New Delhi (November 28, 2018): India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has said that the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi would not travel to Pakistan to attend South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit.
As Indian delegates attended the Kartarpur corridor groundbreaking ceremony in Narowal on Wednesday, Indian Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj announced that India will not attend the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) conference if it is held in Pakistan.
In a press conference held today, Sushma Swaraj said that opening Kartarpur Corridor doesn’t mean that the bilateral dialogue with Pakistan will start.
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She brushed off any possibility of improvement in relations between India and and Pakistan, despite the opening of the Kartarpur crossing. “Until and unless Pakistan stops terrorist activities in India, there will be no dialogue and we will not participate in Saarc [conference],” asserted Swaraj.
Addressing a press conference earlier today, the minister thanked Pakistan for accepting India’s longstanding demand for opening of the Kartarpur corridor but clarified that it does not mean that bilateral talks will begin soon.
Owing to India’s refusal to attend, Pakistan will not be able to convene the event for the third year now. Participation of all member states is mandatory for the convening of a Saarc summit.
Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa had hinted at opening the Kartarpur border on the occasion of Baba Guru Nanak’s birth anniversary next year for Sikh pilgrims when he met cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu during the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Khan in August.
However, while talking to journalists in Indian Hyderabad, Swaraj claimed that India had been “asking for the [opening] of the Kartarpur corridor” for the past 20 years.
“For the first time, Pakistan has responded positively to this,” she added.
Earlier yesterday (November 27), Foreign Office Spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal said that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be invited to Pakistan for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) summit.
Dr Faisal recalled that Prime Minister Imran Khan in his first address had said that if India took one step forward, Pakistan would take two.
He added that the premier, in his response to Modi’s letter, had expressed Pakistan’s openness to resolving all outstanding issues through dialogue with India.
The last summit of the leaders of the eight SAARC countries was convened in Kathmandu in late 2014.To a question, Foreign Office spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal pitched for dialogue with New Delhi to solve all contentious issues.
“We fought a war with India, relations cannot be fixed quickly,” Faisal said.
Previously on November 24, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood invited his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj, Chief Minister of Punjab Capt Amarinder Singh and Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu to Pakistan.
The foreign minister took to Twitter on Saturday to state that three Indian politicians were invited to attend the groundbreaking ceremony at Kartarpur on Nov 28, 2018.
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On behalf of Pakistan I have extended an invitation to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj @SushmaSwaraj ,Capt Amarinder Singh @capt_amarinder & Navjot Singh Sidhu @sherryontopp to attend the groundbreaking ceremony at #Kartarpura on 28 Nov, 2018. Qureshi tweeted.
On behalf of Pakistan I have extended an invitation to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj @SushmaSwaraj ,Capt Amarinder Singh @capt_amarinder & Navjot Singh Sidhu @sherryontopp to attend the groundbreaking ceremony at #Kartarpura on 28 Nov, 2018.#PakistanKartarpuraSpirit
— Shah Mahmood Qureshi (@SMQureshiPTI) November 24, 2018
Qureshi, in his tweet invited External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj Capt Amarinder Singh & Navjot Singh Sidhu to attend the groundbreaking ceremony at #Kartarpura on 28 Nov, 2018.
The proposal for the corridor has been on the table since 1988 — when Pakistan and India agreed in principle to construct a corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in India to Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan — but tense relations between the two countries prevented progress on the plan.
The opening of the Kartarpur crossing will enable Sikh pilgrims to visit the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, located in Kartarpur, Narowal district without a visa. The corridor will connect Dera Baba Nanak in Indian Punjab’s Gurdaspur to Kartarpur in Pakistan’s Narowal district where the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib — the shrine of revered saint Baba Guru Nanak — is situated.