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New Delhi Correspondent
Indian Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab state Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday jointly laid the foundation stone a cross-border pilgrimage corridor that is expected to take Sikhs to a historic shrine in Pakistan built in memory of the founder of their religion Guru Nanak Dev.
Speaking on the occasion, Naidu said the corridor “will be the bridge between the people of the two countries who have so much in common. The corridor will open new ways and possibilities for us.”
“We are happy that Pakistan has accepted our demand. Now, we don’t have to go via Attari to visit the shrine at Kartarpur (in Pakistan),” he said.
The Indian Vice President said “some people are using religion to spread terrorism. But no religion has anything to do with terrorism. India never attacks any country. We don’t want to attack anyone. We want good relations with neighbours.
“Our PM had called all our neighbours for his oath-taking ceremony. He had also visited Lahore to attend a personal function without an invite. Some people have been using religion to attack us. It is not helpful to anyone. Our main challenges are to fight illiteracy and hunger. People want peace and harmony. It is only possible if both sides are working in synchronisation,” Naidu said.
He said India wants co-existence with its neighbours. Former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee had said we can change our friend but not neighbours. I hope that today’s step will lead us to a peaceful life.
To mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev next year, India last week decided to build the Kartarpur road corridor up to the international border between India and Pakistan to let Sikh pilgrims visit the gurudwara on the banks of the river Ravi in Pakistan.
Earlier, speaking on the occasion, India’s Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said the corridor construction work on the Indian side will be completed in four months.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will inaugurate the ground-breaking ceremony of the corridor on the territory of his country on November 28
Also speaking at the foundation stone-laying function, Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh attacked the Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Ahmad Bajwa and said “there are people like Bajwa who want to create disturbances. I will not allow such conspiracies. Bajwa should wake up. Only the Army runs the government in Pakistan. The Pakistan PM should control the Army and ISI. We have a bigger army than Pakistan. There is a limit of tolerance.
Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj Amarinder Singh was invited by Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi to attend the ground-breaking ceremony of the same corridor on the Pakistan on November 28 but both to declined to attend it.
Amarinder said “people are telling me on Facebook to go to Pakistan. But I can’t go until there is peace.”
“Stop the attacks on Indian soil. This is why I am not going on to Pakistan despite an invitation from them. As a Sikh, I wanted to attend the Pakistan ceremony. But I am also the CM of Punjab.”
The foundation stone for the corridor on the Indian was laid on a day when India is observing the completion of a decade of a deadly attack by 10 Pakistan-based terrorists on Mumbai on November 26, 2008 killing 166, including 18 security personnel, and injuring several others, besides damaging property worth crores.