Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday said said his Cabinet colleague Navjot Singh Sidhu’s visit to Pakistan was a private one and not official, PTI reported. Sidhu is currently in Pakistan to attend the foundation-laying ceremony for the Kartarpur corridor on Wednesday.
Singh said he had asked Sidhu to reconsider his decision but the minister chose to go ahead with the visit. “Sidhu told me he had already committed himself to going,” said Singh. “When I informed him of the stand I had taken on the issue, he said it was his personal visit but he would get back to me. But I did not hear from him.”
Singh had earlier declined Pakistan’s invitation to attend the ceremony, citing continued terrorist attacks in his state and the killings of Indian soldiers. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also chose to skip the ceremony, saying she had prior commitments.
Both Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had extended Sidhu an invite. Singh said Sidhu had sent him a request to go and he had approved it. “I do not stop anyone from going anywhere on a private visit,” said Singh. “It is not an official visit.”
Singh reiterated his decision to not visit Pakistan which he alleged was responsible for the killings of Indian citizens and soldiers. “I have strong feelings on the issue,” he said. “I have a strong bond with the Army and cannot stand seeing my people killed.”
Sidhu, who crossed the Attari-Wagah border into Pakistan on Tuesday, expressed hope that the corridor would act as a bridge and erase enmity between the two countries. He described it as “a corridor of infinite possibilities, of peace, of prosperity, of opening up of trade relations”.