Sushma Swaraj declines Pakistan’s invitation for Kartarpur corridor groundbreaking ceremony; Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Hardeep Singh Puri to represent India

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Islamabad | Updated: November 25, 2018 12:07 AM

Swaraj's response came hours after Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi invited her to visit Pakistan to attend the ceremony on November 28.

Sushma Swaraj, Kartarpur corridor, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Gurdaspur, Pakistan, Amarinder SinghApart from Swaraj, Qureshi also invited Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu to the ceremony.

Union Ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri will travel to Pakistan next week for the groundbreaking ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj conveyed to Islamabad Saturday.

Swaraj’s response came hours after Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi invited her to visit Pakistan to attend the ceremony on November 28.

In a letter to Qureshi, Swaraj thanked her Pakistani counterpart for the invite and said she was unable to travel to Kartarpur Sahib due to prior commitments including election campaign in Telangana and that India will be represented at the ceremony by Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Puri.

“Since I am unable to travel to Kartarpur Sahib on the scheduled date, Government of India will be represented by my esteemed colleagues Mrs Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Mr H S Puri (sic),” she tweeted.

Swaraj also hoped that the Pakistan government will ensure that the construction of the corridor is expedited so that “our citizens can pay their respects at the Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib using the corridor as soon as possible.”

Earlier, Pakistan had invited Sushma Swaraj to visit the country to attend the groundbreaking ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor next week, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Saturday. A long-pending demand of the Sikh community to build a religious corridor linking India’s border district of Gurdaspur with a historic gurudwara in Pakistan may finally be fulfilled with both the countries announcing that stretches would be developed in their respective areas.

Prime Minister Imran Khan will inaugurate the groundbreaking ceremony of the facilities on the Pakistani side on November 28.A part from Swaraj, Qureshi also invited Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu to the ceremony.

“On behalf of Pakistan I have extended an invitation to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Capt Amarinder Singh & Navjot Singh Sidhu to attend the groundbreaking ceremony at Kartarpura on Nov 28, 2018,” Qureshi tweeted.

India’s Cabinet cleared a proposal Thursday to develop a corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district to the International Border to facilitate Indian pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan. Amarinder Singh has invited Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, the speaker of the Assembly in Pakistan’s Punjab province, to attend a similar ceremony on the Indian side on November 26, according to officials here.

Pakistan Foreign Office on Friday said the “Kartarpur Spirit can be a step forward in the right direction from conflict to cooperation, animosity to peace and enmity to friendship.”

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