NDTV – Dalai Lama to be invited for Guru Nanak’s Birth anniversary: Minister

Sukhjinder Randhawa also said a Panjab government’s delegation is awaiting the Centre’s nod to visit Pakistan later this month to assess the progress of the Kartarpur Corridor project.

Chandighar – Panjab – India, 23 August 2019. Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama will be among a host of dignitaries who will be invited to join the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Sikhism’s founder Guru Nanak Dev, Panjab Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said on Friday.

Mr Randhawa also said a Panjab government’s delegation is awaiting the Centre’s nod to visit Pakistan later this month to assess the progress of the Kartarpur Corridor project.

He said the Panjab delegation of state ministers and MLAs are also supposed to meet Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and the chief minister of the Punjab province of the neighbouring country.

In an informal interaction with reporters, Mr Randhawa said the Dalai Lama, 83, a globally revered figure and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, will be among a host of religious and spiritual leaders who will be invited to join the celebrations in November.

“The Dalai Lama has been requested to join the celebrations. Besides, other top religious leaders from various faiths will also be invited,” he said.

Asked how soon will the Punjab government delegation visit Pakistan, Mr Randhawa replied, “As soon as our government gives us the permission. The day we get permission from the Centre we will go.”

Commenting on the ongoing work on the Kartapur Corridor, Mr Randhawa said, “The work is still slow on our side. I had met secretary, Border Management in the Ministry of Home Affairs, and told him that we need to speed up work on our side. He assured that manpower will be doubled and work will be expedited.”

In a major initiative last November, both India and Pakistan agreed to set up the Kartarpur Corridor to link the historic Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, the final resting place of Guru Nanak Dev, to Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur.

Kartarpur Sahib is located in Pakistan’s Narowal district across the Ravi river, about four kilometres from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine.

Pakistan is building the corridor from the Indian border to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, while the other part from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur up to the border is being constructed by India.

The corridor will be opened in November on the occasion of 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/dalai-lama-to-be-invited-for-guru-nanaks-birth-anniversary-minister-2089529

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.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/kashmir-issue-pakistan-expels-indian-envoy-suspends-bilateral-trade/article28864283.ece?homepage=true

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”.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/pakistan-pm-fm-send-congratulatory-letters-to-narendra-modi-and-jaishankar/article27659614.ece

BBC News – Pakistan PM Khan : Kashmir issue ‘cannot keep boiling’

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has told the BBC that peace with India over the disputed territory of Kashmir would be “tremendous” for the wider region.

Mr Khan, a former cricketer who became leader eight months ago, said the nuclear-armed neighbours could only settle their differences with dialogue.

The comments come as India prepares to vote in a general election, weeks after an upsurge of violence in Kashmir.

A suicide attack against Indian forces triggered cross-border air strikes.

Asked what message he wanted to send to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his country, Mr Khan told the BBC’s John Simpson that the Kashmir issue “has to be settled” and “cannot keep boiling like it is”.

“The number-one tasks of the two governments is how are we going to reduce poverty and the way we reduce poverty is by settling our differences through dialogue and there is only one difference, which is Kashmir,” he said.

India’s prime minister has used anti-Pakistan rhetoric and stressed national-security themes during his re-election campaign.

Many see the election as a referendum on the polarising politics of his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Voting will open on Thursday and continue into May.

Irresponsible

Mr Khan also spoke about the dangers of confrontation between the two neighbours.

“Once you respond, no-one can predict where it can go from there,” he said.

If India had “come back and then again attacked Pakistan, Pakistan would have no choice but to respond,” he added.

“So in that situation, two nuclear-armed countries, I just felt it was very irresponsible.”

Also read :Hand of friendship’ on election eve

Analysis by the BBC’s world affairs editor John Simpson

Also read : Why is there tension over Kashmir?

The published article and the two items mentioned above can be found at:

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-47869921

NDTV – “Hope India Will Respond Positively To Kartarpur Corridor”: Pakistan PM

The Sikh community has responded very positively to the effort to open the Kartarpur border, Pakistan PM Imran Khan

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 06 December 2018. Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Pakistan Army on Thursday hoped that India will respond “positively” to Pakistan’s “goodwill gesture” of opening the Kartarpur border for the Sikh pilgrims.

On 28 November Mr Khan laid the foundation stone of the Kartarpur corridor on the Pakistani side while on 26 November Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh laid its foundation stone in Punjab’s Gurdaspur.

The corridor will connect Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak Dev’s final resting place in Pakistan’s Kartarpur to the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district in India, fulfilling a long-pending demand of the Sikh community.

Addressing the Cabinet, Mr Khan said: “Unfortunately the Indian media has given Kartarpur (border opening) a political colour, as if we did this to gain some sort of political mileage… This is not true. We did it because it is part of (the ruling) Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s manifesto,” he said.

“We have religious sites that are important for Hindus and Buddhists; we should open them up and facilitate the people,” Mr Khan said, without explaining.

The Sikh community has responded very positively to the effort to open the Kartarpur border, he said.

“It is to them (Sikhs) what Medina is to us Muslims. We hope that India will also respond positively in return,” the Prime Minister said.

In a separate press conference in Rawalpindi, Director General Major General Asif Ghafoor of army’s media wing Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said Pakistan has taken several positive initiatives for peace with India, and the latest one was the groundbreaking of the Kartarpur corridor.

Mr Ghafoor said that the corridor will be constructed in six months after which 4,000 Sikh pilgrims will be able to visit daily.

“It will be a one-way corridor from the Indian side to Kartarpur, and the Sikh pilgrims will remain restricted to Kartarpur,” the officer added.

Mr Ghafoor also raised concern over the increasing ceasefire violations on the Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary allegedly by the Indian forces, saying 55 civilians have been killed in cross-border aggression this year, the highest in history.

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/pak-pm-imran-khan-says-hope-india-will-respond-positively-to-kartarpur-corridor-1958903

The Hindustan Times – Not in Pakistan’s interest to let its soil be used for terrorism: Imran Khan

Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan was speaking to Indian journalists at the Prime Minister’s Office in Islamabad.

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 29 November 2018. It is not in Pakistan’s interest to allow anyone to use our soil for terrorism, Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Thursday, a day after he underscored unanimity within the country’s civilian and military leadership for better ties with India at the Kartarpur corridor event.

Khan, who spoke to a group of visiting Indian journalists at the Prime Minister’s office, said Pakistan could only try.

“We can try but the rest is up to India. What else can we do,” Imran Khan, who completes 100 days of his government today, said.

India has refused to resume talks with Pakistan, demanding that its neighbour first stop sponsoring terrorism in India.

Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj had this week made it clear that India’s participation at a possible SAARC Summit in Islamabad would also depend on Pakistan’s approach towards terror and the Kartarpur corridor gesture wasn’t enough to resume bilateral dialogue.

In the past, Islamabad has suggested that India’s reluctance on resumption of dialogue was dictated the ruling BJP-led national coalition’s political compulsions ahead of next year’s general elections.

Imran Khan alluded to this perception on Thursday as well. Pakistan, he said, is willing to wait till after the Indian elections for any gesture from Delhi for resumption of bilateral relations.

Asked about the action taken by Islamabad against 26/11 Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed, Prime Minister Khan said there were United Nations sanctions against his group.

“There is a clampdown on him,” he said. As for the Mumbai terror attacks case, PM Khan said the case is in court and the matter is sub judice”.

Imran Khan said people in Pakistan want peace with India.

“The mindset of people here has changed,” Khan said, according to news agency PTI.

Imran Khan said he had spoken to Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier and I would be happy to talk to him anytime. He remembers his first conversation with him as a “very good conversation”.

At his Kartarpur corridor event speech, Imran Khan had stressed that a “determined leadership” is needed in both countries to settle the Kashmir issue. The reference to Kashmir had riled New Delhi that hit back, condemning Khan’s effort to politicise “a pious occasion” with his mention of Kashmir.

Imran Khan said India needs to look at Kashmir differently and not as a territorial issue. Military solution and the use of force hasn’t worked in Kashmir, Khan said, adding that if nothing else, “we want the government of India to do something for the people of Kashmir”.

http://www.indiapress.org/gen/news.php/The_Hindustan_Times/400×60/0

The Asian Age – Determination necessary to solve Kashmir issue with India: Imran Khan

Imran Khan said political leaders, army, all are on one page and wish to move forward for civilised relationship with India.

Kartarpur – Pakistan/New Delhi – India, 28 November 2018. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said Pakistan wants a “strong” and “civilised” relationship with India and the two countries can resolve all issues, including Kashmir, with determination as he laid the foundation stone for a historic corridor linking two revered gurdwaras on both sides of the border.

The much-awaited corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur, the final resting place of Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak Dev, with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Gurdaspur district and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur.

Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan is located across the river Ravi, about four kilometres from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine. It was established in 1522 by Guru Nanak Dev who is believed to have spent 18 years here.

The first Gurdwara, Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, was built in Kartarpur, where Guru Nanak is said to have died.

“We want to move forward in our relations with India,” Imran Khan said while addressing the ceremony which was attended by Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, government officials, Union ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri and foreign diplomats.

“If France and Germany who fought several wars can live in peace, why can’t India and Pakistan,” Imran Khan said.

He said Pakistan and India cannot understand the opportunities God has given to them.

Imran Khan said whenever he visited India, he was told that politicians are united, but the Army won’t allow the friendship between the two sides.

“I am saying today, that our political leaders, our army, and all other institutions are all on one page. We wish to move forward, we want a civilised relationship. We have just one problem, Kashmir. If man can walk on the moon, what problems are there that we cannot resolve?” Imran Khan asked.

“I assure you that we can solve this problem. But determination and big dreams are necessary. Imagine, once trade begins, once our relationship is fixed, how much both nations could benefit,” he said and reiterated that if India takes one step forward, Pakistan will take two steps forward in friendship.

Imran Khan said that there have been “mistakes on both sides” and asserted that the two sides should not live in the past.

“Where Pakistan and India stand today, we have seen such a situation for 70 years now,” Imran Khan said.

“We will stay stuck this way unless we break the shackles of the past and stop blaming each other,” he said, adding that the two neighbours must improve their ties.

He said the citizens of both countries want peace and it is just the leadership which needs to be on same page.

The Pakistan prime minister appreciated the joy on the faces around him.

“The happiness I see in you today, if I were to explain to my Muslim brother and sisters, is that imagine that you are standing 4-km outside Medina (a city in Saudi Arabia where the Prophet is buried) and cannot go in, and you are then given the chance to go. That is the happiness I see here.”

He assured the Sikh community that facilities at Kartarpur Sahib will be even better for 550th birth celebrations for Guru Nanak Dev next year.

“We will keep improving the Kartarpur darbar for you,” Imran Khan told thousand of Sikh pilgrims from both India and Pakistan who were present at the ceremony.

Imran Khan said India and Pakistan need more steps like this (Kartarpur Corridor) for peace in the South Asian region.

The Kartarpur Corridor, which will facilitate the visa-free travel of Indian Sikh pilgrims to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, is expected to be completed within six months.

Thousands of Sikh devotees from India visit Pakistan every year to celebrate the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.

India had proposed the corridor to Pakistan around 20 years back.

Punjab cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who also attended the ceremony, said there had been enough violence and that the corridor would be a major opportunity to bring peace to the region.

Harsimrat Kaur, who also spoke on the occasion, said if the Berlin Wall can fall, hatred and mistrust between India and Pakistan can also end.

An emotional Kaur said the corridor will bring joy and peace to both countries.

Last week, Pakistan and India announced that they would develop the corridor on their respective side of the border to help Indian pilgrims visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur.

India-Pakistan ties nose-dived in recent years with no bilateral talks taking place. The ties between the two countries had strained after the terror attacks by Pakistan-based groups in 2016.

Pakistan had invited External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who thanked her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi for the invite and said she was unable to travel to Kartarpur Sahib due to prior commitments.

The issue of Kartarpur Sahib came into focus after Sidhu visited Pakistan in August to attend the oath-taking ceremony of his cricketer-turned-politician friend Imran Khan as prime minister of that country.

After his return, Sidhu said that Pakistan Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa had told him that Pakistan may open a corridor to Kartarpur Sahib.

http://www.asianage.com/india/all-india/281118/determination-necessary-to-solve-kashmir-issue-with-india-imran-khan.html

The New Indian Express – Pakistan president Arif Alvi, PM Imran Khan reiterate support to people of Jammu and Kashmir

In his message, Alvi said “the United Nations Security Council, through several of its resolutions, has validated the Kashmiris’ right to decide their future through a fair and impartial plebiscite”.

Islamabad Capital Region – Pakistan, 28 October 2018. President Dr Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday reiterated Pakistan’s diplomatic and political support for the just cause of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the official media reported.

In his message, Alvi said “the United Nations Security Council, through several of its resolutions, has validated the Kashmiris’ right to decide their future through a fair and impartial plebiscite”.

Khan said Pakistan would not relent in its moral, political and diplomatic support until the Kashmiris realise their legitimate right to self-determination in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions, Radio Pakistan reported as the country observed ‘Black Day’ to demand the right to self-determination for the people in the Valley.

He called for immediate implementation of the recommendation to set up a UN Commission of Inquiry to investigate alleged human rights abuses in Kashmir.

http://www.newindianexpress.com/world/2018/oct/28/pakistan-president-arif-alvi-pm-imran-khan-reiterate-support-to-people-of-jammu-and-kashmir-1890901.html