Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation stone for the Kartarpur corridor on Wednesday and Indian Union ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri also attended the ceremony.
PTI reported that Swaraj was unable to travel to Kartarpur Sahib due to prior commitments and had said that India would be represented by Badal and Puri.
The foundation stone of the corridor on the Indian side was laid on Monday by Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh.
Pakistan had also invited Singh and his cabinet colleague Navjot Singh Sidhu. While Singh declined to attend the event, citing continued terrorist attacks in his state and killings of Indian soldiers by Pakistan's armed forces, Sidhu left for Pakistan on Tuesday.
Violence must stop and peace should return to the region: Sidhu
At the groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday, Sidhu said that violence must stop and peace should return to the region. ANI quoted him as saying, "Both the governments should realise that we have to move forward. My father used to tell me that Punjab Mail went till Lahore, I believe that it can go further till Peshawar, till Afghanistan."
Sidhu had on Tuesday said that the corridor will erase enmity between the two nations and create infinite possibilities between them. Here are the other points from his media address:
- He said, "The seed Imran Khan had sown three months ago has become a plant." He also called it a "happy moment" for the Sikh community.
- The former cricketer said that the corridor will prove to be a path of peace and termed it as a "corridor with infinite possibilities".
- He also said that there need to be cricket matched between the two nations. "There are numerous artistes and cricketers in both the countries everyone loves and there need to be cricket matches between India and Pakistan," he was quoted as saying by PTI.
Swaraj says corridor not connected with dialogue with Pakistan
Swaraj on Wednesday said the Kartarpur corridor initiative was not connected with the dialogue process with Pakistan. She further said that talks can start the moment Islamabad stops terror activities in India. India has been asking for such a corridor for many years, she said, while adding that she was happy Pakistan had for the first time responded positively.
- Reiterating that terror and talks can't go together, the Union minister said the corridor does not mean that bilateral talks will start.
About the corridor
- The Kartarpur corridor would facilitate visa-free travel of Indian Sikh pilgrims to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan.
- The gurdwara, on the banks of Ravi river, has historical significance for Sikhs as Guru Nanak Dev spent 18 years there.
- The decision to build the corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district in Punjab in India to the international border was taken by the Union Cabinet on 22 November.
- Hours after India called on Pakistan to construct a corridor to Kartarpur, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi tweeted that Islamabad has conveyed its decision to open the corridor to New Delhi.
- India had first proposed the Kartarpur corridor in 1999 when then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee took a bus ride to Lahore.
PTI contributed to this story.