Expressing concern over reports of a `discernible slowdown’ in Pakistan’s activities for the Kartarpur Corridor development, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Sunday urged the neighbouring country not to back out from their commitment on this vital project, which was of supreme religious importance to the Sikh community.
The Chief Minister’s statement came in the backdrop of reports that India was forced to send a reminder to Islamabad to hold meetings to finalise key Kartarpur decisions.
With the momentous 550th birth anniversary of Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji just three months away, any slowdown in the project would lead to its non-completion in time for the historic event, said the Chief Minister, adding that such a move would serve a big blow to the desires and aspirations of the Sikh community, who are hungry for ‘darshan’ of the ‘asthan’ of the place where their 1st Guru had spent many years of his early life.
On the issue of stoppage, by Pakistan, of trade at the Attari-Wagah border, in the wake of its decision to downgrade diplomatic and trade ties with India, Captain Amarinder said political concerns should not be allowed to be clouded by any decision that was detrimental to the interests of the people on both sides.
The stoppage would, in particular, inflict heavy avoidable economic losses for the poor in Pakistan, as the goods would now have to take the long sea route through Iran or Dubai, said the Chief Minister. The trade suspension would also lead to serious loss of jobs and livelihood for thousands of porters, truck/train drivers, staff etc, who are deployed as part of the trade Infrastructure on both sides, he added.
Captain Amarinder termed as `incomprehensible’ the stoppage of trade on the pretext of some action taken by India with respect to a purely internal matter, and urged Islamabad to revoke the trade suspension in the interest of the people on both sides of the border. India, he said, wanted peace, communal harmony and development on the Indo-Pak border, people on both sides of which had suffered immensely due to the continued violence and hostilities.
While reiterating that Kashmir was an internal matter of India, the Chief Minister said Pakistan should not link it with diplomatic or trade ties between the two nations.
The Chief Minister called upon the Indian government to also open diplomatic channels to press Pakistan to resume trade ties. He also urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to announce a special economic package for the development of the border states of Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir to create better job opportunities for their youth. The Centre, he stressed, should also raise additional battalions in the Army, Para-military forces and the State Police for all the border states.