New Delhi: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday said Pakistan Railway Minister Sheikh Rashid’s disclosure that Kartarpur Corridor was the “brainchild” of their Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and it will hurt India forever had exposed Islamabad’s nefarious intent behind the initiative.
Singh expressed serious concern over this admission by the Pakistan minister and said that in validating his stand on the issue, Rashid had completely bared the wicked design of Pakistan behind the Corridor, which India had hoped would emerge as a bridge of peace between the two countries.
Given Rashid’s revelation, the chief minister also urged his former cabinet colleague Navjot Singh Sidhu to be cautious in his dealings with the Imran Khan government in Pakistan.
Singh took strong exception to Rashid’s remarks that “the Corridor would hurt India forever, which would forever remember the wound inflicted on it by Gen Bajwa with the Kartarpur Corridor.”
Terming it an open and blatant threat against India’s security and integrity, he warned Pakistan to not attempt to indulge in any misadventure against its neighbour.
“Don’t make the mistake of reading weakness in our gratitude for the opening of the Corridor,” he said, warning India would give a befitting response to any bid by Pakistan to attack its borders or its people.
Declaring that India would never let Pakistan fulfil its despicable ambitions, Singh said in a statement here that any such attempt by Islamabad would be met with retaliation of the kind that “they would never be able to survive”.
On Saturday, Rashid claimed the opening of the Corridor was the brainchild of Gen Bajwa and it will hurt India forever, contradicting his government’s assertion that the idea behind the initiative was of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The Corridor, connecting Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district with the historic Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan, the final resting place of Guru Nanak Dev, was thrown open on November 9, three days ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of the Sikhism founder.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the portion of the Corridor falling on the Indian side while PM Khan inaugurated the part on the Pakistani side.
The Punjab chief minister recalled that he had all along maintained that while he was extremely happy, as a Sikh, at the opening of the Corridor to enable access to Indian devotees to Kartarpur Gurdwara, “the threat it posed to our country could not be ignored”.
Singh had been repeatedly urging caution on the matter, warning that Pakistan was trying to win the sympathies of Sikhs by opening the Corridor to further the ISI-backed ‘Referendum 2020 agenda’ (a campaign by the foreign-based organisation Sikhs for Justice for a separate Sikh state. SFJ has been banned by Indian government).
“This had been quite evident from various facts, most notably that Bajwa had disclosed the Pakistani decision to build the Corridor to then Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu at the time of Imran Khan’s swearing-in ceremony,” he said.
“Imran had not even taken over then, yet their Army chief had spoken about this to Sidhu. How was it possible unless Bajwa was the one behind the Corridor decision,” asked Singh, recalling that he had pointed this out long back.
He urged Sidhu to be cautious and not allow his personal friendship with the cricketer-turned-politician Pakistan prime minister cloud his judgement.
Sidhu, a Congress leader at loggerheads with the chief minister, had also come under fire from political parties after he hugged Gen Bajwa during the swearing-in ceremony of Khan in August last year.
Sidhu, a former cricketer, had then claimed that Gen Bajwa had told him about “making efforts to open the Kartarpur Corridor”.
Last month, Sidhu had been slammed by BJP for praising Khan at the Kartarpur Corridor inauguration ceremony and for allegedly seeking to present the Pakistani leadership on a higher pedestal than India’s.
The former Punjab minister had travelled to Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan last month for the opening of the Corridor.