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Mehbooba sees ‘new beginning’ in Kartarpur corridor

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Welcomes Pak PM's offer on opening Hindu temples to Indian pilgrims

Srinagar, Nov 29: Former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Thursday said the Kartarpur corridor could be a “new beginning” of reconciliation between India and Pakistan and called for facilitation of bilateral trade and people-to-people contact to make borders “irrelevant”.

The planned corridor will connect Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak Dev’s final resting place in Pakistan’s Kartarpur to the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district in India, fulfilling a long-pending demand of the Sikh community.

“Kartarpur can be a new beginning of reconciliation between the two neighbours. We cannot change our borders but let us make them irrelevant by facilitating trade & encouraging people to people contact. This will usher in peace & progress for both India & Pakistan,” Mufti said in a tweet.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the corridor was held in Kartarpur on Wednesday. The foundation stone for the initiative was laid in Gurdaspur on Monday by Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

Mufti criticised media reports claiming that the initiative could facilitate the Khalistan agenda — the demand for a separate Sikh homeland — in India.

“It is quite amusing how some TV channels are trying to distort a gesture like Kartarpur into some kind of conspiracy to create Khalistan. One fails to understand why allowing people pilgrimage to Guru Nanak Dev-ji’s birth place would assume such undertones,” she said.

Mehbooba Mufti also welcomed Imran Khan’s offer on opening several shrines, including Sharada Peeth, to devotees from India, saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi should consider the offer.

“Great initiative of offering peace through these channels. PM @narendramodi ji should consider the offer by PakPM (Pakistan Prime Minister) @ImranKhanPTI for opening of SharadaPeeth in Kashmir, Katasraj & other shrines too this will certainly bridge the gap & usher peace in region,” Mehbooba said in a tweet.

Her tweet came in response to Khan’s interaction with Indian journalists, in which he reportedly said, “We can consider other proposals including opening up travel for the Sharada Peeth in Kashmir, Katasraj and other Hindu shrines too.”

Meanwhile in a statement here, Mehbooba said that her party is sure that the offer will elicit a positive response from the Indian government.

She added that hawks on the either side must be sidelined in this, so that a new beginning in the Indo-Pak thaw could be made possible.

“Prime Minister must lead this process personally so that the hawks are not allowed to disrupt this new atmosphere of peace. Such initiatives of offering peace through these channels are worth praise,” Mehbooba said.

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