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Pakistan has to genuinely want to improve relations: Amarinder Singh

Simran Sodhi
Filed on November 8, 2019 | Last updated on November 8, 2019 at 05.21 pm

(PTI file)

He turns nostalgic about his family's historic ties with the Gurdwara which his grandfather helped rebuild in 1925.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh says the Kartarpur Corridor opening is a bittersweet development. He turns nostalgic about his family's historic ties with the Gurdwara which his grandfather helped rebuild in 1925. "To be blessed at this shrine is something I had only aspired for all these years," he says.

Q: Why is the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor by Pakistan 'bittersweet' as you recently said so?

A: It has, for years, been a cherished dream of every Sikh to visit the historic Kartarpur Gurdwara where Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji spent his last days. With the opening of this Corridor, this dream is finally set to be realised. There can be nothing sweeter for me than the thought of visiting the Gurdwara in my lifetime. But, at the same time, the continued attempts to spread terror on our soil, the brutal killings of innocent Indians, including our soldiers, and the constant threat to destroy the peace and harmony of our land leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. The realisation that we need to be always on our toes against these threats takes some of the sweetness out of the experience - the reason I call this a bittersweet development.

Q: Could this be the beginning of better ties between India and Pakistan?

A: Look, every initiative that connects and emerges as a bridge between people has the potential to become a precursor for better ties. But for that to happen, Pakistan has to genuinely want to improve relations, and not pay mere lip service with these kinds of gestures.

Q: Do you fear a resurgence of the Khalistan movement?

A: No, I do not fear any resurgence of the Khalistan movement. We Sikhs in India have suffered enough during the dark period of militancy. We have seen what a divisive movement like this can do to us and the way it can destroy lives, not just for us and our families but for our future generations. Sikhs in India want development, they want peace, they want progress for themselves and their children. There's no place for any separatist movements of this kind in India. We stand as a united nation, and this unity cannot be destroyed by some disruptive elements whose only agenda is to divide India. These elements cannot see a strong and powerful, united India. But that is the India the world has, and will continue to see.

Q: Navjot Singh Sidhu and his closeness to the Pakistan establishment has raised many an eyebrow. How do you see it?

A: I have told Navjot on earlier occasions that his personal ties with Pakistan prime minister and ex-cricketer Imran Khan notwithstanding, the message this kind of bonhomie sends out is not good for anyone. But perhaps his way of looking at things, as a sportsman, is different from my way, as a soldier. However, it is eventually his decision to make. Does he want to stand with his Indian brethren, or does he want to rub soldiers with those responsible for these massacres?

Q: As a Sikh and not as a politician how do you see the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor?

A: As I said earlier, as a true Sikh, I am extremely happy to be getting this opportunity, in my lifetime, to visit Kartarpur Sahib - a dream that I have long cherished and had hoped for realisation. My family has had historic ties with the revered Gurdwara, with my grandfather Maharaja Bhupinder Singh having donated the money needed to rebuild it in 1925 after the original building was ravaged by floods. To be blessed at this shrine is something I had only aspired for all these years, and I am truly fortunate to get the chance to fulfill this aspiration.

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