Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Sunday issued a press release saying that he has declined the Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s invitation to attend the foundation stone laying for the Kartarpur Corridor owing to the killings of Indian soldiers by Pakistan armed forces, the terror attacks in his state, including the recent grenade attack in Amritsar, where three men died and 19 people were wounded.
Here is what the press release says:
Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh has declined Pakistan’s Foreign Minister’s invitation to attend the foundation stone laying for the Kartarpur Corridor on the other side of the border, citing continued terrorist attacks in his state and killings of Indian soldiers by Pakistan armed forces. The chief minister stated this in a press release.
In a letter to Pakistan's Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the chief minister has welcomed the historic occasion, which he described as the cherished desire of the Sikhs around the world, but said he must most reluctantly, however, regret his inability to be present.
The chief minister said his reasons for declining the invitation were two-fold. Firstly, not a day passes when Indian soldiers are not killed or wounded on the line of control in Jammu and Kashmir, he said, adding that “Rather than moving towards normalcy these incidents are escalating.” Captain Amarinder pointed out that a few months ago, his battalion lost one Major and two jawans in an ambush laid on the Indian side of the line of control, well within the Indian territory.
Secondly, said the chief minister, the ISI has started its nefarious activities within Punjab and since his government was sworn in, in March 2017, the state had neutralized 19 ISI armed and controlled modules, apprehended 81 terrorists and recovered 79 weapons, in addition to numerous grenades of the HG 84 type made in Pakistan’s Ordnance factories, with Austrian knowhow, along with seizure of some IEDs.
“The last attack was in Amritsar last Sunday, on a peaceful religious congregation in one of our villages, in which 3 men were killed and 19, including women and children, were wounded,” Captain Amarinder further pointed out, adding that both terrorists had since been caught.
“I hope the Prime Minister will understand that under these circumstances it will not be possible for me to be present in Pakistan on this historic occasion, despite the fact that paying my respects at Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib has always been my cherished dream which will hopefully be fulfilled once these hostilities and killings are stopped,” the chief minister has stated.
While thanking Qureshi for the invitation for the ceremony to lay the foundation stone of the proposed corridor linking Gurdwara Sahib Kartarpur to Dera Baba Nanak in Indian Punjab, where Sri Guru Nanak Devji spent the last 18 years of his life, the chief minister recalled his visit to Pakistan, when he had paid his respects at Gurdwara Sri Nankana Sahib and Gurdwara Sri Panja Sahib where his father Maharaja Yadvindra Singh had reconstructed Gurdwara Sri Panja Sahib in 1932.
“As you will see from the stone laid at Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib, it was my grandfather Maharaja Bhupindra Singh who carried out flood protection measures from 1920 to 1929 to protect our Gurdwara which was being ravaged by floods in the river Ravi each year,” he further wrote.
“A visit to Sri Kartarpur Sahib has been a long cherished dream, and I hope once normalcy between our two countries is restored I will be able to do so, when the corridor is complete,” said the chief minister, recalling his own meeting with Qureshi during his Pakistan visit.
In conclusion, the chief minister expressed the hope that the Pakistani PM Imran Khan “will do all he can to bring our two countries together on the road to peace and friendship.”