Imran Khan’s first gesture: Pakistan to open Kartapur border

New Delhi Updated: Aug 19, 2018

It could be termed new Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s first gesture to shore up ties with India. His country is contemplating to open the Kartarpur border on eve of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev in November a long pending demand of Sikhs to connect their three holy places across the borders.

Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu disclosed this after he had brief interaction with Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa. “General Bajwa came to me and said we were thinking of opening the Kartarpur route on the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev,” he said, after attending the oath-taking ceremony of Pakistan’s new premier Imran Khan.

Earlier, the Sikh religious body SGPC had petitioned Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh for taking up the issue of a opening up a corridor between Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district and Kartarpur Sahib in Narowal district of Pakistan.

At the time of partition out of three historical Gurdwaras close to the border two came to Indian side and Pakistan got one. Guru Nanak spent his last days in Gurdwara on the Pakistani side. The Gurdwara is visible from Indian side of border. India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is also hosting a massive programme across the globe to mark 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.

Sidhu hoped a new beginning in the bilateral relations between India and Pakistan. “I had come here with a message of love and I am taking back 100 times more love than what I brought here,” the Punjab minister told reporters after the ceremony. “It’s our duty that we go back and ask our government to take a step ahead and I hope if we take one step forward, people here will take two steps forward,” Sidhu was quoted by Pakistani news channels.

His attendance has caused a row, after he was seen embracing Pakistan army chief and sitting near to PoK president Masood Khan. “General Bajwa sahab hugged me and said we want peace. So, let’s swim in a blue ocean and shun the red ocean. It’s my dream,” he said.

Earlier, Sidhu used his usual poetic expression to praise Khan. “A new morning is here in Pakistan with a new government which can change the destiny of the country,” he said. He remarked that Pakistan’s new premier possesses the ability to change country’s future. He stressed that the purpose of his visit was not political rather spread the message of love.

“I brought a message of love and friendship. This message of friendship is for everyone, not just cricketers.”Sidhu arrived in Lahore on Friday via the Wagah border. Talking about the qualities of Khan, the former cricketer said: “I have seen Khan converting his weaknesses into his strength. I wish Imran becomes a symbol of prosperity (for his country).”

Commenting on Sidhu’s travel to Pakistan, Haryana health minister Anil Vij on Saturday lambasted the Punjab minister for attending Imran’s oath ceremony. Vij termed Sidhu’s participation in the ceremony as an “act of disloyalty” towards India which “will not be endorsed by any patriotic citizen” of the country.

Speaking to mediapersons, the Haryana minister also lashed out at Sidhu for “ignoring the sentimental and grieved occasion of his country” which is observing mourning following the demise of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. ( DNA )