Asserting that opening the Kartarpur Corridor does not mean there will be talks with Islamabad, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj Wednesday said India will not attend the SAARC summit in Pakistan and there will be no dialogue “until and unless” Pakistan stops sponsoring terror.
Her announcement comes a day after Pakistan said that it would invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit and hours before Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation stone for the corridor linking Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur — the final resting place of Guru Nanak Dev — to Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Gurdaspur district.
Two union ministers — Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri — and Punjab minister Navjot Sidhu attended the ground-breaking ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor in Lahore.
Addressing a press conference in Hyderabad while campaigning ahead of the Telangana polls, Swaraj said: “See, bilateral dialogues and the Kartarpur corridor project are different things. I am happy that for the last 20 years, rather many years, the Government of India has been asking for the Kartarpur corridor and, for the first time, Pakistan has responded positively to this.”
“But, that doesn’t mean that the bilateral dialogue will start only on this. Bilateral talks always say that terror and talks cannot go together. The moment Pakistan stops all terrorist activities in India, the dialogue can start. But the dialogue is not connected to the Kartarpur project.”
Pointing to the attacks in Pathankot and Uri, she said: “It was me only who started a comprehensive dialogue but what happened after that? Pathankot. Uri. We have to take a big picture.” According to Union Minister, the Centre chose not to respond positively to Pakistan’s invitation. “That invitation has already been given but we are not responding to that positively. Until and unless Pakistan stops terrorist activities in India, there will be no dialogue and we will not participate in SAARC,’’ she said.
In 2016, India had pulled out of the 19th SAARC summit slated in Islamabad after the terrorist attack on an Army camp in Uri in J&K. The summit was called off after Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan also declined to attend.