Kartarpur: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday said giving justice to the people of Indian Kashmir would open the door for better ties between the two countries on a day they launched the Kartarpur corridor to allow Indian pilgrims to cross into Pakistan to visit a revered shrine.

Addressing several thousand devotees who had assembled at the Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara, Khan nevertheless said he hoped that the opening of the corridor “is the beginning" of ties turning a corner.

Khan focussed a major part of his speech on the situation in Indian Kashmir, which he said had become more than a territorial issue.

“Today what’s happening in Kashmir is beyond a territorial issue. It’s a human rights issue. It is an issue of humanity," Khan said.

The reference was to India revoking Article 370 of its Constitution that conferred special status on the region on 5-6 August. India had also cut off communication links, detained some political leaders and enforced restrictions on the movements of people, which had resulted in a heightening of tensions with Pakistan.

“All our relations are at a halt. If (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi is listening to me, I would say justice (for the Kashmiris) brings peace. Give justice to the Kashmiris," he said.

On the opening of the corridor, Khan said he was happy to open the corridor for the benefit of the Sikhs all over the world.

Khan also took a swipe at Modi saying that leaders were those who brought people together. “Leaders are those who do not use hatred to win votes," Khan said.

Khan’s critical views notwithstanding, the US on Saturday welcomed the opening of the corridor.

“.@StateDept welcomes the opening of a new border crossing between #India & #Pakistan, the Kartarpur corridor. This corridor is a step towards promoting greater #religiousfreedom. Best wishes to the pilgrims making the crossing for the 550th anniversary of Guru Nanak’s birth," state department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.

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