Sidhu seeks govt clearance to attend Kartarpur opening

Attari: Punjab Cabinet Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu arrives after attending the swearing-in ceremony of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, in Punjab's Attari on Aug 19, 2018. (Photo: IANS)

Chandigarh:  After accepting an invite from Pakistan, former Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Saturday sought government clearance, including from External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, to attend the inauguration ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor in Pakistan.

The ceremony is scheduled three days before the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism.

Sidhu has been invited by the Imran Khan government to attend the inauguration of the Kartarpur corridor on November 9. The cricketer-turned-politician accepted the invite.

However, the Indian government has said that all those who have been invited by the Pakistan government must first seek political clearance.

Sidhu on Saturday also wrote to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Jaishankar seeking permission to attend the event.

“As a humble Sikh, it shall be a great honour to pay obeisance to our great Guru Baba Nanak on this historic occasion and connect to our roots. Therefore, I may be permitted to visit Pakistan for this auspicious occasion,” he wrote in the letters.

On the directives of Prime Minister Imran Khan, ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf senator Faisal Javed had contacted Sidhu and extended the invitation to him earlier this week.

Sidhu said the Sikh community all over the world looks forward to visit the holy shrine associated with their spiritual leader Guru Nanak Dev.

“The Kartarpur Corridor agreement sends a positive message to millions of Sikhs around the world,” he was quoted as saying by Pakistani media.

In August last year, Sidhu had attended the oath-taking ceremony of Imran Khan.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address a public gathering at Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district of Punjab after inauguration of the Kartarpur Corridor on November 9.

The Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara, originally known as Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, is a highly revered Sikh shrine where Guru Nanak Dev spent 18 years of his life and is his final resting place.

In a major relief to Sikh devotees visiting Pakistan for the celebrations of the ‘Prakash Purb’, Islamabad on Friday announced the waiving of requirement of a passport for identification and prior registration for such visitors.

It also exempted Indian pilgrims from paying a $20 entry fee on the day of inauguration of the corridor and Guru Nanak Dev’s birthday on November 12.