Islamabad: Pakistan said Thursday that the “core issue” of Kashmir with India will not be put on the back burner after Islamabad opened the Kartarpur border for Sikh pilgrims. Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said that the corridor would be completed before the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev next year.
On November 28, Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation stone of the corridor on the Pakistani side while on November 26, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh laid its foundation stone in Punjab’s Gurdaspur. The corridor will connect Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak Dev’s final resting place in Pakistan’s Kartarpur to the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district in India, fulfilling a long-pending demand of the Sikh community.
Faisal said that the Kashmir issue will not be put on the back burner due to the Kartarpur border opening.
“With regards to Jammu and Kashmir dispute, if there is any idea in the mind of anybody that due to Kartarpur or any other reason, the resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute will be put on the back burner, it is misplaced,” he said. “The decision of opening of the Kartarpur corridor was made in good faith and to facilitate the Sikh community to visit their one of the holiest places,” he said, adding it will not impact the Kashmir issue.
On November 28, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that there will be no dialogue with Pakistan unless it desists from terrorist activities against India.
She said the Kartarpur corridor initiative was not linked to the dialogue process with Pakistan.
Faisal said the Kashmir issue would be resolved according to UN resolutions and aspirations of the Kashmiri people.
He said that the bilateral dialogue can move forward only if India was ready for it.
“We can only move forward if India remains steadfast. India’s reluctance in reciprocating to Pakistan’s proposal is the biggest hurdle in normalisation of relations between the two countries,” Faisal said.
He said that Prime Minister Khan in his letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi had outlined a comprehensive way forward for resolving all outstanding issues including Jammu and Kashmir dispute, Sir Creek, Siachen, people-to-people contacts, trade and religious tourism. “Regrettably, India agreed to our proposal one day, only to renege on their commitment the next day,” he said.
Faisal said that the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed Pakistan that the map shown by China Global Television Network portrays Jammu and Kashmir as a disputed territory and was therefore shown in white, while the maps of Pakistan and India were in brown.
“This map is in accordance with the approved maps used by the Chinese government and the United Nations. They further said that their position on Jammu and Kashmir and maps has never changed,” the FO spokesperson said.
On the issue of US President Donald Trump’s letter to Prime Minister Khan seeking assistance on the Afghan issue, he said that it vindicates Pakistan’s considered position that it can only be solved through negotiations.
“Pakistan has always advocated political settlement to end the war in Afghanistan,” he said, asserting Pakistan’ commitment to play a facilitative role in bringing peace in the neighbouring country.
He also termed the letter as a good omen for melting the ice in relations with the US that could lead to the beginning of meaningful interactions.