Manmohan Singh to visit Sri Kartarpur Gurdwara in Pakistan on Amarinder Singh's invite on 9 November

The news comes after reports that Pakistan too had invited Manmohan Singh to attend the inaugural ceremony of the landmark Kartarpur Corridor in November

FP Staff October 03, 2019 15:40:17 IST
Manmohan Singh to visit Sri Kartarpur Gurdwara in Pakistan on Amarinder Singh's invite on 9 November
  • Former prime minister Manmohan Singh has accepted Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh's invitation to be the part of first the first group of pilgrims to go to Sri Kartarpur Gurdwara in Pakistan

  • Singh will also attend the 550th Gurpurab event at Sultanpur Lodhi in Punjab, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also expected to be present

  • The news comes after reports that Pakistan too had invited Singh to attend the inaugural ceremony of the landmark Kartarpur Corridor in November

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh has accepted Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh's invitation to be the part of the first group of pilgrims to go to Sri Kartarpur Gurdwara in Pakistan on 9 November, Punjab chief minister's media advisor said on Twitter. Singh will also attend the 550th Gurpurab event at Sultanpur Lodhi in Punjab, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also expected to be present.

The news comes after reports that Pakistan, too, had invited Singh to attend the inaugural ceremony of the landmark Kartarpur Corridor in November. While some reports have said, "Manmohan accepts Pakistan government's invitation...", it is still not clear whether Singh's being part of the pilgrims' group, had any relation with the earlier invitation extended by Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Earlier, Singh's office had said it had no information about Pakistan's invite and sources indicated that the former prime minister is unlikely to attend the event. There has been no formal comment on the matter since then.

Manmohan Singh to visit Sri Kartarpur Gurdwara in Pakistan on Amarinder Singhs invite on 9 November

File image of former prime minister Manmohan Singh. PTI

"The Kartarpur Corridor inauguration is a big programme and Pakistan is preparing for it in a big way," Qureshi said, noting that prime minister Imran Khan has a personal interest in it. "After consultations, Pakistan has decided to invite Manmohan Singh to the inauguration, who we hold in high regard. He will represent the Sikh community," he said.

The corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur in Pakistan with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district of Punjab and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims, who will only have to obtain a permit to visit the revered Kartarpur Sahib. Pakistan is scheduled to open the Kartarpur Corridor for Indian Sikh pilgrims on 9 November, days ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Sikhism founder Baba Guru Nanak on 12 November.

Pakistan has agreed to allow 5,000 Sikh pilgrims from India to visit on a daily basis to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Narowal through the Kartarpur corridor.

"On behalf of the government, as the foreign minister of Pakistan, I invite him to attend the inauguration of the Kartarpur Corridor," said Qureshi.

Qureshi, while justifying the decision to invite the senior Congress Party leader, said Sikhism was Singh's religion and that he was a representative of the Sikh community. "We are also very happy to receive the Sikh pilgrims who are coming to Kartarpur to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak," Qureshi said.

Sources said Singh is unlikely to go on Pakistan's invite as he had not visited Pakistan even during his tenure as prime minister for 10 years.

Kartarpur Corridor Project Director Atif Majid earlier this month said that 86 percent of the work on the corridor has been completed.

During the last round of talks on the Kartarpur corridor held recently, Pakistan showed inflexibility and gave unfavourable responses on issues of charging a service fee, the number of pilgrims to be allowed on special occasions and allowing protocol officials to accompany them.

There were three issues on which the Indian side had asked Pakistan to show some flexibility — their insistence on charging $20 per pilgrim, allowing 10,000 pilgrims on special occasions and Indian protocol officer to accompany the delegation that visits Kartarpur everyday.

Pakistan and India have kept the corridor project insulated from their recent bilateral tensions over New Delhi revoking the special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

With inputs from PTI

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