As is its wont, Pakistan has found something to object to in yet another domestic affair of India. Reacting to the Supreme Court verdict on the Ayodhya dispute, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has called it “insensitive” to schedule the date of the judgment on the very day Kartarpur Corridor was to be inaugurated.
The Supreme Court on Saturday pronounced its verdict on the country’s oldest and controversial Ayodhya case. The apex court accepted the right of Ram Lalla Virajman on the disputed land of Ayodhya while asking the Muslim side to give land at a different place in Ayodhya. The case coverage dominated today’s Pakistani newspapers. Pakistanis even went on Twitter to trend hashtags related to the Ram temple.
Expressing displeasure over the timing of the decision on the Ayodhya case, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said it was interesting that on the day the Kartarpur corridor is being inaugurated, a verdict is being given on the Ayodhya case. In a conversation with Dawn News TV, Qureshi said, “Couldn’t they wait a few days for a verdict on the Ayodhya case? I am deeply saddened to see the insensitivity on such a joyous occasion.”
Implying that the verdict went against Muslims, Qureshi said, “India should have joined this joyous occasion of Kartarpur Corridor’s inauguration rather than distracting the attention of the people. The Ayodhya case is a sensitive issue and should not have been spoiled of the day of happiness.”
Addressing the Indian media at the inauguration of the Kartarpur corridor, Qureshi once again struck a jarring note in Jammu and Kashmir. He accused India of human rights abuses in Kashmir until Indian journalists intervened to tell him that while his position on Kashmir was bogus, the occasion of inauguration of the corridor for Sikh pilgrimage was not proper for a discourse on Kashmir either.
Qureshi said, “We had thought that the situation would be fine after the election but since 5 August (the day Indian Parliament turned Article 370 defunct), the situation has become worse.”
The Pakistan foreign minister said that Indian politicians were questioning the government’s move, too, exploiting the statements of Indian politicians of the Congress and other opposition parties.
When Indian journalists questioned Qureshi about using military force against the people in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), the Pakistani minister looked for answers in a long pause. He then said India should respect the Simla Agreement and the resolutions made by the United Nations.
Qureshi accused Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi of “destroying the soul” of the Kartarpur project.
On being questioned about Khalistani promotion by Pakistan during the inauguration of the Kartarpur Corridor, Qureshi said, “Some people feel we are giving a vent to movements against India. This is complete nonsense. No such movement is going on.” When the images of Khalistani separatists in videos and posters of Kartarpur were questioned, he ducked.
The Kartarpur Sahib Corridor was inaugurated for the citizens of India. This is going to be the first time after Independence when Indians visited the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara without any hindrance. To celebrate the 550th Prakash Parv, the governments of India and Pakistan approved of the corridor in a hurry.
Ayodhya not mentioned in PM Modi’s address during corridor inauguration
In India, addressing the Sikh community, Prime Minister Modi said it was an occasion of great pleasure to inaugurate the Kartarpur Corridor before the 550th Prakash Parv of Guru Nanak Dev. Prime Minister Modi said, “It is my privilege to dedicate the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor to the country.” The prime minister heartily congratulated all the Sikhs in the country and the world at the inauguration of Kartarpur Corridor and said that, due to this corridor, darshan of the Gurdwara Darbar Sahab will become easier.
Keeping his tenor sober along the lines of the appeal the prime minister had issued yesterday, Modi did not mention the Ayodhya verdict during his speech. He dealt with the Supreme Court judgment subsequently in the evening in a televised address to the nation.
Continuing to mock at the Pakistani prime minister for his last name, Modi mentioned him as “Imran Khan Niazi” ostensibly to remind him that Gen Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi had signed on the document of surrender before India after the Bangladesh War of 1971. Modi thanked Khan nevertheless. The Indian representative at the UN had mentioned the Pakistani prime minister’s name similarly at the recent UNGA meet. The two Niazis are but not related.
Till now, Indian devotees used to look at the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara from the Indian side of the border using binoculars. Devotees will now be able to visit the Kartarpur gurdwara. The first batch of Indians that visited the shrine today had a strength of 470. Up to 5,000 pilgrims can avail of the opportunity every day as per the agreement between India and Pakistan.