New Delhi: Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will visit Pakistan for the inauguration ceremony of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor 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 to be held in the state.
Amarinder called on Manmohan Singh at his residence and asked him to attend the first all-party 'jatha' (a march organised by armed Sikhs) to Kartarpur Sahib for the inauguration of the cross-border corridor on November 9. The Punjab CM’s media advisor tweeted that the former PM has accepted the invitation. 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 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. 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 15 during the celebration, 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 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 earlier said Pakistan would invite him for the inauguration event.
However, a formal invitation was not extended and Manmohan’s office said it had no information of any such invite, indicating he would not accept it. Manmohan had not visited Pakistan even during his tenure as prime minister for 10 years.