Pakistan on Friday said it was ready to open the Kartarpur corridor and welcome Sikh pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, the final resting place of Guru Nanak, PTI reported. This came amid rising hostilities between the two countries after New Delhi revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir earlier this month.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi made the comments while speaking to a delegation of civil society members and parliamentarians of Afghanistan. They are on a visit to Islamabad for the “Track-II dialogue, Beyond Boundaries”.
“Despite our tensions with India, we have decided go ahead with Kartarpur Corridor and we stand ready to welcome the Sikh pilgrims for the 550th anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak,” the foreign minister told the delegation.
Foreign Office Spokesperson Mohammad Faisal had earlier this month reiterated during a weekly press briefing that the initiative will continue irrespective of the new developments. He added that Pakistan respects all religions and would continue the project to help Sikh pilgrims.
New Delhi and Islamabad laid the foundation stone for the project in November last year. The corridor will connect Dera Baba Nanak in India’s Punjab with the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur area of Pakistan’s Narowal district. The corridor will allow Indian Sikh devotees to travel without visas to the pilgrimage site.
Qureshi also assured the delegation that the tensions with India will not affect relations with the Afghanistan. “Border [with Afghanistan] will not be closed nor trade will stop,” he said. “Why should Afghans suffer because of the idiosyncratic behaviour of Narendra Modi?”
He added: “It [Kashmir situation] can be a huge distraction but we are very clear what we need to do in Afghanistan.”
The minister said Islamabad wanted to have good relations with Afghanistan, and peaceful co-existence. “We have no favourites in the upcoming election,” Qureshi said. “It is not our business who governs Afghanistan. We will not interfere. Whoever you [Afghanistanis] will choose, we will work with them.”