Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan,during the groundbreaking ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor, stated that there was only one problem between India and Pakistan, which is Kashmir.
While welcoming “our Sikh brothers and sisters who have come from all around the world”, he likened the happiness on their faces to finally being able to visit one of Islam’s holy sites, Madina
“We will keep improving the Kartarpur darbar for you,” he told Sikh pilgrims. “We will keep giving you facilities … When you come next year, we will provide you with every sort of facility,” he said, as reported by Dawn online.
“Where Pakistan and India stand today, we have seen such a situation for 70 years now,” Khan said. “We will stay stuck this way unless we break the shackles of the past and stop blaming each other. There have been mistakes on both sides.”
He stated that rather than living in the past, the past could be used to ‘learn lessons’.
“We still do not have the resolve to decide that, no matter what, we must improve our ties,” he said. “France and Germany, who have fought so many wars, are now living as neighbours. They have trade ties despite killing thousands of each other’s people. But their leaders one day decided that we will break their shackles and they did.”
He claimed that both neighboring countries “cannot understand the opportunities God has given us”.
“Whenever I visited India for conferences, I was told that politicians are united, but the army won’t allow for friendship,” he claimed.
“I am saying today, that our political leaders, our army, and all other institutions are all on one page. We wish to move forward, we want a civilised relationship. We have just one problem, Kashmir. If man can walk on the moon, what problems are there that we cannot resolve?” he asked.
“I assure you that we can solve this problem. But determination and big dreams are both necessary. Imagine, once trade begins, once our relationship is fixed, how much both nations could benefit,” he said. “Both countries can get ahead.”
“If India takes one step forward, we will take two steps forward in friendship,” he reiterated.
Referring to the controversy surrounding Navjot when he last visited Pakistan during Khan’s oath-taking ceremony, he observed how war could not take place between them since they had nuclear arms, calling it ‘madness’.
The premier joked that Navjot had accumulated such a large fan following in Punjab that if he ran in elections here, he would win.
“I am hoping that we don’t have to wait until Sidhu becomes prime minister for there to be peace between India and Pakistan,” he added. “The citizens of both countries want peace. It is just the leadership which needs to be on one page.”
Referring to the Kashmir comment, National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah, in a tweet, stated how he made it ‘sound so simple’.
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) November 28, 2018
Meanwhile, PDP President Mehbooba Mufti has said that after opening the Kartarpur Border for Sikh pilgrims, India and Pakistan should facilitate the opening of Sharda Peeth pilgrimage for Kashmiris.
In a tweet, the Former Chief Minister said that Kartarpur is a great example of how religion can bring people together and added that it is a path ‘envisioned by PDP founder Mufti Sayeed to end turmoil in Kashmir.’
The Kartarpur Corridor, which will facilitate the visa-free travel of members of India’s Sikh community to their religious site in Pakistan, will be inauguarated today and is expected to be completed within six months.
Earlier, the Union Cabinet headed by PM Narendra Modi announced building the Kartarpur road corridor up to the international border between India and Pakistan to let Sikh pilgrims visit the gurdwara on the banks of the river Ravi in Pakistan.
Both Pakistan and India made the decision to allow the pilgrims visit the holy shrine without having to secure a visa.
The foundation stone in Gurdaspur was laid by Vice-President of India Venkaiah Naidu in the presence of the CM and Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari on Monday.
The Government of Pakistan had also said that it would provide land to Sikh organisations for construction of modern hotels in Kartarpur, Nankana Sahib and Narowal, besides construction of a railway station in Kartarpur to provide state-of-the-art board and lodging facilities to Sikh pilgrims visiting Pakistan.