India will not attend the SAARC summit in Pakistan, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj today said, emphasising that the Kartarpur corridor project between the two countries will not lead to talks unless Pakistan stops sponsoring terror.
Sushma Swaraj’s emphatic “no” to attending the SAARC or South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit came a day after Islamabad’s invitation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and on a day two union ministers and Punjab minister Navjot Sidhu attended the ground-breaking ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor in Lahore.
“That invitation has already been given but we are not responding to that positively. That until and unless Pakistan stops terrorist activities in India, there will be no dialogue and we will not participate in SAARC,” the Foreign Minister told reporters in Hyderabad.
Ms Swaraj, responding to questions, emphasised that though ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri were attending the Kartarpur event in Lahore, it should not be seen in the context of dialogue that has been suspended between the countries since 2013.
“See, bilateral dialogues and Kartarpur corridor are two different things. And I am very happy that for the last 20 years, rather many years, India has been asking for the Kartarpur corridor and for the first time, Pakistan responded positively to this. But it doesn’t mean that the bilateral dialogue will start only on this. The bilateral talks always say that terror and talks can’t go together. The moment Pakistan stops terrorist activities in India, the dialogue can start. But the dialogue is not only connected with Kartarpur corridor,” Ms Swaraj said.
This morning, a top Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist who had killed senior journalist Shujaat Bukhari in Srinagar was shot dead by security forces in Budgam district. LeT terrorist Naveed Jatt, 20, was a resident of Multan in Pakistan.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will open the ground-breaking ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor linking Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, the final resting place of Guru Nanak Dev in Pakistan, to Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur.
Pakistan army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa will also be present at the ceremony at Narowal, 120 km from Lahore.
The corridor will allow Indian Sikh pilgrims to travel to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur without a visa. It is likely to be completed within six months, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said on Tuesday.
Pakistan has been under international pressure to act against terrorists who are operating from its soil, allegedly with support of its intelligence agencies. US President Donald Trump has often criticised Pakistan for not doing enough despite getting aid worth billions of dollars.
Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, is roaming freely in Pakistan.