Pakistan invites former Indian PM to Kartarpur inauguration

Special Pakistan invites former Indian PM to Kartarpur inauguration
A view shows the supplies of marble slabs for flooring at the construction site of the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, which will be open this year for Indian Sikh pilgrims, in Kartarpur, Pakistan on Sept. 16, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 01 October 2019

Pakistan invites former Indian PM to Kartarpur inauguration

Pakistan invites former Indian PM to Kartarpur inauguration
  • FM Qureshi invited Manmohan Singh in a video message
  • Pakistan will open the Kartarpur Corridor for Sikh pilgrims on November 9

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi invited India’s former prime minister Manmohan Singh to attend the opening ceremony of Kartarpur Corridor in a video message on Monday.
“On behalf of the government, as the foreign minister of Pakistan, I am extending the invitation to him to attend the inauguration of the Kartarpur Corridor,” he said while adding that the government would also send a written invitation to Singh.
Pakistan will open the corridor on November 9, 2019 – the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism.
“After consultations,” Qureshi said, “Pakistan has decided to invite Manmohan Singh to the inauguration ceremony as he represents the Sikh community.”
“Kartarpur corridor is an important project,” he continued. “The prime minister [Imran Khan] is taking personal interest in it.”
Islamabad extended the invitation to the former Indian PM only a few days after the two South Asian nuclear-armed neighbors faced each other at the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
Tensions mounted between the two nations after India revoked the limited constitutional autonomy of the disputed Himalayan region. Pakistan reacted with fury to India’s decision, cutting trade and transport ties and expelling New Delhi’s envoy in Islamabad.
Analysts welcomed the government’s decision to invite Manmohan Singh.
“PM Singh was truly keen to bring about an improvement in the India-Pakistan relations. His heart is in the right place,” Salman Bashir, who served as his country’s foreign secretary, told Arab News.
“A person of great wisdom and integrity, Singh originally hails from a village in Pakistan,” he added. “He absolutely deserves to be invited to attend this historic occasion.”
Pakistan’s former high commissioner to India, Abdul Basit, echoed the same sentiment.
“I think it’s a good decision, especially against the backdrop of the fact that Manmohan Singh couldn’t visit Pakistan as prime minister. However, it remains to be seen if he accepts the invitation,” he told Arab News.
“Singh was also invited by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to visit his birthplace in Chakwal, but he was always somewhat reluctant,” Basit recalled. “However, it needs to be stressed that Kartarpur shouldn’t take away our focus from what’s happening in Indian Occupied Kashmir. Our priorities should be clear and drive our diplomacy accordingly. Misplaced expectations engender complacency and that we must not allow to happen.”
Earlier this month, on September 4, Pakistan and India agreed to open the Kartarpur crossing for Sikh pilgrims.
After the talks, Indian delegation said that all facilities on the Indian side would be ready for a pilgrimage through the corridor on Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary.