Ex-PM Manmohan Singh agrees to be part of first 'jatha' to Kartarpur Sahib, says Punjab CM
Asked if Pakistan was playing a dirty game over the Kartarpur Corridor, the chief minister told the mediapersons to put this question to Imran Khan, the prime minister of the neighbouring country
New Delhi: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said on Thursday that former prime minister Manmohan Singh has agreed to join the first all-party "jatha" (delegation) to the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara to join the mega event after the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor. He also invited President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to attend the 550th Prakash Purb celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev and said that the two have agreed to attend. In separate meetings with the president and the prime minister here, he urged them to join the mega celebrations to mark the auspicious occasion. After his meeting with Manmohan Singh, Amarinder clarified that neither he nor the former prime minister had any plans to "visit" Pakistan and were merely visiting the historic and holy gurdwara through the Kartarpur Corridor as part of an all-party delegation.
"There is no question of me going (to Pakistan for the Kartarpur Corridor opening) and I feel Manmohan Singh will not go as well," he told reporters, pointing out that there was a huge difference between visiting Pakistan and going to the gurdwara through the Kartarpur Corridor. Pakistan has said that it will invite former prime minister Singh to the Kartarpur Corridor opening ceremony but Singh's office clarified that there has been no such invite so far. The Congress said politics is being played over the issue, with party sources adding that Manmohan Singh had not visited Pakistan even during his tenure as prime minister for 10 years. Amarinder Singh told media persons that both Kovind and Modi had accepted the Punjab government's invitation to be part of the historic celebrations and that the modalities of their visits would be chalked out after the Kartarpur Corridor opening programme was finalised with Pakistan.
An official spokesperson said the details of the events were shared with the president and the prime minister and they were requested by the chief minister to attend the programmes as per their convenience. However, he added that the chief minister had particularly urged them both to take part in the Kartarpur Corridor opening at Dera Baba Nanak and the main programme at Sultanpur Lodhi on November 12. "Former PM Dr Manmohan Singh accepts Captain Amarinder Singh's invite to join 1st Jatha to Sri Kartarpur Gurdwara on November 9, will also attend Sultanpur Lodhi main event," media adviser to the Punjab chief minister Raveen Thukral said in a tweet. The Punjab chief minister ruled out a visit to Pakistan for the Kartarpur Corridor opening, making it clear that he would only be leading the first all-party "jatha" to the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara to pay obeisance.
His remarks came in response to questions after a section of the media claimed that Manmohan Singh had accepted Pakistan's invitation and would be going across the border for the Kartarpur Corridor inauguration. The former prime minister had accepted the Punjab chief minister's invitation to join the "jatha", to be led by the latter through the Kartarpur Corridor, to pay obeisance at the historic gurdwara across the border on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev, an official spokesperson pointed out. As far as visiting Pakistan was concerned, the chief minister reiterated that he would not go to the neighbouring country till it stopped cross-border terrorism. He said Punjab was the worst sufferer of Pakistan's cross-border terrorism and he could not even think of going there till it stopped.
Asked if Pakistan was playing a dirty game over the Kartarpur Corridor, the chief minister told the mediapersons to put this question to Imran Khan, the prime minister of the neighbouring country. India, on its part, was fully geared to ensure the security and safety of the pilgrims, he added. Earlier, during his meeting with the prime minister, the chief minister also urged for his personal intervention to facilitate the political clearance to allow the special all-party "jatha" to visit Nankana Sahib in Pakistan, the birth place of the first Sikh guru, on the historic occasion. He requested that a group of 21 persons might be allowed to visit Nankana Sahib to organise a "path" (reading of religious scriptures) on the occasion of the 550th Prakash Purb from October 30 to November 3 and bring a "Nagar Kirtan" to Sultanpur Lodhi via Amritsar (Wagah) later in the day. The "Nagar Kirtan" will arrive at Sultanpur Lodhi in Punjab's Kapurthala district on November 4.
The chief minister has also written to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, seeking a formal clearance for the Nankana Sahib delegation visit and the "Nagar Kirtan" to be brought from Pakistan to Punjab, according to an official spokesperson. Giving details of the key events planned by the state government from November 5 to November 15 in connection with the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev, the chief minister said the flag-off ceremony will be preceded by a brief public meeting of devotees at Dera Baba Nanak. Further, in line with past practice, the Punjab government proposed to organise an all-party meeting from 11 am to 2 pm on November 1 at Sultanpur Lodhi, he added. The complete logistics and security arrangements for this meeting of pilgrims were being made by the state government, he told the prime minister and the president, extending a warm invitation on behalf of his government to them to make this a memorable experience for one and all.
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