Pakistan talks Kashmir, Ayodhya at Kartarpur; India responds

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KARTARPUR / LAHORE: The Kartarpur Corridor was inaugurated with much fanfare Saturday but the occasion was again used by Pakistan PM Imran Khan and foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to raise the Kashmir issue. Qureshi, in fact, even brought up the Ayodhya judgement as he suggested before Indian journalists that the judgment was advanced on purpose by the Indian government to coincide with the Kartarpur opening.
His ministry later followed it up with a statement saying that the Ayodhya judgment had failed to uphold the demands of justice. It also called upon India to ensure protection of the lives and rights of Muslims.
India quickly rejected the “unwarranted and gratuitous” comments made by Pakistan on the judgement of the Supreme Court on a civil matter it said was completely internal to India.
“It pertains to the rule of law and equal respect for all faiths, concepts that are not part of their ethos. So, while Pakistan’s lack of comprehension is not surprising, their pathological compulsion to comment on our internal affairs with the obvious intent of spreading hatred is condemnable,” said the government in its response.
While Khan earlier at Kartarpur appealed to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to free bilateral ties of the Kashmir issue by resolving it, he also took a dig at the Indian PM by saying that leaders bring people together and not spread hate to win votes.
“After what has happened there, Kashmir is no longer a territorial issue. It is now an issue of insanity,” said Khan, adding the plight of the people in Kashmir was comparable with that of animals.
Khan said there can be no peace in the current circumstances when, according to him, 80 lakh people had been subjugated by a 9-lakh-strong force. “This one issue has brought everything in bilateral ties to a halt. It is important that the Kashmir issue is resolved to help us live like normal people,” said Khan, again calling upon Modi to ensure insaaf (justice) for the Kashmiri people.
Recalling his meeting with Manmohan Singh, when the latter was PM, Khan said Singh had told him everything will fall in place if the Kashmir issue was resolved. “I said the same thing to Modi when I met him and, if he’s listening, I want to tell him that our relations should be freed of this issue. It can lead to peace and open borders resulting in trade from which both countries will benefit,” said Khan.
The Pakistan PM was addressing a gathering of thousands of pilgrims at the sprawling Kartarpur Sahib complex, much of which has been built in a record time of 12 months. Indian government sources said earlier this week that the unusual alacrity and “military zeal” with which the corridor had been built suggested that the project had full backing of the Pakistan army. While Indian officials have welcomed Kartarpur as a possible corridor of peace, they also maintain that it serves a strategic purpose for Pakistan.

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