Chandigarh, Sept. 7 (TNS): Indian Punjab local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu claimed on Friday that Pakistan has decided to allow Sikh pilgrims direct access to the historic Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, situated barely 3km from the border in Gurdaspur.
The minister’s claim, based on a media report, comes a day after the Pakistan army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa hailed freedom struggle in occupied Kashmir and vowed to avenge the deaths of his country’s soldiers during his speech on the occasion of Pakistan’s Defence and Martyrs’ Day.
Sidhu refused to comment on Pakistan army chief’s remarks and pushed for talks with Islamabad.
“A decision to open the Kartarpur corridor has been taken by Pakistan PM Imran Khan after consultations with various stakeholders,” Sidhu asserted.
“They are prepared to open the Kartarpur corridor on the occasion of Guru Nank Dev’s 550th birth anniversary,” he said, adding that a formal announcement to this effect will be made by Pakistan soon.
He further claimed that the Sikh pilgrims may not require a visa to undertake the pilgrimage. He was apparently referring to the comments attributed to Pakistan Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, who also urged resumption of the dialogue between the two countries.
Sidhu added that Pakistan was awaiting a positive reply from India for dates for the talks.
“I thank my friend Imran Khan for this noble goodwill gesture. He has not walked two steps but miles and opened the doors for infinite possibilities. I am indebted forever,” he said.
Referring to the purported move by the Pakistan, he said this was a signal from the neighbouring nation, and appealed the Centre to reciprocate.
“Pakistan has sent a message of friendship,” he said.
“Following the path of peace is the only way to resolve issues. Talks can bring prosperity to the region,” he said.
“India should see this as a goodwill gesture. The desperation for a dialogue is visible from the Pakistan side,” he said.
Defending his hug with Bajwa, Sidhu had said last month that he was overwhelmed when he was told that Pakistan was making an effort to allow access to Kartarpur Sahib.