New Delhi / Pakistan invites Sidhu for Kartarpur Corridor opening ceremony

Hindustan Times : Oct 31, 2019, 01:13 PM
Former minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who wasn’t part of the inaugural jatha that will travel to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, Kartarpur, has been invited for the opening ceremony of the corridor on Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s orders, according to news agency ANI.

“Senator Faisal Javed Khan had a telephonic conversation with Navjot Singh Sidhu on the direction of Prime Minister Imran Khan and invited him to Pakistan on 9 November,” the news agency said on Wednesday.

Navjot Sidhu had pushed for the corridor to the Pakistan prime minister when he travelled to Pakistan to attend the Imran Khan’s swearing-in ceremony in 2018. When he returned, Sidhu announced that he had got an assurance that Pakistan would get the corridor ready well in time for Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary celebrations.

The corridor links Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, the final resting place of Sikhism’s founder Guru Nanak Dev, to Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district of India’s Punjab.

Navjot Sidhu had also travelled to Pakistan for the ground-breaking ceremony for the corridor late last year. His visits to Pakistan have been criticised, mostly by his political rivals, and occasionally, by leaders in his own party.

In the past, Sidhu has stood by his statements in face of barbs flung at him for his friendship with Imran Khan, who was his contemporary from his cricketing days and insisted that he saw himself as an “ambassador” of peace between the two countries.

Relations between the two countries have been on a steep slope over the last few months and years, at last count after India scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status in August this year. It was in this context that when the two countries signed the agreement for the Kartarpur corridor, officials preferred to complete the formality at the zero line of the border rather than cross over.

If Sidhu accepts the invite, it will be one of the most high profile event that he will participate in after exiting the Amarinder Singh Cabinet a few months earlier. Sidhu had been upset that Chief Minister Amarinder Singh changed his portfolio on grounds that he hadn’t performed and went public with his list of achievements. Earlier this month, his wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu announced her decision to exit the Congress, the party that she had joined just a few years earlier.