PM Imran Khan’s message for Narendra Modi: Justice leads to peace – Injustice breeds anarchy

Faizan Bangash & Sher Ali Khalti

Kartarpur – Panjab – Pakistan, 10 November 2019. With the opening of Kartarpur Corridor in Pakistan, the Sikh community in India has been provided easy and direct access to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, the final resting place of Guru Nanak Devji.

Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, situated in Kartarpur (Shakargarh, Narowal), is the second holiest place for the Sikh community.

While inaugurating the Kartarpur Corridor here on Saturday, Prime Minister Imran Khan termed it a gift for the Sikh community all-over the world, especially those living in India, from the people and Government of Pakistan. He welcomed thousands of Sikh pilgrims from India in Pakistan and urged Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to resolve the Kashmir issue through dialogue.

Urging his Indian counterpart to give justice to Kashmiris, PM Imran said prosperity in South Asia region was only possible if Kashmir issue was resolved. “It’s just a beginning; let’s hope the relationship between India and Pakistan becomes like it should have been,” added the PM. The premier said Narendra Modi must know that justice brings peace and hatred causes chaos in a society.

He said a leader was the one who brings people together and doesn’t divide them to get their votes through spread of hatred. “When I was elected as the prime minister, I told (Narendra) Modi our biggest problem is poverty.

I told him that if we open our borders, mutual trade will eliminate poverty,” Imran Khan said while addressing the people of both countries at Kartarpur Corridor. He called upon Indian premier to give justice to the people of occupied Kashmir.

Imran said, “Eight million people in occupied Kashmir are being treated like animals. They have been brought under forcible rule of 900,000 Indians troops.” He warned Modi to end injustice as such decisions bring chaos.

He urged the Indian premier to give justice to the people of occupied Kashmir and liberate the Subcontinent. He said the problem of occupied Kashmir had gone beyond a dispute over territory and became a human rights issue.

Once justice was done to Kashmiris and their right to self-determination was given to them, situation of the entire region would improve. “Look at Germany and France, both countries fought wars and killed thousands. Today, their borders are open and trade has brought progress to the region.”

Imran Khan said that justice was only reflected in society of human beings and urged the Indian PM to rid the region of the dispute of Kashmir. The PM also recalled the role of great African statesman Nelson Mandela for playing the role of a leader for his country and uniting the people.

Appreciating the teachings of Baba Guru Nanak Devji in his speech, he said: “There is humanity in the philosophy of Guru Nanak. Humanity is what separates human beings from animals. Our God also talks about humanity and our Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was sent as a blessing for all mankind.”

The PM congratulated the government officials and ministers over swift and on-time completion of the Kartarpur Corridor project. He said, “I learnt a year ago about the value of Kartarpur Sahib. This is the Madina for the Sikhs of the world.”

He said that the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) and other departments and ministries concerned worked diligently and completed the project in just 10 months. He said he did not know fully how efficient and capable his government was.

Addressing the ceremony, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said it was a historic moment for Sikhs. “Imran Khan has created history with Kartarpur Corridor; Kartarpur has been opened for Sikhs from all over the world,” he added.

The foreign minister congratulated the Sikh all over the world on opening of the Kartarpur Corridor and welcomed the Sikh pilgrims present at their holy site. He said, “The doors of Kartarpur Sahib are open for the Sikh community.”

The foreign minister said “we need to see today who was sowing the seeds of hatred in the region”. He congratulated Prime Minister Imran Khan on the opening of the historic corridor.

Qureshi said, “09 November was also the day when the Berlin Wall fell, which changed the map of Europe”.

The foreign minister said, “If the Kartarpur Corridor can open, then the LoC’s temporary closure can also be ended.”

He said that the way the doors of Kartarpur have been opened, the doors of Srinagar’s Jama mosque should also be opened so that Muslims could pray the Friday prayers there.

Even Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was also forced to thank Prime Minister Imran Khan over opening of the Kartarpur Corridor. Speaking at an event, Modi said Prime Minister Imran had understood the emotions of the Indian people. “I would like to thank the prime minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, for understanding the sentiments of the people of India,” he said.

He said that it had become easier for Sikh pilgrims to go to Guru Nanak’s Gurdwara because of the corridor. “I would like to thank the authorities in Pakistan who helped create this corridor in a short span of time,” he said.

“Imran Khan has made history,” said Navjot Singh Sidhu at the inaugural ceremony of Kartarpur Corridor. He termed it an ointment on the wounds of people who witnessed bloodshed during the Partition.

He called Imran Khan the ‘king of hearts’. He said Alexander the Great had won hearts of people because of fear, while Imran Khan won hearts of people by promoting peace.

He thanked Imran Khan for taking a bold step. He said for the first time in the history, boundaries between the two countries have been dismantled. “No one can deny the contribution of Imran Khan,” said Sidhu and sent Munna Bhai MBBS’s hug for Modi.

He demanded opening of borders so that people could have their breakfast in India, their lunch in Lahore and then return to their homes in India after completing their trade and business tasks.

Former Indian prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Chief Minister of Indian Punjab Captain Amarinder Singh, Bollywood actor and Indian parliamentarian Sunny Deol, Panjab CM Sardar Usman Buzdar, Panjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar and other noted figures were also present on the occasion.

Sikh Yatris from different cities of India including Amristsar, Ambala, Patiala, Jalandhar, Gurdaspur, Chandigarh, Delhi as well as from different nations like Canada, USA, France, England, Sweden were present at the inauguration ceremony.

While expressing their views, Yatris unanimously hailed the project and expressed the hope that further relaxation would also be given to them so that they could visit Panjab as per their will.

Besides, the Sikh community members from Pakistan including former MPA Ramesh Singh Arora, sitting MPA Mahender Pal Singh and others also lauded the role of Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa in successful completion of the project.

Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Pir Noorul Haq Qadri also addressed the ceremony.

He said the inauguration of Kartarpur Corridor was the greatest message of peace after the Partition in 1947. He said the prime minister had fulfilled his commitment to provide access to Sikh community to visit their holy shrines.

He said while being in Baghdad, Baba Guru Nanak used to visit the shrine of Imam Musa Kazim daily which gave a message of harmony as he had devoted his life for peace and harmony.

The Akal Takht Jathedar, Giani Harpreet Singh said by opening of Kartarpur Corridor, the 70-year old demand of Sikhs had been fulfilled for what they were thankful to both the governments.

The Hindu – Ready to open Kartarpur Corridor, says Pakistan

Despite our tensions with India, we have decided go ahead, says Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 23 August 2019. Pakistan on Friday said that despite tensions with India, it stands ready to open the Kartarpur Corridor and welcome the Sikh pilgrims to take part in celebrations in connection with the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said this while speaking to a delegation of civil society and parliamentarians of Afghanistan, which is currently visiting Pakistan for the ‘Track-II dialogue, Beyond Boundaries’

Tension between India and Pakistan has escalated after New Delhi revoked Article 370 of the Constitution which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories on August 5.

“Despite our tensions with India, we have decided go ahead with Kartarpur Corridor and we stand ready to welcome the Sikh pilgrims for the 550th anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak,” Mr. Qureshi told the delegation.

Connecting Karturpur with Gurdaspur

The Kartarpur corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, which was established in 1522 by Guru Nanak Dev.

Pakistan is building the corridor from the Indian border to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib while the other part from Dera Baba Nanak up to the border will be constructed by India.

Mr Qureshi also told the delegation that current tension with India will not affect Pakistan’s relationship with Afghanistan. Border (with Afghanistan) will not be closed nor trade will stop.

“Despite tensions with India, Pakistan is totally focused on the situation and its role in Afghanistan. It (Kashmir situation) can be a huge distraction but we are very clear what we need to do in Afghanistan”, he added while responding to a question if escalation of tension with India can distract Pakistan.

Mr Qureshi told the delegation that he had invited the Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan’s and China for a trilateral meeting. The Foreign Minister will come to Pakistan in the first week of September for the talks, he added.

The Hindu – Kashmir issue: Pakistan expels Indian envoy, suspends bilateral trade

Islamabad has also decided to review bilateral arrangements with New Delhi and to take the Kashmir issue to the U.N. Security Council.

Mehmal Sarfraz

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 07 August 2019. Pakistan announced August 7 that it is expelling the Indian High Commissioner and suspending bilateral trade with New Delhi, days after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, AFP has reported.

“We will call back our ambassador from Delhi and send back their envoy”, AFP reported Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi as announcing in televised comments.

Meanwhile, a government statement declared that Pakistan will suspend trade in a downgrading of diplomatic ties. The decision was taken at a meeting of the National Security Committee chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan at his office in Islamabad.

According to the official Twitter account of the Government of Pakistan (@pid_gov), the NSC has decided to downgrade diplomatic relations with India, suspend bilateral trade, review bilateral arrangements and take the Kashmir issue to the UN, including the Security Council.

The Committee has also decided to observe August 14, Pakistan’s Independence Day, “in solidarity with brave Kashmiris”. The ruling party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) wrote on Twitter that August 15 will be observed as “Black Day”.

“PM has also directed all diplomatic channels to be activated in order to expose brutal Indian racist regime, design and human rights violations. PM directed Pakistani Armed Forces to continue vigilance,” tweeted the party.

The meeting was attended by the Foreign Minister, Defence Minister, Minister for Human Rights, Army chief, DG ISI, DG ISPR and several other senior officials of the military and the government.

The Hindu – Pakistan PM, FM send congratulatory letters to Narendra Modi and Jaishankar

Letters follow a phone call from Imran Khan to Mr. Modi, as well as an exchange of tweets between the two leaders after the election results.

Suhasini Haidar

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 07 June 2019. Days after the formation of the National Democratic Alliance government, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to congratulate him on his victory, while Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has written a letter to his Indian counterpart Minister for External Affairs S. Jaishankar, congratulating him on his appointment as well, sources in Delhi and Islamabad confirmed.

The letters follow a phone call from Mr Khan to Mr Modi, as well as an exchange of tweets between the two leaders after the election results.

The letters, which New Delhi hasn’t yet responded to, conveyed official greetings as well as a hope that India-Pakistan bilateral ties will improve in the future. They were both handed over to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad earlier this week.

According to Pakistani diplomatic sources, the letters sought “peace and stability in South Asia with the peaceful resolution of all outstanding issues, including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute,” as well as “collective endeavours” for regional peace and prosperity, a possible reference to a SAARC summit, which Pakistan is keen to organise, but India has refused to attend.

The past few weeks have seen tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad rise over the tit for tat surveillance and harassment of their guests at ‘Iftar’ functions in each other’s capital.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) issued a public protest against Pakistani police officials who intimidated guests at the Indian High Commission’s Iftar event at a hotel in Islamabad on June 1, and the Pakistan Foreign Ministry wrote two letters protesting similar actions by Indian security agencies against guests to the Pakistan National Day function on March 23 as well as the Iftar event at the Pakistan High Commission on May 28.

Despite the bitterness on the ground, however, the leaders of both the countries have kept up a steady set of exchanges over the period. Mr Modi wrote a letter to Mr Khan ahead of the Pakistan National Day, saying it was “time for the people of the sub-continent to work together for a democratic, peaceful, progressive and prosperous region, in an atmosphere free of terror and violence.”

Mr Khan welcomed the letter, calling for dialogue between the two countries. After the BJP’s win, Mr Khan telephoned Mr Modi to congratulate him.

The conversation, which reportedly lasted about 15 minutes according to one source, included the need to improve bilateral ties, India’s “neighbourhood first policy” and a desire to “fight poverty jointly.” Both leaders have also exchanged public messages over twitter.

In addition, former Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan Foreign Minister met for a short “exchange of pleasantries” at the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) Foreign Ministers’ meet in Bishkek in May, when Pakistan made an exception to the ban on flights to and from India to allow Ms Swaraj’s flight to travel through Pakistani airspace.

This week, Pakistan Foreign Secretary Sohail Mohammad, who was High Commissioner to India until last month, was accorded full security and all diplomatic courtesies when he travelled to Delhi on a “personal” visit to celebrate Eid with his family, and accompanied them back to Pakistan.

When asked if all the exchanges were building up to a possible bilateral meeting at the SCO summit in Bishkek on June 13-14 that Mr Khan and Mr Modi will attend, diplomatic officials in both capitals have declined to confirm the possibility of a one-on-one between the two leaders. On Thursday, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said there were no requests or plans for the leaders to meet to the best of his “knowledge”.

Pakistan Today – PTI MPA submits resolution in PA against construction in Kartarpur

Staff Report

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 02 February 2019. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MPA Momina Waheed on Saturday submitted a resolution in the Punjab Assembly Secretariat demanding that no construction be carried around the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib shrine in Kartarpur.

The women lawmaker states in the resolution that the shrine holds a special significance for the Sikh community. “Baba Guru Nanak plowed the fields of Kartarpur Gurdwara for 18 years. No construction should be carried out in the fields where he grew crops.”

Earlier, on 26 January, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had said the government had prepared feasibility report of Kartarpur corridor project and it would spend Rs2 billion on it.

Addressing a public rally in Umerkot, Qureshi said the entire Sikh community was very happy over the opening of Kartarpur corridor and Pakistan had received an overwhelming response on this gesture from the entire world.

Pakistan on 21 January shared a draft agreement for facilitation of Sikh pilgrims with India through the Indian high commission in Islamabad.

The Foreign Office spokesperson said that the government had appointed Director General South Asia Dr Muhammad Faisal as the focal person on Kartarpur and requested that the government of India designate a focal person at its end.

He said that Pakistan also invited the government of India to urgently send a delegation to Islamabad to negotiate and finalise the agreement.

Pakistan took this step to accommodate the longstanding request of the Sikh community, especially from India particularly in view of the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak, the spokesperson added.

Pakistan Today – Foreign Minister Qureshi calls out Indian counterpart for ‘misrepresenting’ remarks

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 02 December 2018. Foreign Minister (FM) Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Sunday accused Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj of “misrepresenting and misleading” by maligning his comments referring to Sikh sentiments.

“What I said was strictly with reference to bilateral interaction with the Indian government. We have deep respect for Sikh sentiments & no amount of distortions or controversies would change it,” he added.

Qureshi also added that the Kartarpur Corridor was opened in deference to “long-standing desires of Sikh brethren”. “We have taken this historic initiative in good faith and will carry it forward in good faith,” he added.

On Thursday, Qureshi had said that the prime minister had put India in a conundrum with the move to open the Kartarpur border corridor. PM Imran had “bowled a googly at India by opening the Kartarpur border corridor”, he had remarked.

Reacting to her Pakistani counterpart’s statement, Sushma had added, “Mr Foreign Minister of Pakistan – Your ‘googly’ remarks in a dramatic manner has exposed none but YOU. This shows that you have no respect for Sikh sentiments. You only play ‘googlies’.”

She had added that Indian ministers had only visited Pakistan to “offer prayers” in the Kartarpur gurdwara.

Dawn – Indian government’s decision to open Kartarpur crossing is ‘victory of peace’: information minister

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 22 November 2018. Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry on Thursday welcomed the Indian cabinet’s announcement to commence the construction of the Kartarpur corridor, calling it a “victory of peace”.

“It is a step towards the right direction and we hope such steps will encourage voice of reasons and tranquillity on both sides of the border,” he said via Twitter.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Pakistan had already informed India of its decision to open the Kartarpur corridor for Baba Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary. “PM Imran Khan will break ground on November 28; we welcome the Sikh community to Pakistan for this auspicious occasion,” added Qureshi.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet decided today to develop the corridor that will enable Sikh pilgrims to visit the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, located in Kartarpur, Narowal district without a visa, the Times of India reported.

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, according to the publication.

Earlier today, Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal had said the government will soon announce “good news about the opening of Kartarpur crossing”.

In August, Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa had told Indian politician Navjot Singh Sidhu that Pakistan would open the Kartarpur crossing “when [the Sikh community] celebrates the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Nanak”, when the latter had visited Islamabad for Prime Minister Imran Khan’s oath-taking ceremony.

The 550th birth anniversary of the revered Sikh figure is next year.

In September, Chaudhry, in an interview to Hindustan Times, reiterated the offer saying that “[the government] wants to formalise the informal proposal the Pakistan army chief made to Sidhu”.

“This is an issue of the ordinary people, Sikhs and other Indian pilgrims, and an issue of faith,” the information minister had said in a phone interview. “They shouldn’t suffer and we want to formalise the informal proposal the Pakistan army chief made to Sidhu.”

On the Pakistani side, various proposals have been discussed and announcements made since the Musharraf era, but lack of interest by the Indian side has kept the proposals confined to cold storage.

Thousands of Sikh devotees from India visit Pakistan every year to celebrate the birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak. This year, for the 549th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak, the Pakistan embassy in New Delhi issued over 3,500 visas to Sikh pilgrims who wished to attend the celebrations that will last for more than a week.

Dawn – Foreign Office confirms talks between Pakistan, Canada over Aasia Bibi

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 13 November 2018. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi discussed Aasia Bibi, recently freed from prison following the overturning of her blasphemy conviction by the Supreme Court, in a phone call with his Canadian counterpart on Monday, Foreign Office (FO) Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal confirmed on Tuesday.

“The Canadian FM appreciated the Supreme Court’s courageous decision and the Prime Minister’s positive speech,” the tweet added.

In a second tweet, the FO spokesperson added: “FM Qureshi said that Aasia Bibi is our national and Pakistan fully respects her legal rights”.

The confirmation of talks between the two governments on the issue came after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday said his government was talking to Pakistan over potentially offering asylum to Aasia Bibi.

“We are in discussions with the Pakistani government,” Trudeau had said in an interview to AFP in Paris, where he was attending a peace conference organised by French President Emmanuel Macron.

“There is a delicate domestic context that we respect which is why I don’t want to say any more about that, but I will remind people Canada is a welcoming country,” he said.

Aasia Bibi has been ‘taken under protection’ by the Pakistani state after the overturning of her conviction prompted a wave of protests by religio-political groups.

After her release from prison, she has been flown to a “safe place”. Several governments have offered to grant her family asylum.

Her husband has appealed in particular to Britain, Canada and the United States, claiming that Aasia Bibi’s life would be in danger as long as she lives in Pakistan.

FM Qureshi meets with Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s sister, discuss possible ways forward for her “repatriation”

FM Qureshi also met Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s sister on Tuesday in Islamabad and informed her about the government’s efforts regarding her sister’s case, Radio Pakistan reported.

Dr Aafia was convicted in 2010 on charges of attempted murder and assault of United States personnel and is serving an 86-year sentence at the Federal Medical Centre, Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas. It is a US federal prison for female inmates of all security levels with special medical and mental health needs.

In a tweet shared on Tuesday, FM Qureshi said that he had asked the Pakistani Consul General in Houston to seek regular consular visits and to “ensure Dr Aafia] Siddiqui’s well being in line with her legal and human rights”.

Qureshi added that he had assured Dr Fauzia Siddiqui of his “full support” and said that the two had also discussed possible ways forward for Dr Aafia’s return.

Dawn – No innocent person be harmed over blasphemy issue, says Alvi

Staff Correspondent

Multan – Panjab – Pakistan, 09 Novrmber 2018. President Arif Alvi has said all the Muslims were ready to scarify their lives for the honor of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), however no innocent person should be harmed over the blasphemy issue.

Addressing the participants of a one-day Sufi conference organised by the Bahauddin Zakariya University’s Islamic Studies Department here on Thursday, the president said Islam propagates protection of rights and the message should be highlighted.

“People should get their rights, and the facilities of justice, education, health, employment and housing should be provided to all the people in Naya Pakistan,” he said.

Foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said there was a need to follow the teachings of saints to improve the country’s image.

He said the PTI government wanted the seminaries’ students to have skill-oriented education to enable them to play a role in the country’s development.

He said the Ulema’s recommendations should be sought to fight extremism.

“The academia from various universities should also be contacted for the same purpose,” he suggested.

Later, talking to the media, the foreign minister said his recent visit to China was fruitful and meetings with the top Chinese leadership were encouraging.

He said the next phase of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was discussed at length with the Chinese leadership. He said a review petition had been filed against the acquittal of Aasia Bibi by Supreme Court.

“According to my information, Aasia Bibi has not been sent abroad. However, the ministry concerned could provide accurate information in this regard,” he said.

He said without considering any internal or external pressure, the legal aspects of Aasia’s case should be focused.