjot Sindhu’s hug to Pakistan army chief. If we get more hugs from Sidhu, many of our problems will be solved,” he said.

Sidhu had hugged the Pakistani army chief Bajwa during the oath-taking ceremony of Imran Khan as Pakistani PM, which has created quite a stir back home.

Pakistan had also invited Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh for the event. But, he declined to attend the event, citing continued terrorist attacks in his state and killings of Indian soldiers by Pakistan’s armed forces.

Vice-president M Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh had on Monday laid the foundation stone of a road, from Dera Baba Nanak town in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district, which will connect the Kartarpur Corridor.

India had proposed the corridor to Pakistan around 20 years back. The issue recently came into focus after Sidhu visited Pakistan in August to attend the oath-taking ceremony of Imran Khan as the prime minister.

Last week, Pakistan and India announced that they would develop the corridor on their respective side of the border to help Indian pilgrims visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur.

‘Dialogue not only connected to Kartarpur’

The ceremony was held in Pakistan today amid discord between the two nations over the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) summit. Announcing that India will not participate in the meet which will be held in Pakistan, foreign minister Sushma Swaraj said Islamabad has to do more for dialogues to begin.

The dialogue is not connected with only Kartarpur corridor… The moment Pakistan stops terrorist activities in India, the dialogue can start,” she said.

Swaraj, responding to questions, emphasised that though ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri were attending the Kartarpur event in Lahore, it should not be seen in the context of dialogue that has been suspended between the countries since 2013.

“See, bilateral dialogues and Kartarpur corridor are two different things. And I am very happy that for the last 20 years, rather many years, India has been asking for the Kartarpur corridor and for the first time, Pakistan responded positively to this. But it doesn’t mean that the bilateral dialogue will start only on this. The bilateral talks always say that terror and talks can’t go together. The moment Pakistan stops terrorist activities in India, the dialogue can start. But the dialogue is not only connected with Kartarpur corridor,” Swaraj said.