Islamabad, Sep 30: Pakistan has decided to invite former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to attend the inaugural ceremony of the landmark Kartarpur Corridor in November, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Monday.
The corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur in Pakistan with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district of Punjab and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims, who will only have to obtain a permit to visit the revered Kartarpur Sahib.
Pakistan is scheduled to open the Kartarpur Corridor for Indian Sikh pilgrims on November 9, days ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Sikhism founder Baba Guru Nanak on November 12.
“The Kartarpur Corridor inauguration is a big programme and Pakistan is preparing for it in a big way,” Qureshi said, noting that Prime Minister Imran Khan has a personal interest in it.
“After consultations, Pakistan has decided to invite Manmohan Singh to the inauguration, who we hold in high regard. He will represent the Sikh community,” he said.
Pakistan has agreed to allow 5,000 Sikh pilgrims from India to visit on a daily basis to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Narowal through the Kartarpur corridor.
“On behalf of the government, as the foreign minister of Pakistan, I invite him to attend the inauguration of the Kartarpur Corridor,” said Qureshi, adding that the government also intends to send a formal written invitation to the 87-year-old leader.
Qureshi, while justifying the decision to invite the senior Congress Party leader, said Sikhism was Singh”s religion and that he was a representative of the Sikh community.
“We are also very happy to receive the Sikh pilgrims who are coming to Kartarpur to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak,” Qureshi said.
Kartarpur Corridor Project Director Atif Majid earlier this month said that 86 per cent of the work on the corridor has been completed.
During the last round of talks on the Kartarpur corridor held recently, Pakistan showed inflexibility and gave unfavourable responses on issues of charging a service fee, the number of pilgrims to be allowed on special occasions and allowing protocol officials to accompany them.
There were three issues on which the Indian side had asked Pakistan to show some flexibility — their insistence on charging USD 20 per pilgrim, allowing 10,000 pilgrims on special occasions and Indian protocol officer to accompany the delegation that visits Kartarpur everyday.
Pakistan and India have kept the corridor project insulated from their recent bilateral tensions over New Delhi revoking the special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
No power can stop KPs from returning to Kashmir: Rajnath
Mangaluru, Jan 27: No power can now stop Kashmiri Pandits from going back to Kashmir, defence minister Rajnath Singh said on Monday, forcefully defending the NDA government’s decision to reorganize Jammu and Kashmir and abrogating its special status under Article 370.
In an address at a rally, the defence minister also sent a strong message to Pakistan and said India will not let anyone live in peace if it is harmed.
“We will not touch anyone, but if someone bothers us, then we are not going to let them live in peace,” he said.
Referring to the exodus of a large number of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley in the late 1990s at the height of militancy, Singh said no power now can stop them from returning to their homes.
On the Citizenship Amendment Act, the minister said it is not a law to hurt the sentiments of any religion but to give relief to victims of religious persecution.
“Mahatma Gandhi had told Nehru to give citizenship to minorities like Hindus and Sikhs if they come to India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has fulfilled that vision by bringing in the law,” Singh said.
On several non-BJP states refusing to implement the CAA, the defence minister said it it is a central law and everyone should follow it.
Accusing the Congress of misleading people on the issue, he said the party should not forget its duty towards the nation just because it is in opposition.
More snow, rains from today
Srinagar, Jan 27: The local meteorological department has predicted yet another spell of rains and snow in Kashmir from Tuesday, even as minimum temperatures settled above the freezing point on Monday, providing some relief to the people.
In a statement, the MeT department predicted widespread moderate rains and snow on Tuesday which will dwindle to scattered places by Wednesday.
“Generally cloudy sky to widespread light to moderate rain/snow from night of 27th January. Widespread moderate rain and snow for the next two days,” read the MeT statement.
On Monday, Srinagar recorded a minimum temperature of 0.6 degrees Celsius, up from the minus 0.2 degrees Celsius on Sunday, a MET official said.
He said the night temperature in the city was above the freezing point for the first time in recent days and it was 1.6 degrees above normal for this part of the season.
In Qazigund the gateway town to the valley in south Kashmir the minimum settled at a low of 0.8 degrees Celsius an increase of 1.5 degrees from the previous night’s minus 0.7 degrees Celsius.
The night temperature in Pahalgam tourist resort in south Kashmir settled at a low of minus 10.4 degrees Celsius down over seven degrees from the minus 3 degrees Celsius on Sunday and Pahalgam was the coldest recorded place in the Kashmir Valley, the official added.
The ski-resort of Gulmarg, in north Kashmir, registered a minimum of minus 10.2 degrees Celsius, the official added.
The night temperature in Kokernag in south settled at a low of minus 0.8 degrees Celsius, while Kupwara in north recorded a low of minus 4.4 degrees Celsius, the official said.
Leh in Ladakh Union Territory recorded a low of minus 18.4 degrees Celsius, he said, adding the nearby Drass registered a minimum of minus 27.8 degrees Celsius.
Nixing Sher-e-Kashmir from awards political vendetta: NC
Srinagar, Jan 27: National Conference Monday took strong exception to axing of the name of Sheikh Abdullah from various J&K police gallantry awards, saying the measure has taken vendetta to a higher level.
During a meet of party functionaries here, the NC leaders and workers unanimously condemned the axing of ‘Sher-e-Kashmir from J&K Police gallantry awards.
“It is a calibrated effort to trim every single symbol of J&K’s political individuality. The present ruling dispensation in Delhi heaving with subjective prejudices and complexes against ideals revolving around the Indian constitution and the spirits of its accommodative federalism hasn’t ceased its witch hunt against everything recognisable with sheikh Abdullah. The axing of Sher-e-Kashmir’s name from state gallantry awards should be seen in that direction. It is yet another glaring attempt of perversion aimed to distort J&K’s history, which has long been familiarized with Sheikh Abdullah even decades after his physically leaving the world,” said party spokesperson Imran Nabi Dar.
He said nixing Sher-e-Kashmir’s name from awards, and state holidays cannot erase him from J&K’s history.
“His persona is above petty recognitions, and awards. A conscious leader, he preached to his countrymen to overcome timidity and prejudices. He decried lack of courage as a biggest curse in achieving self-respect,” he said.
While rebuffing former deputy CM Nirmal Singh’s remarks on Sheikh Abdullah, Imran said: “We unequivocally condemn his uncouth remarks against Sheikh Sahib. Being lost into the obscurity he is hitting on the tallest political statesman and charismatic mass leader of J&K and Sub-continent to gain cheap publicity.”
Meanwhile party’s members of parliament Muhammad Akbar Lone and (Retd) Justice Hassnain Masoodi also condemned axing of Sher-e-Kashmir’s name from JK police gallantry awards, terming the move “vengeful and shocking”.