Manmohan Singh Accepts Invite to Visit Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan, Modi to Attend Ceremony in India

The Punjab chief minister called on Manmohan Singh at his residence in Delhi and asked him to attend the first all-party jatha (a march organised by armed Sikhs) to Kartarpur Sahib next month.

Manmohan Singh Accepts Invite to Visit Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan, Modi to Attend Ceremony in India

File photo of former prime minister Manmohan Singh. (PTI)

New Delhi: Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will visit the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan for the birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak as part of an all-party group next month as he accepted an invitation by Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind have also accepted the Punjab government’s invitation to be a part of the celebrations on the opening of Kartarpur corridor opening to be held in the state.

Amarinder Singh called on Manmohan Singh at his residence in Delhi and asked him to attend the first all-party ‘jatha’ (a march organised by armed Sikhs) to Kartarpur Sahib on November 9.

The Punjab CM’s media advisor tweeted that the former PM has accepted the invite. This would first require clearance from the central government. The media advisor said Singh would also attend the “main event at Sultanpur Lodhi to mark Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s 550th Prakash Purab”.

During his meeting with Manmohan Singh, Amarinder Singh also urged for his personal intervention to facilitate the political clearance for allowing the special all-party “jatha” to visit Nankana Sahib in Pakistan, the birth place of the first Sikh guru, on the historic occasion of the corridor’s opening.

He requested that a group of 21 persons may be allowed to visit Nankana Sahib to organise a “path” (reading of religious scriptures) on the occasion of the 550th Prakash Purb from October 30 to November 3 and bring a “Nagar Kirtan” to Sultanpur Lodhi via Amritsar (Wagah) later in the day. The “Nagar Kirtan” will arrive at Sultanpur Lodhi in Punjab’s Kapurthala district on November 4.

The chief minister has also written to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, seeking a formal clearance for the Nankana Sahib delegation visit and the “Nagar Kirtan” to be brought from Pakistan to Punjab, according to an official spokesperson.

Giving details of the key events planned by the state government from November 5 to November 15 in connection with the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev, the chief minister said the flag-off ceremony will be preceded by a brief public meeting of devotees at Dera Baba Nanak. Further, in line with past practice, the Punjab government proposed to organise an all-party meeting from 11 am to 2 pm on November 1 at Sultanpur Lodhi, he added.

The complete logistics and security arrangements for this meeting of pilgrims were being made by the state government, Singh told the prime minister and the president, extending a warm invitation on behalf of his government to them to make this a memorable experience for one and all.

Manmohan Singh’s visit to Pakistan will not be on the invitation of Pakistan. Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had on Monday said Pakistan would invite him for the inauguration event.

The opening of the Kartarpur Corridor holds great importance and value for Pakistan. And after detailed discussion and consultation, we have decided to invite former Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh as a guest to the opening ceremony, Qureshi said.

However, a formal invitation was not extended and Manmohan Singh’s office had said it had no information of any such invite, indicating he would not accept. Manmohan Singh had not visited Pakistan even during his tenure as prime minister for 10 years.

The Punjab government said the modalities for the visits of Modi and Kovind will be finalised after the Kartarpur Corridor opening programme is fixed with Pakistan.

An official spokesperson said the detailed official programme of events in Punjab had been shared with both, the President and the Prime Minister, and they had been requested by the CM to attend as per their convenience.

Amarinder Singh urged them both to, in particular, participate in the Kartarpur Corridor opening at Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur and the November 12 main programme at Sultanpur Lodhi, the spokesperson said.

The corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur in Pakistan with the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district of Punjab, and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims, who will only have to obtain a permit to visit the revered Kartarpur Sahib.

Pakistan is scheduled to open the Kartarpur Corridor for Indian Sikh pilgrims on November 9, days ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of first Sikh guru Baba Nanak on November 12.

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