USA welcomes opening of Kartarpur corridor

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Sidhu's picture with Chawla may go wrong with him as he (Chawla) heads the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, that provoked anger in India.

Mr Kugelman said: "It's politically risky for the Indian government, particularly for a Hindu nationalist government like the current one, to extend an olive branch to Pakistan during the height of campaign season".

He asserted that it wasn't in Pakistan's interest to let terrorists use its territory for terror attacks against India or other countries.

Khan's remarks came a day after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj categorically ruled out the possibility of holding talks with Pakistan unless it stops cross-border terror activities.

On punishing Mumbai attack mastermind and Jamat-ud Dawah (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed, who is carrying a United States dollars 10 million U.S. bounty, Khan said, "There are UN sanctions against Hafiz Saeed".

"The Kartarpur spirit can make pilgrims of us all, venturing out on a journey that breaks the barriers of history and opens the borders of the heart and the mind".

The Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur is one of the holiest places in Sikhism.

Khan promised to upgrade facilities in Kartarpur.

The chief minister of Indian Punjab, Amarinder Singh, while welcoming the Kartarpur corridor opening, refused an invitation to attend the ground-breaking ceremony citing Pakistan's support for terrorism in Indian Punjab.

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While PM Imran Khan has said that the two countries need to learn from past mistakes and move forward, India has maintained that talks can not be restarted till Islamabad continues to harbour and support terrorists.

"I can see happiness on the faces of Sikh community today".

He said the move was an effort by the Indian government to please the Sikh community ahead of next year's general elections.

He recalled that "Imran Khan said he will take two steps for every one step India takes". Sidhu has won hearts of millions of peace-loving Pakistanis and even prime Minister Imran Khan acknowledged Sidhu's popularity in Pakistan.

India's Ministry of External Affairs later said it was "deeply regrettable" that Khan politicised a "pious occasion" by making a reference to Jammu and Kashmir, an integral part of India.

Politicians on both sides have hailed the decision as an impetus for peace between the two countries that have fought several wars in their seventy-year existence. "I invite you to contest elections from Pakistan's Punjab and I know you will win not only from Punjab but also from any constituency of Pakistan", Prime Minister Khan said. "Its a step toward peace which our region needs", Pakistani military spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor quoted him as saying.

When the Kartarpur Corridor becomes operational next year, in time for the 550th anniversary of the birth of Guru Nanak, Sikhs will have access to perform their religious rituals for the first time since the partitioning of the two countries in 1947.

"Tensions with India are not hidden from anyone but our approach is people-centric and we need peace for people to prosper". The much-awaited corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan's Kartarpur - the final resting place of Sikh faith's founder Guru Nanak Dev - with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India's Gurdaspur district and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, which was established in 1522 by Guru Nanak Dev.

On Monday, Indian Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu laid the foundation stone for the construction of the corridor in India.

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