Kartarpur opening will not lead to bilateral dialogue, says Sushma Swaraj

Pakistan and India begin construction of 'corridor of peace'

The six-km Kartarpur corridor coming up between India and Pakistan should be seen in isolation, the Chief of the Army Staff, General Bipin Rawat, said on Wednesday.

The call for a visa-free Kartarpur Sahib corridor is an old demand from the Sikh community.

Former Indian cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu on Tuesday led a delegation of his country to attend the groundbreaking ceremony on Pakistan's invitation.

Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu and Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal are representing India at the ceremony.

Sidhu crossed the global border at Wagah and was received by Pakistani authorities.

The inauguration of the corridor on the Indian side took place Monday and Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan is scheduled to inaugurate construction at the Pakistani end later today.

Pakistan will build the corridor from the Indian border to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur while the other part from Dera Baba Nanak in Indian Punjab's Gurdaspur district up to the border will be constructed by India. While speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader also stressed on the efforts made by Sidhu in the opening of the corridor and hoped for everlasting friendship between India and Pakistan.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will lay the foundation stone for the Pakistani side of the proposed corridor later in the day.

"It should not lead to a breakdown of the relationship between India and Pakistan", Raghavan, who is also the author of the book, "The People Next Door: The Curious History of India-Pakistan Relations, said".

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"We will keep improving the Kartarpur darbar for you", Imran Khan told thousand of Sikh pilgrims from both India and Pakistan who were present at the ceremony. But here, we move forward and then we move backwards.

Imran Khan said Pakistan wanted a "strong" and "civilised" relationship with India and both the countries could resolve all issues, including Kashmir.

However, while talking to journalists in Indian Hyderabad, Swaraj claimed that India had been "asking for the [opening] of the Kartarpur corridor" for the past 20 years.

Commenting on the meeting of Khalistani leader with Bajwa, Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat said, "Everybody talks about giving peace a chance".

Khan gave examples from his cricket playing days and said a player used to have a fear of losing while entering the stadium. "Both nations can benefit", Khan added.

"If India takes one step forward, we will take two steps forward in friendship", he reiterated. "It is not an enthusiasm or a laughter challenge from Sidhu", the minister said.

"Both India and Pakistan are nuclear armed countries".

The development comes ahead of Guru Nanak's 550th birth anniversary in 2019.

Sikh pilgrims coming from other countries can land at Lahore and Sialkot worldwide airports and reach to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib from the old route.

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