Sidhu Says Real Credit for Kartarpur Goes to Pak PM, Sparks Row
Congress’ Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu once again courted controversy on Monday, 26 November, after he said that the "real credit" for initiating the process for opening the Kartarpur corridor for Sikh pilgrims goes to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Sidhu had earlier faced criticism for attending Khan’s swearing-in ceremony, and for famously embracing Pakistan Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa during the event.
Lauding Khan’s efforts, Sidhu said:
Sidhu said the matter was above politics and added that “the entire world is happy”.
“Religion should be kept away from politics. Let people like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Ghulam Ali reduce differences," he said.
The Punjab minister's comments came on the 10th anniversary of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, which saw 166 killed and scores injured after Pakistani terrorists infiltrated the city.
Sidhu had, on Sunday, accepted Pakistan's invitation to attend the ground-breaking ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor on Wednesday, while Punjab CM Amarinder Singh had declined the invite, citing continuous terrorist attacks in his state.
Sidhu's Decision His 'Way of Thinking': Amarinder
Meanwhile, the Punjab CM on Monday said Sidhu's decision to visit Pakistan for the ground-breaking ceremony of Kartarpur corridor was "his way of thinking", but he himself could not think of doing so when Indian soldiers and civilians were being killed.
On the central government's decision to send its ministers to Pakistan for the ceremony, the Punjab chief minister said it was for them to do what they deem fit but, he added, they should have been more sensitive to the feelings of Indian soldiers and citizens.
He said the world knows Pakistan supports terrorist activities in India, and cited as examples the attacks in Pathankot (2016), Mumbai (2008), Dina Nagar in Gurdaspur (2015) and the trouble in Jammu & Kashmir.
"If you think (Pakistan Prime Minister) Imran Khan can stop it, that won't happen. Governments work under the army in Pakistan. Army is a power in itself. It is for Pakistan Army chief Gen Bajwa to understand that such things should not happen (again)... Armies don't fight innocent women and children, armies don't throw grenades on religious congregation, armies are there to defend the country," he said.
In August, Sidhu's visit to Pakistan for Khan's swearing-in had come under fire from opposition parties for his hug to Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa. Sidhu had claimed that Gen Bajwa had told him about "making efforts to open the Kartarpur corridor".
Kartarpur is in Shakargarh in Narowal district of Pakistan's Punjab province. Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism, had spent over 18 years of his life there.
The Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara is about three to four kilometer from the border in Pakistan.
(With inputs from PTI)