In a stern warning to Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Monday said Punjab will not tolerate any “conspiracies” by the neighbouring country and advised Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to “control the Army and ISI” and “stop the attacks on Indian soil”.
“It is my duty to maintain peace in Punjab. But there are people like Pakistan Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa who want to create disturbances. I will not allow such conspiracies. Bajwa should wake up,” Amarinder, who was speaking at the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor in Gurdaspur, said.
The corridor will link India’s border district of Gurdaspur with Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan. To mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev next year, India last week announced building the Kartarpur road corridor up to the international border between India and Pakistan to let Sikh pilgrims visit the gurdwara on the banks of the river Ravi in Pakistan. The two neighbouring countries on November 15 had made an official announcement in this regard and had decided to let the pilgrims visit the holy shrine without having to secure a visa.
Continuing to caution the Pakistan Army head, Amarinder said, “I have been in the Army. I am senior to the Pakistan Army chief. Every Army personnel knows what the other Army personnel is thinking. Who has taught us to attack people holding religious congregations? We Punjabis know how to give a befitting reply to such forces.” The CM was referring to the recent grenade attack on Nirankari Satsang Bhawan in Amritsar which left three people dead and at least 16 injured.
— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) November 26, 2018
Shifting focus on the Pakistani government, Amarinder warned that “there is a limit to tolerance” and that India has a “bigger army than Pakistan”. “Only the Army runs in the government in Pakistan. The Pakistan PM must control the Army and ISI. We have a bigger Army than Pakistan. There is a limit of tolerance,” he said.
The CM also maintained that he will not visit Pakistan till the neighbouring country put a stop on terror activities. “Stop the attacks on Indian soil. This is why I am not visiting Pakistan for their ground-breaking ceremony despite an invitation from them. As a Sikh, I want to attend the ceremony but am also the CM of Punjab. People are telling me on Facebook to go to Pakistan. But I cannot go until there is peace,” he said.
Singh had declined Pakistan’s invitation to attend the groundbreaking ceremony on their side on November 28, citing continued terrorist attacks in his state and killings of Indian soldiers by the neighbour’s armed forces.
Speaking on similar lines, Vice-President Naidu said “using religion to attack us is not favourable to anyone”. “Some people are using religion to spread terrorism. But no religion has anything to do with terrorism. India never attacks any country. We don’t want to attack anyone. We want good relations with neighbours,” he said.
I am very happy to be present on the historic day today to lay the foundation for a project we have been dreaming of for a long time. It is a day that promises to bring us closer to the Guru we all revere. #KartarpurCorridor #GuruNanak #KartarpurSahib pic.twitter.com/2tqvWaBBVE
— VicePresidentOfIndia (@VPSecretariat) November 26, 2018
Naidu added, “Our PM had called all our neighbours for his oath-taking ceremony. He had also visited Lahore to attend a personal function without an invite. Some people have been using religion to attack us. It is not favourable to anyone. Our main challenges are to fight illiteracy and hunger. People want peace and harmony. It is only possible if both sides are working in synchronisation.”
Emphasising on the importance of promoting peace between the two countries, Naidu said, “Peace is the first condition of development. I hope people on the other side are also listening to what CM Singh and I have to say in this regard. The objective of this function is to work for peace.”
The move to open this corridor between the two nations is the first sign of a thaw in bilateral ties, which nosedived in recent years with no bilateral talks taking place. The ties between the two countries had been strained after the terror attacks by Pakistan-based groups in 2016.
Besides this, the corridor will be a historical landmark between the two countries and will also boost tourism as more pilgrims would visit the holy shrine throughout the years, the statement by the road ministry said.
Union Minister Nitin Gadkari too addressed the gathering during the ceremony and assured the completion of the corridor within four months.
Pakistan PM Imran Khan will inaugurate the ground-breaking ceremony of the Kartarpur Corridor on the Pakistani side on November 28.
Congress minister objects to Akali names on foundation stone
Meanwhile, a controversy erupted with a Congress minister objecting to the names of former Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir Singh Badal engraved on the foundation stone. Punjab’s Jails Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa was reviewing the arrangements made for the function when he spotted the names of the Badals on the foundation stone.
“I asked them (authorities concerned) about the status of former CM Parkash Singh Badal and former Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal in the government? If they want to write their names, then the name of Rajinder Kaur Bhattal (Congress leader and former CM) and others should also be there,” Randhawa said.