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In Pakistan for Kartarpur Corridor Ceremony, Sidhu Says Hug With Army Chief Was 'Not Rafale Deal'

Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu’s visit to Pakistan comes a day after he skipped the foundation-laying ceremony for Kartarpur Corridor on the Indian side, saying he was not into any credit war.


Updated:November 27, 2018, 5:59 PM IST

New Delhi: Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu crossed the Attari-Wagah border into Pakistan on Tuesday and will attend the ground-breaking ceremony of the Kartarpur Corridor the next day, saying no one from the Centre had objected to his visit.

Sidhu’s visit to Pakistan comes a day after he skipped the foundation-laying ceremony on the Indian side, saying he was not into any credit war. Speaking to News18, he had said that the “full credit” of the decision to develop and open the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara Corridor between the two countries goes to “friend” and Pakistan PM Imran Khan.

Speaking to reporters after crossing the border, Sidhu denied his visit would put the Congress in a spot as was the case with his last visit to Pakistan when his party had to explain his ill-timed hug with Pakistan army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Questioned about the hug, Sidhu said: "The hug (with Pakistan Army Chief) was for hardly a second, it was not Rafale Deal. When two Punjabis meet they hug each other, its normal practice in Punjab."

The foundation stone on the Pakistani side of the corridor will be laid by Imran Khan on Wednesday. The corridor would aid the passage of Sikh pilgrims from India to worship Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan which was built to commemorate the site where Guru Nanak Dev, the Sikhs first guru and founder of Sikhism, lived for 18 years until his death in 1539.

Sidhu thanked Pakistan Prime Minister ImKhan for making this corridor possible which he said will help promote peace between the two countries.

"This will erase enmity between the two nations," Sidhu said.

"The seed Imran Khan had sown three months ago has become a plant. It is a happy moment for the Sikh community that the corridor to reach Kartarpur to get Baba Guru Nanak's blessing without any hassle," he told the media.

He said the wait of 71 years is over after the opening of the corridor. "The Karturpur Corridor will prove to be a path of peace, Sidhu added. He termed it as a "corridor of infinite possibilities" and said through such initiatives, peace would be promoted (between the two countries). "There are numerous artistes and cricketers in both the countries whom everyone loves and there need to be cricket matches between India and Pakistan," he said.

The former cricketer said the Katarpur Corridor would create infinite possibilities between the two neighbours including the resumption of cricket ties. "I want to avoid conflicts religion should not been seen through the lens of politics. There is no rule in the world that prevents religious devotees to visit places of worship," the former Indian cricketer-turned-politician said.

The decision to build the passage from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district to the International Border was taken by the Union Cabinet on November 22.

Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur is located on the banks of the Ravi river in Pakistan.

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| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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