Punjab Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu on Thursday got political clearance from the Ministry of External Affairs to attend the inauguration ceremony of the Kartarpur Corridor in Pakistan on November 9, unidentified officials told PTI. Earlier in the day, Sidhu had said he would visit Pakistan for the ceremony if the Centre did not reply to his multiple letters asking permission for the same.
Meanwhile, Pakistan said it has issued a visa for Sidhu to attend the inauguration of Kartarpur corridor on November 9.
In his third letter to the Ministry of External Affairs, Sidhu said he would skip the event “as a law-abiding citizen” if the government denied him permission to visit Pakistan. However, if the Centre does not reply to the letter, he will “proceed to Pakistan as millions of Sikh devotees go, on an eligible visa”, Sidhu said.
“The delay and no response is a hindrance to my future course of action,” the cricketer-turned-politician said. On November 4, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had invited Sidhu to attend the inauguration. Sidhu had also attended Khan’s swearing-in ceremony in August last year.
Posters have also come up in Amritsar hailing Sidhu and Khan as the “real heroes” of the Kartarpur corridor project, ANI reported. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said on Wednesday that it is up to Sidhu to explain these posters.
‘Won’t do justice to highlight one individual’
Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said at a press conference on Thursday that the inauguration of the Kartarpur corridor is a “very historic” event and it would not do justice to it to highlight “one individual”, PTI reported. “On the issue of a particular person going or not, or the specific travel plan of that person, I don’t think, considering the magnitude of the occasion, it would be appropriate that we comment on whether a particular individual can go or not,” Kumar added.
The spokesperson said that any person who wishes to go to the event has to submit a set of documents and complete a registration process on that basis, following which they can go for the inauguration. “Even all the details of the inaugural ‘jatha’ have not been shared as this is a matter of faith,” Kumar said. “Highlighting individuals is not important.”
Last month, India and Pakistan signed an agreement to operationalise the corridor, which will allow Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur in Pakistan’s Narowal district without a visa. It will be connected to Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur in India’s Punjab state. Sikhism’s founder Guru Nanak is believed to have settled down in Kartarpur after his travels. He was also laid to rest there.
Khan will formally inaugurate the corridor on November 9, ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to inaugurate the passenger terminal building at Dera Baba Nanak a day earlier.
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