Pak PM, Army hope India will respond 'positively' to Kartarpur border opening
Kashmir issue won't be put on back burner after Kartarpur border opening: FO
Islamabad, Dec 06: Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Pakistan Army on Thursday hoped that India will respond "positively" to Pakistan's "goodwill gesture" of opening the Kartarpur border for the Sikh pilgrims even as the country’s Foreign Office said that the "core issue" of Kashmir with India will not be put on the back burner after Islamabad opened the Kartarpur border.
On November 28, Khan laid the foundation stone of the Kartarpur corridor on the Pakistani side while on November 26, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh laid its foundation stone in Punjab's Gurdaspur.
The 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.
Khan termed it unfortunate that Indian media gave a political colour to Pakistan's positive gesture of opening the Kartarpur border.
Addressing the Cabinet, Khan said: "Unfortunately the Indian media has given Kartarpur (border opening) a political colour, as if we did this to gain some sort of political mileage... This is not true. We did it because it is part of (the ruling) Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf's manifesto," he said.
"We have religious sites that are important for Hindus and Buddhists; we should open them up and facilitate the people," Khan said, without explaining.
The Sikh community has responded very positively to the effort to open the Kartarpur border, he said.
"It is to them (Sikhs) what Madinah is to us Muslims. We hope that India will also respond positively in return," the Prime Minister said.
In a separate press conference in Rawalpindi, Director General Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor of army's media wing Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said Pakistan has taken several positive initiatives for peace with India, and the latest one was the groundbreaking of the Kartarpur corridor.
He, however, regretted that the initiative was negatively presented in India, but hoped that India will "positively respond to this goodwill gesture".
Ghafoor said that the corridor will be constructed in six months after which 4,000 Sikh pilgrims will be able to visit daily.
"It will be a one-way corridor from the Indian side to Kartarpur, and the Sikh pilgrims will remain restricted to Kartarpur," the officer added.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said that the corridor would be completed before the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev next year.
Faisal said that the Kashmir issue will not be put on the back burner due to the Kartarpur border opening.
"With regards to Jammu and Kashmir dispute, if there is any idea in the mind of anybody that due to Kartarpur or any other reason, the resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute will be put on the back burner, it is misplaced," he said.
"The decision of opening of the Kartarpur corridor was made in good faith and to facilitate the Sikh community to visit their one of the holiest places," he said, adding it will not impact the Kashmir issue.
On November 28, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that there will be no dialogue with Pakistan unless it desists from terrorist activities against India.
She said the Kartarpur corridor initiative was not linked to the dialogue process with Pakistan.
Faisal said the Kashmir issue would be resolved according to UN resolutions and aspirations of the Kashmiri people.
He said that the bilateral dialogue can move forward only if India was ready for it.
"We can only move forward if India remains steadfast. India's reluctance in reciprocating to Pakistan's proposal is the biggest hurdle in normalisation of relations between the two countries," Faisal said.
He said that Prime Minister Khan in his letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi had outlined a comprehensive way forward for resolving all outstanding issues including Jammu and Kashmir dispute, Sir Creek, Siachen, people-to-people contacts, trade and religious tourism.
"Regrettably, India agreed to our proposal one day, only to renege on their commitment the next day," he said.
Faisal said that the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed Pakistan that the map shown by China Global Television Network portrays Jammu and Kashmir as a disputed territory and was therefore shown in white, while the maps of Pakistan and India were in brown.
"This map is in accordance with the approved maps used by the Chinese government and the United Nations. They further said that their position on Jammu and Kashmir and maps has never changed," the FO spokesperson said.
Pak should expeditiously fulfill promises made on Kartarpur project: India
New Delhi, Dec 06: India said Thursday it expects Pakistan to implement its announcements relating to the Kartarpur corridor project "expeditiously".
"Pakistan has to come true to the announcements they made.... It is important that they implement the announcements expeditiously," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar told reporters while replying to questions on the issue.
He also suggested that the protocol officer attached to Union Minister Hasimrat Kaur Badal during the ground-breaking ceremony of the corridor in Pakistan was not allowed to accompany her when she visited Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur.
There was a "problem" of access to the protocol officer, said Kumar, adding it helps to have a protocol officer in hand to assist the minister. "That did not happen," he said refusing to elaborate further.
Union ministers Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri as well as Punjab state minister Navjot Singh Sidhu attended the groundbreaking ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor in Pakistan on November 28.
The corridor will link the Darbar Sahib shrine in Kartarpur in Narowal district of Pakistan's Punjab province to Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district in India.
Addressing a gathering after the ceremony, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had said that his government will create various facilities for the pilgrims including hotels and restaurants.
After the event, a row broke out following Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi's remarks that Khan, a former cricketer, bowled a "googly", forcing India to send two ministers to the groundbreaking ceremony of the corridor in Pakistan.
The Pakistan PM distanced himself from the remarks by his foreign minister.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj criticised Qureshi for his "googly" comments and said they reflected that he has no respect for Sikh sentiments.