Pakistan PM Imran Khan pitches for peace with India

Pakistan PM Imran Khan pitches for peace with India

Army and the political leadership on one page to take dialogue with India forward, says Mr. Khan

Pakistan’s Army and political leadership are on “one page” to take dialogue with India forward, said Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday at the ground-breaking ceremony for the Kartarpur corridor, where Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Bajwa was also present.ALSO READSee Kartarpur corridor project in isolation, says Army chief Bipin Rawat

The four-kilometre corridor from the border with India will allow pilgrims easy access when completed, and will be ready in time for Sikh founder Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary on November 23, 2019.

Speaking to an audience that included Union Ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Puri who travelled to Pakistan as envoys of the Indian government, Mr. Khan thanked them and Punjab Minister and Congress leader Navjot Sidhu in particular for his role in taking forward the Pakistani proposal for the corridor with New Delhi.

“I want to say that today I as the Prime Minister [of Pakistan], my party, all our political parties, and our army are on one page. We want to move forward,” PM Khan told a large gathering of Sikhs from Pakistan and Sikh pilgrims from India.

In a speech largely reaching out to the Indian government to “break the shackles of the past” and restart engagement, Mr. Khan also struck a discordant note on Kashmir, referring to the dispute as the “single issue” between India and Pakistan. India has maintained that terrorism sponsored by Pakistan is holding back the dialogue process. Asked about the reference, Ms. Badal told The Hindu that the PM’s remark didn’t change the Indian stand.

“Kashmir is a part of India and that remains our position,” Ms. Badal said after the ceremony. “[PM Khan] has said he wants peace with India and I am sure we can work something out. Today is an auspicious start for that peace process, and I am sure that with the grace of Baba Nanak we can sort out things.”

PTI adds…

Emphasising on improvement of Indo-Pak ties, Mr. Khan said there was need for “showing strength, will and determination” at the level of the leadership.ALSO READPakistan PM Imran Khan’s speech at Kartarpur ceremony – highlights

“If France and Germany who fought several wars can live in peace, why can’t India and Pakistan,” the Prime Minister said in Urdu.

“We have just one problem, Kashmir. If man can walk on the moon, what problems are there that we cannot resolve? We only need determined leadership on both sides,” he said and reiterated that if India takes one step forward, Pakistan will take two steps forward in friendship.

Mr. Khan said that there have been “mistakes on both sides” and asserted that the two sides should not live in the past.

“Where Pakistan and India stand today, we have seen such a situation for 70 years now,” Mr. Khan said.

“We will stay stuck this way unless we break the shackles of the past and stop blaming each other,” he said, adding that the two neighbours must improve their ties.ALSO READIndia protests Imran Khan’s reference to Kashmir during ‘a pious occasion’

He said the citizens of both countries want peace and it is just the leadership which needs to be on same page.

Gurdwara Darbar Sahib is located across the Ravi river, about four km from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine. It was established by the Sikh Guru in 1522.

Expected to be completed in six months

The Kartarpur Corridor is expected to be completed within six months. The development comes ahead of Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary next year.

Thousands of Sikh devotees from India visit Pakistan every year to celebrate the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. India had proposed the corridor to Pakistan around 20 years back.

Last week, Pakistan and India announced that they would develop the corridoron their respective side of the border.

The issue of Kartarpur Sahib came into focus after Mr. Sidhu visited Pakistan in August to attend the oath-taking ceremony of his cricketer-turned-politician friend Imran Khan as prime minister. After his return, Mr. Sidhu said Pakistan Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa told him that Pakistan may open a corridor to Kartarpur Sahib.

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