Millennium Post

Imran's Kashmir reference at Kartarpur makes India livid

New Delhi/Lahore: India on Wednesday hit out at Pakistan PM Imran Khan for politicising the "pious occasion" of Kartarpur corridor opening ceremony.

"It is deeply regrettable that the prime minister of Pakistan chose to politicise the pious occasion meant to realise the long pending demand of the Sikh community to develop Kartarpur corridor by making unwarranted reference to Jammu and Kashmir which is an integral and inalienable part of India," the external affairs ministry said in a statement.

The MEA statement also hit out at Pakistan for its continued support to terrorism.

"Pakistan is reminded that it must fulfil its international obligations and take effective and credible action to stop providing shelter and all kind of support to cross-border terrorism from territories under its control," the statement said.

India's reaction came after Pakistan PM Imran Khan, during his speech at the ceremony to lay the foundation of Kartarpur corridor, referred to Kashmir.

Earlier on Wednesday, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj declared: There will be no dialogue with Pakistan unless it desists from terrorist activities against India, in a rebuff to Pakistan a day after Islamabad said it would invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the SAARC summit.

She also said the Kartarpur corridor initiative was not linked to the dialogue process with Pakistan.

"That invitation has already been given. But, we are not responding to it positively. Because, as I said, that unless and until Pakistan stops terrorist activities in India, there will be no dialogue and we will not participate in SAARC," Swaraj told a press conference.

Maintaining she was happy that Pakistan had responded positively to the Kartarpur corridor for the first time, Swaraj said that did not mean "the bilateral dialogue will start only on this". "Terror and talks cannot go together," she asserted.

Swaraj declined to comment on Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu visiting Pakistan for the event.

On Sidhu giving credit to Imran Khan for the corridor initiative and the latter saying it happened due to efforts of the cricketer-turned-politician, Swaraj said the Government of India, whichever government was in power, sought Kartarpur corridor.

"Such decisions happen government to government. Not through any one individual," she said, calling attempts to claim credit for the corridor "one-upmanship".

Bringing up the Kashmir dispute between the two countries, the Pakistan PM said it could be resolved with "humanity".

"We have a common aim, resolving the Kashmir dispute. Can't we, as human beings, fix that? I guarantee that it can happen, we still need the will and a dream. How much advantage both the sides will have through peace. We have to bury our differences to make peace and open our borders to each other," he added.

Khan cited the example of France and Germany, which were on opposite sides of the battleground during the Second World War, to push his demand for peace. See P7

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