Rejecting the “Indian propaganda” over the Kartarpur Corridor, Pakistan on Sunday said that such attempts were part of New Delhi’s attempt to “malign” the religious corridor and divert the world’s attention away from the prevailing situation pertaining to the condition of minorities.
“Pakistan categorically rejects the malicious Indian propaganda regarding the alleged use of the Kartarpur Corridor for business meetings. It is obvious that this concoction is part of India’s deliberate smear campaign seeking to undermine Pakistan’s historic initiative of opening the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor for Sikh pilgrims from India and around the world,” the Foreign Office said in a statement.
The FO reaction comes after some Indian media outlets while citing sources alleged that Pakistan’s intelligence agency sleuths were using the Kartarpur Corridor to meet and cultivate contacts among Indians going on the pilgrimage.
It claimed that the Indian side was collecting evidence and the matter would be raised with Pakistan soon. “India has also objected to the business meets being held at the corridor, a case in point a recent Rotary Club meeting,” the Indian media outlet added.
The Foreign Office said: “There is nothing new about India’s desperate bid to malign the ‘Corridor of Peace’ and divert the world’s attention away from the grave injustices being done to its own minorities, especially Muslims, who are being targeted with impunity by Hindu zealots in utter disregard of all tenets of law and justice.”
Pakistan accorded the highest primacy to the rights of the minorities, it read, adding that sanctity of religious places and revered sites of every community was ensured in Pakistan.
Just recently, the FO said Islamabad hosted over 2,000 Sikh pilgrims from New Delhi alone who were here to participate in the annual Baisakhi festival held from 12-21 April 2022. Elaborate arrangements were put in place to facilitate the visiting pilgrims to pay homage at their holy religious sites, it added.
“The Sikh community around the world has remained appreciative of Pakistan’s commitment to inclusivity, diversity and promotion of religious harmony,” the FO said.
It added that India would be well advised to desist from “casting fallacious aspersions” on the Kartarpur Corridor, which was a gift by the Pakistan government to the Sikh community, and instead focus on taking “meaningful steps” to effectively protect its own religious minorities and ensure the safety of their lives and places of worship.
Former prime minister Imran Khan on November 19, 2019, inaugurated the Kartarpur Corridor on the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak. The white-domed shrine in Kartarpur had remained out of reach of Indian Sikhs for decades because of hostile relations between the two neighbouring countries.
Following the partition, millions of Sikhs fled to India, while at least 20,000 of them remained in Pakistan.
The Indian minister had also talked about the partition, saying: “India has a 15,000-km long land boundary. Before 1947, we were one, shared common heritage and culture… We need to be alert on the security front.”