India on Wednesday sharply reacted to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s statement on Kashmir, saying Islamabad must fulfil its international obligations and stop providing shelter and “all kind of support to cross border terrorism from territories under its control”. Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of Kartarpur Corridor, Khan said Pakistan wished to move forward and wanted a civilized relationship with India while stressing that only ‘problem’ both nations faced was that of Kashmir.
“I am saying today, that our political leaders, our army, and all other institutions are all on one page. We wish to move forward, we want a civilised relationship. We have just one problem, Kashmir. If man can walk on the moon, what problems are there that we cannot resolve?” he asked during the laying of foundation of Kartarpur corridor.
Khan said that determination and dreams were necessary to solve ‘problem’. “I assure you that we can solve this problem. But determination and big dreams are both necessary. Imagine, once trade begins, once our relationship is fixed, how much both nations could benefit,” he said. “Both countries can get ahead.”
The Ministry of External Affairs MEA it’s deeply regrettable that the “Pakistan PM chose to politicise the pious occasion meant to realise the long pending demand of Sikh community to develop Kartarpur Corridor by making unwarranted reference to J&K which is integral and inalienable part of India.”
It added: “Pakistan is reminded that it must fulfill its international obligations and take effective and credible action to stop providing shelter and all kind of support to cross border terrorism from territories under its control.”
Khan laid the foundation stone for the historic Kartarpur Corridor linking Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan's Kartarpur - the final resting place of Sikh faith's founder Guru Nanak Dev - to Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India's Gurdaspur district to facilitate visa-free movement of Sikh pilgrims.
The corridor made headlines in August after the Punjab cabinet minister and Congress leader visited Pakistan to attend the swearing-in ceremony of his friend Khan.
Sidhu was later criticised for hugging Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa at the high-profile event.
"I heard there was a lot of criticism of Sidhu when he went back after my oath-taking ceremony. I don't know why was he criticised. He was just talking about peace between two countries which are nuclear armed," Khan said.
"It is foolish for anyone to think there can be war between two nuclear-armed countries as there is no winning for anyone. So, if there can be no war then what other way is there other than friendship?" he added.
Khan said the citizens of both countries want peace and it is just the leadership which needs to be on the same page.
"I am hoping that we don't have to wait until Sidhu becomes prime minister for there to be peace between India and Pakistan," he said.
Khan jokingly said that Sidhu has such a large fan following in Pakistan, specially in the country's Punjab province, that if he ran in elections here, he would win.
"He can come and contest election here in Pakistan's Punjab, he'll win," the cricketer-turned-politician said about Sidhu.
(With PTI inputs)