indica Washington Bureau
Stressing that talks and terror cannot go together, India’s Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh has asserted that the Mumbai terror attacks of November 26, 2011 and the proposed Kartarpur Sahib corridor must not be linked.
In a significant development, India has responded positively to Pakistan’s invitation to the ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of a corridor leading up to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, which falls on the Pakistan’s side.
“Let’s not initially raise doubts (on Pakistan over the corridor). And if they don’t do, the whole world will see. Let’s delink 26/11 and Kartarpur Sahib,” the minister said during a felicitation ceremony at a Baltimore Gurdwara in Maryland.
“Today people have to go to Dera Baba Nanak, stand on the border and look at Kartarpur Sahib. If the devotees can go up to Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara after the construction of the corridor, nothing is better than that.
“This is a religious issue. It has nothing to do with that (The Indian government’s policy that talks and terror cannot go together),” he added.
Responding to the invite from Pakistan for the November 28 ceremony, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said this week that Minister for Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Puri will represent the Narendra Modi government.
According to Singh, “We are willing to talk and this we laid down in 2014. We are willing to talk on any issue whatsoever provided you create an environment for talks”.
“India is making all possible diplomatic efforts, talking to all friends and even to China with regard to the UN Security Council designation of Azhar Masood, the 26/11 mastermind,” the minister added.
Sikhs in the US have hailed India’s decision to build the religious corridor linking border district of Gurdaspur with historic Kartarpur Sahib gurudwara in Pakistan — fulfilling a long-pending demand of the community.
The proposal for a corridor to Kartarpur Sahib, the place where Guru Nanak died in 1539 has been a demand from India for two decades.
Sikh pilgrims will now be able to visit the iconic Gurudwara Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur on the banks of the river Ravi.
Earlier in November, Pakistan issued over 3,800 visas to Sikh pilgrims for the ongoing celebrations of the 549th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.
India and Pakistan share a bilateral Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines that was signed in 1974.