Washington: Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh has called for delinking the Mumbai terror attack and Pakistan's Kartarpur Corridor proposal even as he asserted that there has been no change in the government's policy that "talks and terror cannot go together".
The Kartarpur Sahib shrine in Pakistan is located across the river Ravi, about 4 kilometres from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab's Gurdaspur district. It was established by the Sikh Guru in 1522. The first Gurdwara, Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, was built here, where Guru Nanak Dev is said to have died.
Both India and Pakistan have announced that stretches would be developed in their respective areas.
Singh, who is currently on a three-city US trip to inaugurate 'Passport Seva' projects in New York, Washington DC and Atlanta, was felicitated at a Baltimore Gurdwara in Maryland in recognition of some of the decisions being taken by the Indian government for the Sikh community.
Asked if India can believe what Pakistan has promised on building the Kartarpur Sahib corridor, the minister said on Saturday: "Let's not initially raise doubts (on Pakistan over the corridor). And if they don't do, the whole world will see. Let's delink 26/11 and Kartarpur Sahib".
"Today people have to go to Dera Baba Nanak, stand on the border and look at Kartarpur Sahib. If the devotees can go up to Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara after the construction of the corridor, nothing is better than that. This is a religious issue. It has nothing to do with that (The Indian government's policy that talks and terror cannot go together)," he said in response to a question.
Asked if he was able to trust the new government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan, he said that it has just started functioning and let it prove that it can be trusted.
Singh said that India has laid down a very simple parameter. "We are willing to talk and this we laid down in 2014. We are willing to talk on any issue whatsoever provided you create an environment for talks.
"Let them do it. We will know the intention of the government of Pakistan. He (Imran) was a trusted batsman. If he stayed at the wicket for a longer period of time, he could be trusted. But if he went out (soon), I don't think his own team trusted him. Let's see," Singh said, clarifying that he has not been a fan of any cricketer at all.
India is making all possible diplomatic efforts, talking to all friends and even to China with regard to the UN Security Council designation of Azhar Masood, the 26/11 mastermind, the minister said.
"We have had conversations (with China) on this. And we always told them that you are also on the side of the people who do not want terrorism. How can you support somebody (involved in 26/11)? We leave it to the good sense that they will come up," Singh said.
On the implication of the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) on India after it inked the USD 5 billion deal with Russia to purchase the S-400 Triumf air defence system, Singh said that he is hopeful of a positive reaction from the United States.
Given that the US Congress made a provision for presidential waiver, experts believe that India will get a waiver. However, there has not been any word from the US.
"The US decides its policies based on relationship, what it feels it's a friend want and how it must treat its friends. I'm quite sure the way our relationship is, we will always get a positive reaction," Singh added.
India will send Union ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri to Pakistan next week to attend the groundbreaking ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said Saturday while responding to an invite to her by Islamabad for the event.
Sikhs in the US have hailed the Indian government's decision to build the religious corridor linking border district of Gurdaspur with historic Kartarpur Sahib gurudwara in Pakistan - fulfilling a long pending demand of the community.
Some 166 people, including Americans, were killed in the attack carried out by Pakistan-based 10 Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists. Nine of the attackers were killed by police while lone survivor Ajmal Kasab was captured and hanged after handed down death sentence by an Indian court.
Updated Date: Nov 25, 2018 16:33:57 IST