Islamabad: In a surprise move, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday invited former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to travel across the border for the Kartarpur corridor inauguration in November this year.
Qureshi extended the invitation to Dr Manmohan Singh in a video message that he said, would be followed up with a formal invitation from the Pakistan Government.
“Dr Singh is widely respected in India and hails from the Sikh community,” he said in the video that also made a reference to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s deep interest in the Kartarpur project.
The Kartarpur corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district of Punjab and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims, who will have to obtain a permit to make the pilgrimage.
The corridor will be opened in November ahead of Guru Nank Dev’s 550th birth anniversary. Kartarpur Sahib was established in 1522 by Sikh faith founder Guru Nanak Dev.
It is not clear if Dr Singh will accept the invite.
Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, who had last year described Pakistan’s push to the corridor as a big conspiracy hatched by the Pakistan army, had toned down his criticism of Islamabad’s move in view of the public and religious sentiments around the corridor. He is expected to travel to Pakistan for the Guru Nank Dev’s 550th birth anniversary celebrations.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on the other hand, will stay on the Indian side of the border. He will inaugurate the integrated check post (ICP) in Kartarpur Sahib on November 9 and and flag off the first Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC)-led group of pilgrims from India to Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of the guru, which is now in Pakistan.