Punjab CM urges Pak not to back out of Kartarpur Corridor

Chandigarh, Aug 11 (IANS) Expressing concern over reports of a 'discernible slowdown' in Pakistan's activities on the Kartarpur Corridor development, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday urged the neighbouring country not to back out of its committment on the project, which was of supreme religious importance to the Sikh community.

Singh's statement came after reports that India had sent Islamabad a reminder to hold meetings to finalise key decisions on the Kartarpur project.

With the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev just three months away, any slowdown in the project would delay its completion in time for the historic event, said the Chief Minister, adding that it would also serve a big blow to the Sikh community, which was dying for a 'darshan' of the place where its first Guru spent many years of his life.

On the issue of stoppage by Pakistan of trade at the Attari-Wagah border in the wake of its decision to downgrade diplomatic and trade ties with India, Singh said political concerns should not be clouded by any decision that was detrimental to the interests of the people on both sides.

"The stoppage of trade would, in particular, inflict heavy avoidable economic losses for the poor in Pakistan, as the goods would now have to take the long sea route through Iran or Dubai," said the Chief Minister.

"Trade suspension would also lead to serious loss of jobs and livelihood for thousands of porters, truck and train drivers and staff deployed on both sides," he added.

Singh termed as 'incomprehensible' the stoppage of trade on the pretext of some action taken by India with respect to a purely internal matter, and urged Islamabad to revoke the trade suspension in the interest of the people on both sides of the border.

India, he said, wanted peace, communal harmony and development on the Indo-Pak border, people on both sides of which had suffered immensely due to the continued violence and hostilities.

While reiterating that Kashmir was an internal matter of India, the Chief Minister said Pakistan should not link it with diplomatic or trade ties between the two nations.

He called asked the Indian government to open diplomatic channels to press upon Pakistan to resume trade ties.

He also urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to announce a special economic package for the development of the border states of Punjab, and Jammu and Kashmir to create better job opportunities for their youth.

The Centre, he stressed, should also raise additional battalions in the Army, para-military forces and the state police for all the border states.

--IANS

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