Pakistan will invite former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as a representative of the Sikh community for the inaugural ceremony of the historic Kartarpur Corridor in November, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told Pakistani media Monday.
However, Singh’s office said they had no information of this move, and Congress party sources said he would “decline” any such invitation.
“The Kartarpur Corridor inauguration is a big programme and Pakistan is preparing for it in a big way… After consultations, Pakistan has decided to invite Manmohan Singh to the inauguration, who we hold in high regard. He will represent the Sikh community,” Qureshi was quoted as saying in Pakistani media reports.
“On behalf of the government, as the foreign minister of Pakistan, I invite him to attend the inauguration of the Kartarpur Corridor,” said Qureshi, according to the reports.
Reacting to the reports, sources close to Singh said: “We have not got any invitation. We have only heard about it in the media.”
Sources in the Congress indicated that Singh would decline the invitation. He did not visit Pakistan “even once when he was the Prime Minister for ten years”, they said.
Pakistan is scheduled to open the Kartarpur Corridor for Indian Sikh pilgrims on November 9, ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak on November 12.
The corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan with Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur. Pakistan has agreed to allow 5,000 Sikh pilgrims from India to visit on a daily basis to Darbar Sahib in Narowal through the Kartarpur corridor.
While Pakistani officials have said that over 85 per cent of work on the corridor has been completed, differences remain between India and Pakistan on various issues, including a service fee and the number of pilgrims to be allowed on special occasions and protocol officials to accompany them.
With PTI inputs
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