In what may put Congress on a sticky wicket, Pakistan on Monday extended an invitation to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to join the inauguration function of the Kartarpur Corridor. Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the country will send him a formal invitation too. "He (Manmohan Singh) represents the Sikh community as well," Qureshi said.
The invitation to the former PM comes at a time when India and Pakistan are locked in a bitter war of words over the abrogation of Article 370. The two countries came to blows at the recently concluded United Nations General Assembly session as well. While Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said there will be a bloodbath in Kashmir when India lifts the curfew, Indian representative hit back saying his language was an example of "brinkmanship and not statesmanship."
On September 19, Pakistan announced that the much-awaited Kartarpur corridor will be opened for Indian Sikh pilgrims on November 9.
The announcement was made during the maiden visit of local and foreign journalists to the proposed Kartarpur corridor in Narowal, some 125 km from Lahore amid a fresh spell of tension in Jammu and Kashmir.
Project Director Atif Majid told the visiting journalists that so far 86 per cent of the work on the corridor has been completed and it will be opened on November 9. Majid said the development work will be completed by next month.
The corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district of Punjab and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, which was established in 1522 by Sikh faith founder Guru Nanak Dev.
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 Punjab's Gurdaspur district up to the border will be constructed by India.
Both countries have agreed that Pakistan would allow 5,000 Sikh visitors per day into the country through the corridor, which will also be the first visa-free corridor between the two neighbours since their independence in 1947.
(With inputs from PTI)