Amid escalating tension between New Delhi and Islamabad, uncertainty prevails over the proposed investment by leading British businessmen in infrastructure projects on the Pakistani side of Kartarpur corridor project. British Sikh Association chairman Rami Ranger told The Indian Express over phone that there will be no investment in Pakistan by the Punjabi diaspora in UK “until relationships between New Delhi and Islamabad becomes cordial”.
The relations between the two countries have hit a low with Pakistan downgrading its ties with India after latter scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status earlier this month. The tension has led to Pakistan suspending the services of the two trains and bus that connect the two nations and putting an embargo on the cross-border trade.
Asked whether the diaspora has crystallised anything for the corridor project and, if yes, then how much was being invested, Ranger said, “Not yet. Nothing will (be finalised) until relationship between India and Pakistan becomes cordial”.
“If relationships are bad, then no one will invest,” added Ranger, who is the founder and chairman of leading British company Sun Mark Limited, which deals in marketing and distribution of fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) internationally. Ranger is also the chairman-cum-managing director of another leading British firm – Sea Air and Land Forwarding Limited.
In January this year, British Sikh Association had signed a memorandum with Pakistani multinational conglomerate Hashoo Group for development of infrastructure on the Kartarpur Corridor. Hashoo Group is into the businesses of energy, property, hospitality, commodities and industries. It owns and operates Pearl Continental Hotels and Marriott Hotels brands with presence in all major cities of Pakistan.
Ranger had signed the MoU on behalf of British Sikh Association in United Kingdom. Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara Southall president Gurmail Singh Malhi was also among those present at the time of signing of MoU. “We signed memorandums of understanding subject to India’s blessings,” said Ranger, who is recipient of Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade for five consecutive years from 2009 to 2013.
To a query that on their part, India and Pakistan both were saying that the corridor project was on track from their respective ends and will be operational by Guru Nanak Dev’s 550th birth anniversary this November, Ranger said, “Not sure.”
Ranger is also well known in political circles in United Kingdom. While announcing GG2 Man of the Year award to Ranger in 2014, then UK Prime Minister David Cameron had referred to him as “a great man, a great friend and a brilliant entrepreneur” and “living proof of spirit of enterprise and entrepreneurship”.
India and Pakistan had last November agreed to build the corridor to enable devotees access and pay obeisance at the historic Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in neighbouring country’s Kartarpur, the final resting place of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev. The corridor will link the Dera Baba Nanak shrine at Gurdaspur in India’s Punjab with the Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur, across the Ravi river, about four km away.