New Delhi: In a deft move by the Congress bound to leave the Pakistan government disappointed, former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh will not be attending the opening ceremony of Kartarpur Corridor being organised by Prime Minister Imran Khan’s administration on November 9. Instead, he will lead an all-party jatha (delegation) to Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib using the corridor on the same day.
Congress sources said Dr Singh won’t deviate from the Kartarpur Corridor route to step onto Pakistan soil.
Both Dr Singh and Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh will travel to Kartarpur Sahib gurudwara as pilgrims through the corridor — which is sanitised and cut off from the rest of the country — to pay obeisance at the holy place.
The Pakistan government had, on Monday, extended an invitation to Dr Singh to be the guest of honour at the opening ceremony of the Kartarpur Corridor.
Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi termed Dr Singh the representative of the Sikh community while inviting him.
Interestingly, there was confusion early on Thursday with unconfirmed reports saying that the former PM and Capt. Amarinder Singh have accepted Pakistan government’s invite to attend the inauguration function.
The confusion began with the Punjab chief minister’s tweet. “Happy to meet former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singhji at his residence today. Have invited him to join us on the 1st jatha to Sri Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara & attend the main event at Sultanpur Lodhi to mark Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s ,” Capt. Singh had tweeted.
This triggered speculation that Dr Singh would lead the all-party delegation to the opening ceremony event in Pakistan. However, Capt. Singh’s media advisor immediately clarified in a tweet that there is no question of the CM and the former PM attending a Pakistan government function.
The Punjab CM’s office also clarified that both Capt. Singh and Dr Singh will use the Kartarpur Corridor as normal pilgrims to go specifically and only to Kartarpur Saheb gurudwara.
The corridor is not the usual route for entry into Pakistan and attending the function, thus, is ruled out.
“There is no question of me going (to Pakistan for the Kartarpur Corridor opening) and I feel Dr Manmohan Singh will not go as well,” Capt. Singh said later, pointing out that there was a huge difference between visiting Pakistan and going to the gurdwara through the corridor. As far as visiting Pakistan is concerned, the Punjab CM reiterated that he would not go there till cross-border terrorism stops.