Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said Thursday that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be part of an all-party jatha through the Kartarpur Corridor, which will be opened next month, to the Darbar Sahib gurdwara in Pakistan to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.
However, the Chief Minister made it clear that neither he nor the former prime minister would be participating in any event organised by Pakistan to mark the formal inauguration of the corridor on November 9.
“There is no question of me going (for Pakistan’s event) and I feel Manmohan Singh will not go as well. There is a huge difference between visiting Pakistan and going to the gurdwara through the corridor,” said Amarinder in a statement issued by the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO).
Apart from meeting Manmohan Singh, Amarinder Thursday also called upon President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to formally invite them to events being organised by his government to mark the occasion. The invites have been accepted, the CMO said.
The Chief Minister has urged Kovind and Modi to participate in the opening of the corridor at Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur and the main event at Sultanpur Lodhi in Kapurthala on November 12.
On Monday, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had said that his country would invite Manmohan Singh as a representative of the Sikh community for the inaugural ceremony in Kartarpur Sahib. However, Singh’s office said they had no information of this move, and the Congress party said that he would “decline” any such invitation.
Amarinder said he would not visit Pakistan until that country “stops cross-border terrorism”. Punjab was the “worst sufferer of Pakistan’s cross-border terrorism,” the statement said.
The Chief Minister is expected to lead the first jatha of all 117 MLAs and MPs from Punjab, SGPC members and religious leaders through the corridor.
Speaking to The Indian Express, a senior Congress leader said Amarinder had met Manmohan Singh after the former Prime Minister expressed his desire to accompany the first jatha. “It was not about pre-empting any invitation from Pakistan. Being a part of the jatha is being a devotee,” he said.
Amarinder had earlier declined an invitation from Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to attend his swearing-in ceremony, and had criticised his then Cabinet Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu’s participation.
Incidentally, BJP ally and former Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal has already extended invitations to the President and the Prime Minister to attend separate events being organised by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) at Sultanpur Lodhi on November 12.