LAHORE - Indian cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu has said Prime Minister Imran Khan and his Indian counterpart Narindra Singh Modi are on the verge of creating history by way of opening the Kartarpura corridor. Talking to journalists along with Punjab Governor Ch Muhammad Sarwar at the Governor’s House here on Tuesday, he said time provided opportunities to the leaders to immortalise their names through epoch-making feats, adding great leaders never let such opportunities slip away. He said Kartarpura corridor would immortalise Imran Khan and Modi.

Sidhu said nothing could be achieved without effort and it was a miracle that Kartarpura corridor became a reality in three months, adding Prime Minister Imran Khan could not give any better joy to the 120 million Sikhs than opening of the Kartarpura border. To a query, the Indian politician said a sweet fragrance of friendship had emanated from the land of Pakistan after elapse of 71 years, adding it was going to mesmerise people on the Indian side of the border as the Kartarpura corridor turned into a reality on November 28.

To another question, he said the opening of Kartarpura Sahib corridor would pave way for peace in the region and open up new vistas of cooperation between Pakistan and India. “Kartarpura corridor will enhance people to people contacts and I foresee brotherhood and more friendly relations between the people of two Punjabs,” he responded, adding Pakistan government had opened up doors of innumerable possibilities by opening the doors to the birthplace of Baba Guru Nanak. Talking to mediamen Punjab Governor Chuadhry Sarwar said opening of the Kartarpura border was a historic decision by the prime minister, adding Sikhs could not cross Kartarpura border for last 72 years.

The governor welcomed Navjot Singh Sidhu to Lahore, saying the Sikhs were facing many problems including visas and all these problems would be solved under the leadership of Imran Khan. Sarwar invited Sidhu to spend a whole day in Nankana Sahib next year, adding that the government had maximised facilities in the holy city of Nankana. Agencies add: Earlier, talking to media at Wagah border, Sidhu expressed his gratitude to Prime Minister Imran Khan for inviting him to the groundbreaking ceremony of Kartarpura corridor.

He said the seed that Imran Khan had sown three months ago, now became a plant for which “I once again thank the Pakistan’s prime minister and relevant authorities.”  This initiative gave him and 120 million Sikh across the world such happiness within just three months, which they had not even thought of during last 60 years, he said.

Navjot Singh Sidhu was of the view that religion must not be seen through the eyes of politics.  There were numerous artistes and cricketers in both the countries which everyone loves and there is a need to conduct cricket matches between India and Pakistan. About criticism by some Indian ministers regarding his decision to visit Pakistan, Sidhu said, “I forgive those who criticised me. I have been a fan of Imran Khan since I was a child.”

Sidhu was leading his country’s delegation to Pakistan to attend the groundbreaking ceremony of Kartarpura corridor to be held at Narowal district, today (Wednesday). The Indian delegation comprising Minister for Food Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Minister for Housing Hardeep S Puri and Sidhu reached here through Wagah Border where they were received by officials of Punjab Rangers.

Indian Punjab Minister Sidhu’s visit to Pakistan comes a day after he skipped the foundation-laying ceremony on the Indian side, saying he was not into any credit war. Speaking to Indian media, he had said that full credit of the decision to develop and open the Kartarpura Sahib Gurdwara corridor between the two countries goes to friend and Pakistan PM Imran Khan.

Speaking to reporters after crossing the border, Sidhu denied his visit would put the Congress in a spot as was the case with his last visit to Pakistan when his party had to explain his hug with Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa. Questioned about the hug, Sidhu said: “The hug (with Pakistan Army chief) was for hardly a second, it was not Rafale deal. When two Punjabis meet they hug each other, its normal practice in Punjab.”  Sidhu thanked Premier Khan for making this corridor possible. “This will erase enmity between the two nations. It is a happy moment for the Sikh community that the corridor to reach Kartarpura to get Baba Guru Nanak’s blessing without any hassle,” he told the media.

22 INDIAN JOURNALISTS

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Twenty-two Indian journalists reached Lahore Tuesday through Wagah border crossing to attend the groundbreaking ceremony of Kartarpura corridor on Nov 28. The Indian print and electronic media journalists were received by the officers of the PID at the Wagah crossing. The visiting journalists would cover the historic opening of Kartarpur corridor project by Prime Minister Imran Khan.