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Our army, govt and politicians are on the same page — we want progress, says PM Imran Khan

PM Imran Khan laid the foundation stone for the Kartarpur corridor

SAMAA | and - Posted: Nov 28, 2018 | Last Updated: 3 years ago
Posted: Nov 28, 2018 | Last Updated: 3 years ago

Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation stone for the Kartarpur corridor Wednesday afternoon. 

Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa has also arrived to attend the ceremony. Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar and Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar are also attending the ceremony.

A documentary was shown to the people at the event. Addressing the event, Religious Affairs Minister Dr Noorul Haq Qadri congratulated everyone on being present on such a historic occasion. He said Pakistan is entering a new phase of peace, adding that Naya Pakistan is safe for all people. He said they will make this into a state-of-the-art gurdwara.

Speaking at the ceremony, Sidhu praised the move in an emotionally charged speech. He said 120 million Sikhs have been waiting for this for 71 years.

My parents used to come to Kartarpur and leave with tears in their eyes, he said, now, thanks to PM Khan, we can also come see Katarpur’s Gurdwara.

Don’t look at these relationships through political lenses, he urged, thanking PM Khan for the step.

Baba Nanak’s philosophy has to do with coming together, not going further apart, he said, adding that what hadn’t been possible for 71 years was achieved in a few months.

Related: Navjot Singh Sidhu weeps with joy at Kartarpur corridor groundbreaking ceremony

Sidhu also thanked the army chief for his role in the Kartarpur corridor project. It takes two to tango, he said, adding that both sides needed to come together to do this.

When Punjab was partitioned, hearts were broken, he said. Today, a key in the form of Imran Khan has come to open the door between the two Punjabs, he lauded.

He urged both India and Pakistan to progress together. With open borders we can trade, he added.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said poor relations between the two countries prevented the country from taking this step before.

Speaking at the event, PM Khan said the happiness he has seen on the Sikh attendees' faces was the same he could imagine seeing on Muslim people's faces if they were four kilometres from the Holy Kaaba and finally allowed to visit it.

Next year, we will provide all the possible facilities for you, he said. He praised Sidhu's knowledge of Sufi poetry. Speaking about cricket and politics, he said players who fear losing never succeed, unlike those who dream of winning.

Related: Kartarpur border opening is history in making, says Fawad Chaudhry

Describing the relationship between India and Pakistan with a poem, he said mistakes have been made on both sides. If you don't progress we will continue with this blame game, he said. The past is to be learnt from not to live in, he said.

PM Khan said that we often take one step forward and two steps back. We don't have the strength and determination to say that whatever happens, we will fix this relationship, he said. He compared the situation to that of France and Germany -- they fought many wars and there was a lot of bloodshed but their leaders decided to move forward.

He said the PTI, PM, political parties, army and institutions are on the same page. We want to move forward and want a civilised relationship with India, he said. We have one issue -- Kashmir, he added. "Man has reached the moon, what can't man solve?" he said. We need to talk about it, there is nothing that can't be solved, he said, adding that we need a big dream and political will.

If we want to eliminate poverty, we need to open our border and start trade, said PM Khan. He said if India takes one step forward, Pakistan will take two steps.

He said he didn't understand the reaction in India about Sidhu's visit to Pakistan. "What was his crime?" he asked. If we can't fight a war, because no one wins an atom war, then the only other way is friendship, he said. The premier said he hoped we don't have to wait till Sidhu is chief minister to have better relations with India.

The 4km-long corridor will connect Dera Baba Nanak in India’s Gurdaspur district with Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan. The corridor will provide Indian Sikh pilgrims visa-free access to the shrine.

As part of the Indian delegation that arrived in Pakistan on Tuesday to attend the ceremony, Navjot Singh Sidhu, former Indian cricket player turned minister, was greeted by Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar at Governor House Lahore. The Indian delegation also comprised Minister for Food Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Minister for Housing Hardeep S Puri.

The delegates will be in Pakistan for five days.

Related: Navjot Sidhu arrives in Pakistan for Kartarpur ceremony

"After 71 years, a dream will soon be a reality. In opening the Kartarpur border, both governments have opened a new chapter in which many things previously impossible will be possible," said Sidhu. He also said that if he is invited for the Pakistan Super League, he will definitely attend.

Pakistani High Commissioner to India Sohail Mahmood said that the corridor being opened is an important occasion as it signals that relations between Pakistan and India are improving.

Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal said said that the initiative of Prime Minister Imran Khan was widely appreciated, including by people in India. He said the corridor will facilitate the Sikh pilgrims to visit their holiest sites in Pakistan.

He also took to Twitter to post pictures of the foreign diplomats attending the ceremony.

He said the construction of the corridor will stand completed before the next birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak in November.

Pakistan is constructing a border terminal, which will have parking, immigration and medical facilities.

Related: Pakistan and India to open Kartarpur corridor to facilitate Sikh pilgrims

Sikh pilgrims will board a bus in India, get a special permit to visit Pakistan at the border terminal and be taken to Gurdwara Sahib via special transportation. After biometric scanning, they will be free to roam the gurdwara. With the construction of the corridor, it will take pilgrims a few minutes to reach the gurdwara.

In the next phase, a hotel and rest houses will be constructed for the pilgrims.

The chief minister of Indian Punjab, Amarinder Singh, had rejected the invitation to attend the ceremony. He said on Tuesday that he had asked Navjot to reconsider visiting Pakistan.

On Monday, Indian Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu laid the foundation stone for the construction of the corridor in India.
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