Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday declined Pakistan’s invitation to attend the foundation-laying ceremony for the Kartarpur corridor, citing continued terrorist attacks in his state and the killings of Indian soldiers, ANI reported.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in a tweet on Saturday said he had extended an invitation to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Singh and Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu to attend the ceremony on November 28. Swaraj earlier said she would be unable to attend the groundbreaking ceremony and deputed Union ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri.
Singh declined the invite via a letter to Qureshi, NDTV reported. Singh said while he welcomed the historic occasion, he would have to “most reluctantly regret his inability to be present” due to Pakistani security forces continuously attacking positions in Jammu and Kashmir and the Inter-Services Intelligence allegedly shoring up its operations in Punjab.
“The last attack was in Amritsar last Sunday, on a peaceful religious congregation in one of our villages, in which three men were killed and 19, including women and children, were wounded,” Singh said, referring to the explosion at the Nirankari Bhawan that killed three people and wounded 20 others. The chief minister had earlier said that grenade used in the attack was made in Pakistan.
“I hope the Prime Minister [Imran Khan] will understand that under these circumstances it will not be possible for me to be present in Pakistan on this historic occasion, despite the fact that paying my respects at Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib has always been my cherished dream, which will hopefully be fulfilled once these hostilities and killings are stopped,” Singh added.
Meanwhile, Sidhu wrote to Qureshi and said he was looking forward to the meeting “on this historic occasion”, ANI reported. “My application for permission to attend is now lodged with the MEA [Ministry of External Affairs],” he said.