Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has declined Pakistan Foreign Minister’s invitation to attend the foundation stone laying for the Kartarpur Corridor on the other side of the border, citing continued terrorist attacks in his state and killings of Indian soldiers by Pak armed forces.
In a letter to Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the Chief Minister has welcomed the historic occasion, which he described as the cherished desire of the Sikhs around the world, but said he must most reluctantly, however, regret his inability to be present.
The Chief Minister said his reasons for declining the invitation were twofold. Firstly, “Not a day passes when Indian soldiers are not killed or wounded on the line of control in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said, adding that, “Rather than moving towards normalcy these incidents are escalating.”
Secondly, the Chief Minister accused the ISI of starting its “nefarious activities within Punjab.” He also said that since his Government was sworn in, in March 2017, the state had neutralized 19 ISI armed and controlled modules, apprehended 81 terrorists and recovered 79 weapons, in addition to numerous grenades of the HG 84 type made in Pakistan’s Ordnance factories, with Austrian knowhow, along with seizure of some IEDs. “The last attack was in Amritsar last Sunday, on a peaceful religious congregation in one of our villages, in which 3 men were killed and 19, including women and children, were wounded,” Captain Amarinder further pointed out, adding that both terrorists had since been caught.
Always cherished dream to visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib. Regret to decline invite of @SMQureshiPTI @ForeignOfficePk for Kartarpur Sahib Corridor ceremony. Cannot go while killings of Indian soldiers & terror attacks in Punjab continue. May Waheguru bless us with peace & amity! pic.twitter.com/LUujzJvtak
— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) November 25, 2018
“I hope the Prime Minister will understand that under these circumstances it will not be possible for me to be present in Pakistan on this historic occasion, despite the fact that paying my respects at Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib has always been my cherished dream which will hopefully be fulfilled once these hostilities and killings are stopped,” the Chief Minister has stated.
While thanking Qureshi for the invitation for the ceremony to lay the foundation stone of the proposed corridor linking Gurdwara Sahib Kartarpur to Dera Baba Nanak in Indian Punjab, where Sri Guru Nanak Devji spent the last 18 years of his life, the Chief Minister recalled his visit to Pakistan, when he had paid his respects at Gurdwara Sri Nankana Sahib and Gurdwara Sri Panja Sahib where his father Maharaja Yadvindra Singh had reconstructed Gurdwara Sri Panja Sahib in 1932.
“As you will see from the stone laid at Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib, it was my grandfather Maharaja Bhupindra Singh who carried out flood protection measures from 1920 to 1929 to protect our Gurdwara which was being ravaged by floods in the river Ravi each year,” he further wrote. “A visit to Sri Kartarpur Sahib has been a long cherished dream, and I hope once normalcy between our two countries is restored I will be able to do so, when the corridor is complete,” the CM said, recalling his own meeting with Qureshi during his Pak visit.
In conclusion, Singh expressed the hope that the Pakistani prime minister “will do all he can to bring our two countries together on the road to peace and friendship.”