Kartarpur Corridor: Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri leave for Pakistan

Pakistan       by Haider Ali | Published

Asserting that opening the Kartarpur Corridor does not mean there will be talks with Islamabad, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj Wednesday said India will not attend the SAARC summit in Pakistan and there will be no dialogue "until and unless" Pakistan stops sponsoring terror.

Relations between India and Pakistan remain strained, but at a ceremony formally starting construction work on the pathway on the Pakistani side of the border, the country's Prime Minister Imran Khan said: "We will only progress when we free ourselves from the chains of the past".

Moreover, denying the Sikh community an opportunity to mark Guru Nanak's 550's birth anniversary when Pakistan is ready to open the corridor would only alienate millions of Sikhs living in India. Khan also threw darts at Narendra Modi and suggested that Navjot Sidhu - the joker in the pack who can not tell a news conference from a stand-up comedy show - would make for a far better prime minister. He said if India takes one step to improve ties, then Pakistan will take two steps.

From the Indian point of view, the corridor addressed a long-standing demand of Sikhs, particularly those in the rural regions of Punjab who have a strong Panthic leaning.

A Sikh pilgrim visits the shrine of their spiritual leader Guru Nanak Dev in Kartarpur, Pakistan, Nov. 28, 2018. They can not get any closer because the border between Pakistan and India blocks their path.

As expected, Pakistan, in a rejoinder, informed India of the decision to open the Kartarpur corridor, with the Pakistani Foreign Ministry saying that it "will not see any forward movement if India does not hold talks with Pakistan".

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"For me it was not a handball", Fellaini told BT Sport afterwards. "We had more than one chance, we had a lot of half chances". Arguably the biggest change is the absence of Alexis Sanchez, who didn't even make the bench.

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.

Harsimrat Kaur, who also spoke on the occasion, said if the Berlin Wall can fall, hatred and mistrust between India and Pakistan can also end. Even if both Pakistan and India are willing to make peace with each other, the global powers involved in the great game in Afghanistan and the sale of billions of dollars worth of weapons to South Asian countries will never let peace prevail.

Khan laid the foundation stone, and the groundbreaking ceremony was attended by Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and other Pakistani officials at Narowal in Kartarpur.

"Unless and until Pakistan stops terrorist activities in India there will be no dialogue and we will not participate in SAARC", said Swaraj in a press conference organised in Hyderabad, India. "People want peace", he said. However, a short-lived thaw happened when Atal Behari Vajpayee, India's three-time Prime Minister, took a bus to Lahore in 1999 and hugged his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, leaving an endearing image that symbolized hope in bilateral ties.

Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who received the most applause, said it was unfair for pilgrims to have been prevented from visiting Kartarpur. The country's elites and the establishment has been feeling the heat as the USA and other western nations seek action against terrorist groups based in Pakistan.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told the BBC the Kartarpur project would help improve the countries' relationship.

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