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Kartarpur Corridor: Imran Khan distances himself Pakistan foreign minister's 'googly' comment, calls initiative 'sincere effort'

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday appeared to distance himself from Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi's comment that he bowled a "googly" to ensure Indian government's presence at the groundbreaking ceremony of the landmark Kartarpur Corridor. He stated that that the Kartarpur Corridor was not a "googly" and that the invite to the Indian ministers was a simple and sincere effort to maintain good relations with India.

Qureshi also defended his comment on Sunday, saying that linking his remarks to "Sikh sentiments" was misleading.

Qureshi, while making the comment on Thursday, noted that it was the same Indian government that had said it will not engage with Pakistan sent two ministers to the groundbreaking ceremony. He said a meeting with Indian counterpart Swaraj was fixed on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) last year but it was cancelled by India.

Khan on last Wednesday laid the foundation stone for the Kartarpur Corridor linking two revered gurdwaras on both sides of the border. Union ministers from India, Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri, along with Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu, attended the event in Pakistan Punjab province's Narowal area.

Qureshi's remarks drew strong criticism from External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who came down heavily on her Pakistani counterpart saying his comments "exposed" him and that Pakistan has "no respect for Sikh sentiments". Qureshi took to Twitter on Sunday to respond to the criticisms.

"Dragging my comment towards 'Sikh sentiments' is a deliberate attempt to misrepresent and mislead. What I said was strictly with reference to bilateral interaction with the Indian government," he tweeted. "We have deep respect for Sikh sentiments and no amount of distortions or controversies would change it," he said.

Qureshi also said the Kartarpur Corridor was opened to fulfil the desires of the Sikh community. "In deference to the long-standing desires of our Sikh brethren, we decided to open the Kartarpur Corridor. We have taken this historic initiative in good faith and will carry it forward in good faith," he tweeted.

Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal also took exception to Qureshi's remarks and warned Pakistan that it should not use the Kartarpur Corridor issue and religion to fulfil its "evil designs" of vitiating the peaceful atmosphere in India and particularly in Punjab. She said the issue was a matter of faith and there is no scope for "one-upmanship" and "petty politics" on it.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Dec 03, 2018 15:08:36 IST

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