Amarinder declines Pak’s invite to attend ceremony

Amarinder declines Pak’s invite to attend ceremony

Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh with his Cabinet colleague Navjot Singh Sidhu. PTI file photo

Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Sunday declined Pakistan’s invitation to attend the Kartarpur corridor foundation stone-laying ceremony in Pakistan.

He cited Pakistan ISI-sponsored terror attacks in Punjab and killing of Indian soldiers on the border to decline the invitation.

Amarinder formally communicated his regrets to attend the ceremony in a letter to Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Sunday.

His cabinet colleague, Navjot Singh Sidhu, who courted controversy over hugging the Pakistan Army chief during his recent visit to the neighbouring country, however said, “It was with great honour and unalloyed joy that I accept the invitation to attend the ground-breaking ceremony in Pakistan on November 28.”

Sidhu, a former cricketer, is a close friend of Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan.

Amarinder said that his reason for declining the invitation were twofold.

He wrote, “Firstly, not a day passes when Indian soldiers are not killed or wounded on the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir. Rather than moving towards normalcy, these incidents are escalating.”

Secondly, he said, Pakistan’s ISI has started its nefarious activities in Punjab.

“Since March 2017, the state has neutralised 19 ISI-armed and controlled modules, apprehended 81 terrorists and seized 79 weapons, numerous grenades of the HG-84 type made in Pakistan’s Ordnance factories and some IEDs,” he said.

The chief minister said the last attack took place in Amritsar few days ago on a peaceful religious congregation in a village where 3 men were killed and 19, including women and children, were wounded.

His letter to Qureshi said, “I hope that the PM of Pakistan will understand 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”.

Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan will inaugurate the ceremony of the Kartarpur Corridor on the Pakistan side on Wednesday.