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Narendra Modi will be invited for SAARC: FO

28 November, 2018

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Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal has said that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be invited to Pakistan for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit.

Ties among SAARC member states have been tenuous since the 19th summit ? which was slated to be held in Pakistan in 2016 ? was cancelled after India boycotted the event, causing Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan to also pull out.

Addressing the Kashmir Conference in Islamabad on Tuesday, the FO spokesman recalled that Prime Minister Imran Khan in his first address had said that if India took one step forward, Pakistan would take two.

He added that the premier, in his response to Modi’s letter, had expressed Pakistan’s openness to resolving all outstanding issues through dialogue with India. “We fought a war with India, relations cannot be fixed quickly,” Dr Faisal said.

The FO spokesman said that the Kartarpur Corridor, which will facilitate the visa-free travel of members of India’s Sikh community to their religious site in Pakistan and open up new vistas of peace between the Pakistan and India, would be inaugurated by Prime Minister Imran Khan today and is expected to be completed within six months.

“In this century diplomacy has completely changed,” he said, adding: “Now policies are made based on citizens’ emotions and wishes.”

He said that the groundbreaking ceremony of the Kartarpur Corridor would be a great success for the country. He added that Indian media had been invited to cover the inauguration ceremony, and that Pakistan was not hiding anything.

Commenting on the Kashmir issue, Dr Faisal said despite Pakistan’s attempts to resume peace talks, India was running away from the dialogue process. “We want to resolve the issue through dialogue … our first target is to stop human rights violations in the Indian-held Kashmir,” he stated.

The FO spokesperson said the Pakistani youth was playing a vital role in highlighting the atrocities being committed by the Indian occupation forces in the valley through various media tools. He urged the youth to give a befitting response to the Indian propaganda on social media.

Following Pakistan’s initiative to open the Kartarpur Corridor on the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak next year, India last week had agreed and decided to build the Kartarpur road corridor up to the border with Pakistan. Pakistan and India both had made an official announcement on November 15 in this regard.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had invited former Indian cricketer and politician Navjot Singh Sidhu to visit Pakistan to attend the groundbreaking ceremony of Kartarpur corridor with India.

It was a longstanding demand of the Sikh community time to build a corridor linking India’s border district of Gurdaspur to historic gurdwara in Pakistan. The corridor will give Indian Sikh pilgrims easy access to the shrine in Kartarpur. Earlier, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had extended an invitation to his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj, Chief Minister of India’s Punjab province Amarinder Singh and former Indian cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu to attend the event.

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