Wednesday Nov 28, 2018
ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Wednesday said the Kartarpur corridor is a path to dialogue between India and Pakistan.
In an interview with BBC Urdu ahead of the groundbreaking ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor, the foreign minister said, “The corridor is a path for dialogue, sitting together and for removing differences and distances between India and Pakistan.”
Stating that “there was no pressure on Pakistan to construct the Kartarpur corridor,” FM Qureshi said, “From day one, it was Prime Minister Imran Khan’s desire that there should be peace in our region.”
“It is his thinking that fine, we have conflicts with India, we have historical conflicts but what is the solution? War is not a solution. Both the countries are nuclear powers and war would be synonymous to suicide. There is no room for war, so then what is the way forward?” Qureshi asserted.
The foreign minister added, “The Kartarpur corridor is an extraordinary effort to remove distances.”
“People used to visit Pakistan through Wagah Border, it was a 400 kiolmetre route which we are bringing to four kilometres so distances have been reduced,” he said. “When distances are reduced and visits are frequent then relations will improve,” FM Qureshi continued.
“When people-to-people contacts are increased then perceptions change. This region is gripped by poverty and ignorance and we have to bring change,” he said while adding that change comes through mindsets and attitudes.
“Hence, the Kartarpur corridor decision is a change in mindset and thinking which reduces distances and strengthens relationships while asking people to come sit together,” the foreign minister said.
Speaking about the reaction of the Sikh community, FM Qureshi said, “Their reaction proves that this decision is popular and fruitful.”
“Sikh community in Pakistan, India and south Asia is extremely pleased with this decision. They are celebrating like it is Eid,” he added.
“The corridor will bring a pleasing change and I believe that wise people live on both sides of the border,” the foreign minister said.
Stating that it is the priority of PM Imran’s government to strengthen the country economically and financially and fighting corruption and governance, FM Qureshi said, “This can only be achieved if there is peace and our eastern and western borders are secure which is why we have been asking New Delhi and Kabul to talk to resolve issues.”
Regarding Indian Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and Indian Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh declining the invitation to attend the groundbreaking ceremony, Qureshi said, “We invited but they could have been busy.”
“I will not doubt their intentions. I think it is a positive step that Swaraj sent her two ministers.”
Further, Qureshi commented on the Indian Punjab chief minister’s statement and regretted that “his attitude was not as it should have been”. “It is easy to exchange harsh words but we do not want this matter to become political,” he concluded.
The foreign minister said to ensure security the corridor will be fenced from both sides. “We want that whoever visits, enters and leaves safely,” he said.
“There will be no need for passports or visas and people will be granted permits upon arrival after payment of a minimum fee,” FM Qureshi added.
Further, he said, “If visitors increase and situation further improves then we will try and make shops and hotels in the area.”