Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said Saturday he did not trust Pakistan’s intent behind the opening of the Kartarpur corridor, saying their agenda was “nefarious and political” and aimed at “exploiting” the sentiments of the Sikhs.
“Pakistan is doing it with a different intent, which is not at all aimed at promoting peace,” Singh said at a press conference here to mark two years of his government. “India’s agenda is religious, but theirs is totally disruptive.”
The Congress leader said the number of devotees proposed by Islamabad to be allowed to pass the corridor was not at all sufficient and he wanted at least 15,000 pilgrims to be permitted to visit the historic gurdwara everyday.
The chief minister reiterated his demand for an open visit at the Kartarpur gurdwara, questioning the rationale behind having a corridor if the need for passport and visa was still there.
“Some identification was, of course, needed, but there was no need for passport etc,” he said, adding that such requirement would deprive poor people.
India and Pakistan had last year agreed to open up a special border crossing linking Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in the neighbouring country’s Kartarpur — the final resting place of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev — to Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district. The two countries seek to open the corridor in November on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.
Singh said he was all for the corridor, which was a matter of devotion for the Sikhs, but there was need to exercise caution.
He pointed out to the number of ISI-backed terror modules busted in Punjab in recent months. “While Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan talks of peace, their Army Chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, continues to promote his evil designs.”
Asked if the airstrike by the Indian Air Force in Pakistan’s Balakot would benefit the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Lok Sabha election, Singh said any government of the day, including the Congress, would have retaliated after the Pulwama attack.
The chief minister also lashed out at the BJP for politicisation of the armed forces. “The Congress has never politicised the 1965 or the 1971 wars. We have always put the nation above political interests,” he added. PTI