MULTAN: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has announced that former Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh has accepted his invitation to attend the Kartarpur corridor inauguration ceremony, scheduled for Nov 9, albeit as a common man rather than as a special guest.
“He is welcome even as a common participant,” the foreign minister said while talking to the media on Saturday.
Mr Qureshi said Prime Minister Imran Khan would inaugurate Pakistan’s part of the corridor, facilitating pilgrimage of 5,000 Indian Sikhs everyday to their holy place. India was initially reluctant to open the corridor but due to public pressure from the Indian Punjab, New Delhi decided to arrange a ceremony related to the corridor the same day, he said, adding that the arrangements made by Pakistan were way better than those being finalised by India.
Earlier Indian Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh in an announcement on Oct 3 stated that the former Indian premier Dr Manmohan Singh would visit the Guru Nanak celebrations in Pakistan on his invitation, an indirect way of saying that Pakistan’s invitation to the Indian leader was not a factor. According to NDTV, Dr Singh will visit the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan for the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak as part of an all-party group.
About Pakistan’s efforts to defuse tensions in the Gulf region, the foreign minister said that both Saudi Arabia and Iran had agreed to resolve their differences through dialogue. He explained: “Some forces are active to damage the unity of Muslim ummah, but it is in the ummah’s interest that the differences are resolved through negotiations.”
He also underlined the need for restoration of peace to the neighbouring Afghanistan and said Pakistan condemned the recent blast in Nangarhar mosque that claimed precious lives. “To restore peace in Afghanistan, there is a need to stop violence,” he said.
Mr Qureshi said India failed to get Pakistan blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and expressed the hope that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government would achieve all FATF targets to get the country out of grey list.
He explained that Pakistan had been given various tasks till February 2020 that the incumbent government would achieve and bring the country out of grey list. He said the FATF recognised the steps taken by the government to control money laundering and terror financing.
The foreign minister said the world had neglected India’s point of view on Kashmir and international civil society were demanding lifting of curfew and end to human rights violations in India-held Kashmir. Pakistan would observe Black Day on Oct 27, the day when India had occupied Kashmir, he said, urging the opposition parties to avoid any steps that could strengthen the Indian point of view.
Referring to the anti-government protest being planned by the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) on Oct 31, Mr Qureshi said people would never become part of any political instability in the country. He said there was no chance for imposition of a martial law, as the democracy had a bright future, with the masses being well aware about the regional situation and the happenings in Kashmir.
Avoiding to answer the question about any plans for the arrest of JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the foreign minister said the government would treat participants in the ‘Azadi march’ as such a situation was dealt in democracy.
“There is the Constitution and law in the country and we all are bound to act upon them. Flourishing good political traditions is a good deed. We will try that Maulana should express whatever he wants to do in a peaceful way as it is their right, but there is [cap] on the capacity of militia or a [private] force armed with clubs in the Constitution,” he said.
Mr Qureshi said there was always space for negotiations in politics expressed the hope that both sides would have the courage to listen to the point of view of each other.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan has constituted a team, headed by Pervez Khattak, to negotiate with the JUI-F and we should take it positive. I would request the Maulana that he should not take a step that gives strength to the enemies of Pakistan.
“Delhi is much happy due to the prevailing political situation in Pakistan as India thinks that if Pakistan will engage in its internal affairs it will suit India. Due to the prevailing situation in Kashmir, India is under pressure and wants an issue in Pakistan to divert government attention from Kashmir. We should avoid taking measures that prove harmful for the country’s interest and support the Indian point of view. I am sure that opposition parties have as much sense,” he said.
Published in Dawn, October 20th, 2019