Kartarpur Corridor on Pak Side’s Stone-Laying Ceremony Today; Pakistan to Invite PM Modi for 2019 SAARC Summit
High hopes are being swathing both sides across the fence as the Kartarpur corridor linking Gurdwara Darbar Sahib — the final resting place of Guru Nanak Dev — to Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur, seems to not only linking territories but also drawing hearts closer. Albeit the controversies engulfed the pious project and some clashes reported from the other side of the border, still an evening before the stone laying ceremony of Kartarpur corridor on Pakistan’s side, great expectations are emanating on both sides.
More so, after Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal declared in Islamabad that Pakistan will invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the next SAARC summit in the country. At the California Pizza outlet, on the road to the famous Liberty Market in the heart of Lahore, four young women — two lecturers, a doctor and a PhD student — are convinced that Khan’s move is “wise” and could change how people view Pakistan.
“This initiative is a positive step, and we hope India will reciprocate,” said Maria Farooq, a lecturer in Islamic Studies, as her friends nodded in agreement. It’s not just people on the street. “We believe that Pakistan’s Kartarpur spirit, if reciprocated adequately, can be a harbinger of change in this most challenging relationship in South Asia,” Foreign Office spokesperson Faisal told The Indian Express over phone. Pakistan had invited External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to attend Wednesday’s event. But with prior commitments on her table, Union Ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri will attend the ceremony.
On Tuesday, India’s face on the ground was Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu who called the Kartarpur corridor as one of “infinite possibilities”. Faisal, meanwhile, borrowed a line from Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to say that the need to move from conflict to cooperation and animosity to peace is an established reality.
“Pakistan’s Kartarpur spirit, connecting hearts, should extend to Jammu & Kashmir and be a harbinger of hope for divided families who cannot meet each other even at funerals. If we find the political will to implement the same, we can all be winners,” he said.
Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said: “On both sides of the border, we have groups who support peace and those who oppose any relationship between the two countries. The governments have to choose which groups they support by opening Kartarpur. The PTI government in Pakistan has given a clear message that we support peace.”
On Monday, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh laid the foundation stone for the corridor on the Indian side in Gurdaspur. Earlier Tuesday, the Dawn newspaper quoted the Foreign Office spokesperson as saying that Modi will be invited to Pakistan for the SAARC summit.