Lahore: Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Friday described the Kartarpur corridor that is to be opened on Saturday between India and Pakistan as the corridor of “peace" and “ love."
But he ruled out any thaw in ties between the two countries as a result of the opening of the corridor on Saturday stating that there cannot be any 'bilateral' engagement between India and Pakistan at this stage due to India revoking Article 370 of the Indian constitution in August that revoked the special status conferred on Kashmir.
“There can be no meaningful dialogue between India and Pakistan due to the illegal action that took place on 5 August," Qureshi told a group of Indian journalists visiting Lahore.
Qureshi also clarified that Pakistan will be using passports for identification purposes for the pilgrims coming in from India. Passport will be required as per provision of Kartarpur agreement signed with India: Qureshi, he said.
India and Pakistan last year agreed to construct a corridor connecting Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district of Punjab with Darbar Sahib Gurdwara in Kartarpur in Narowal district. This had been a long-standing demand on the part of Sikhs and others in India given that the Kartarpur Gurudwara is the final resting place of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism.
There has been confusion however over what identity papers the pilgrims should carry after a Twitter post by Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan last week which said that Sikhs would not need passports to make the pilgrimage.
In his remarks, Qureshi also added that $20 fee to be charged for each pilgrim was aimed at improving services at the pilgrimage site. The aim was “not to generate funds" for the maintenance and upkeep of the facilities, he said.
Dismissing apprehensions in India that the corridor could be used to resurrect a Sikh insurgency in Punjab, Qureshi said: “Many are associating sinister designs to it( the corridor). Believe me there are none." He added that the Imran Khan government wanted to promote religious tourism in the country which was one of the main aims of opening the Kartarpur corridor too.
When asked what was the difference between India integrating Kashmir more closely with the rest of the country and Pakistan’s own moves to ensure its laws are applicable in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, Qureshi said India had gone against UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir and also the Simla agreement, which has said the dispute would be sorted out bilaterally with India. “What the people of Kashmir are questioning is the change of status," he said adding that this was a question being asked by the Kashmiri Pandits, the Muslims and Buddhists in Kashmir.
Qureshi added that the international community was not buying India’s argument that the revocation of Article 370 was aimed at the development of Kashmir.