‘Pain must end, peace must return’: Navjot Singh Sidhu at Kartarpur event in Pakistan
In his speech, Navjot Singh Sidhu showered praise on Pak PM Imran Khan, saying history will remember him for bridging the gap between the two neighbours and ending the 70-year wait of India’s Sikhs.Updated: Nov 28, 2018 17:17 IST
“This corridor holds promise, the promise to bring two neighbours closer”, said Punjab minister Navjyot Singh Sidhu at the function to lay the foundation stone for the Pakistan leg of the Kartarpur corridor linking Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur, the final resting place of Sikhism’s founder Guru Nanak Dev, to Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Gurdaspur district in Punjab.
Among those present on the occasion were Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, his senior ministers, Union ministers from India Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Puri and scores of Sikh pilgrims from both countries.
Introduced by the anchor as ‘sixer Sidhu’ whose friendship outclassed hate, the Congress politician was seen speaking animatedly with the Pakistan prime minister seated in the front row with other dignitaries.
And when he spoke, the loudest and the most frequent applause was for him.
In his speech filled with poetry and religious couplets, Sidhu showered praise on Khan saying history will remember him for bridging the gap between the two neighbours and for ending the 70-year wait of the Sikhs of India.
“Bloodshed must end, pain must end, peace must return…We have paid a big price, someone has to douse this fire. This corridor is full of promise, it will bring the two countries close,” he said.
In an emotional speech, Sidhu said his parents used to see Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, which is just 4 km from the Gurdaspur border, from a distance and return with tears in their eyes as they could go no further . “My friend Imran Khan has wiped the tears of lakhs of Sikhs,” he added.
Imran Khan, reciprocated the praise in equal measure when it was his turn to speak. Hailing the Indian cricketer-turned-politician, Khan said, “Sidhu saab, if you come and fight elections in Pakistan’s Punjab, you will win.
Speaking on the occasion, Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal praising the Modi government said, “our government has worked hard for this day”. Sikhs all over the world had been waiting for this day, she added.
Earlier, Pakistan minister for Religious Affairs and Inter-faith Harmony Noorul Haq Qadri, in an oblique reference to the Sidhu’s hug controversy, said “more hugs from you will solve more problems.”
Sidhu had drawn criticism back home when he hugged the Pakistan Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa at Imran Khan’s swearing in ceremony earlier this year.
#WATCH Pakistan PM Imran Khan: I don't know why was Sidhu criticised (in India). He was just talking about peace. He can come and contest election here in Pakistan, he'll win. I hope we don't have to wait for Sidhu to become Indian PM for everlasting friendship b/w our nations. pic.twitter.com/yPdWCJDYAr— ANI (@ANI) November 28, 2018
Qadri said Pakistan plans a grand celebration next November for Baba Guru Nanak’s birthday and also had plans to turn Gurduwara Darbar Sahib into the state of the art place of worship.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Baba Nanak cannot be confined to one nation, “his influence is evident from Taxila to Harapppa, from Mohenjo Daro to Kartarpur.”
This corridor will bring prosperity to not just India and Pakistan but the entire sub-continent, he added.
Kartarpur is located beside the River Ravi in Narowal district, some 120km from Lahore and only about 3-4km from the border with India.
Settled in 1521 by Baba Guru Nanak, the village is famous for its white-domed Gurdwara Kartarpur Darbar Sahib, which holds religious significance for the Sikh community. Kartarpur is where Baba Guru Nanak settled down after his travels as a missionary. He lived there for 18 years until his death in 1539.
Gurdwara Kartarpur Darbar Sahib was built by Sardar Bhupindar Singh, the Maharaja of Patiala, between 1921 and 1929.
Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had likened the decision by the two countries to the fall of the Berlin Wall, indicating that the project may ease simmering tension between the two countries.
First Published: Nov 28, 2018 16:47 IST