India's Sushma Swaraj excuses herself from attending Kartarpur border corridor ceremony

11:01 PM | 24 Nov, 2018
India's Sushma Swaraj excuses herself from attending Kartarpur border corridor ceremony
NEW DELHI - Sushma Swaraj, India's Minister for External Affairs, on Saturday excused herself from attending the Kartarpur border corridor groundbreaking ceremony, being held by Pakistan later this month.

Responding to Pakistan's invitation to attend the event, the Indian foreign minister thanked his counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi for inviting her. She said other ministers will attend the ceremony on the behalf of India.

In a letter, Swaraj wrote, "Due to my prior commitments, including election campaign scheduled in the State of Telangana on that day, I would not be able to travel to Kartarpur Shaib".

She added, "We will be sending Smt Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Minister for Food Processing Industries, and Shri Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State (IC) for Housing & Urban Affairs, as Government of India's representatives for the event".

In a tweet, the Indian foreign minister said: "We hope that the Government of Pakistan will expedite construction of the corridor in order to ensure that our citizens can pay their respects at the Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib using the corridor as soon as possible".

Earlier today, Qureshi sent invitations to Sushma Swaraj, Indian Punjab's Chief Minister Captain (retd) Amarinder Singh and former Indian cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu to attend the ceremony planned for November 28, 2018.

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The Pakistani foreign minister also said that Pakistan’s positive attitude is in front of all the world, adding that they are following the policy given by Prime Minister Imran Khan in his victory speech after winning the general elections on July 26.

India on Thursday gave the go-ahead to Pakistan’s proposal to build Kartarpur corridor to facilitate Sikh pilgrims wishing to visit the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Narowal District.

The Gurdwara Kartarpur Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Narowal city holds religious significance for the Sikh community. It is the place where Baba Guru Nanak settled down after his travels as a missionary.

The decision to open the Kartarpur border was made after Imran Khan assumed office in August; Navjot Singh Sidhu was invited for the swearing-in ceremony of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief.

During the ceremony, Navjot Sidhu had called for reopening the corridor, however, he faced flak back home for cordially meeting Pakistan’s Army Chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Prime Minister Imran Khan would formally open the Kartarpur border on November 28th along with other government functionaries.