Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi

Caught in a political bind, Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, after pondering over the pros and cons, has decided against going to Pakistan for Kartarpur corridor opening ceremony

While the Punjab chief minister has decided to lead the Punjab Jatha with former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expected to join it, none of the leaders from the Indian side will attend the inauguration of the Kartarpur Corridor which is also likely to be held on the same day. The opening ceremony is expected to be only a low-key formal affair with only ministry officials joining it from the Indian side. However, Pakistan is expected to make it look like a big event to convey to the world that it is making all efforts to normalise relations with India. Besides, it also wants to win over pro-Khalistan Sikh sentiments. Clarifying his earlier statement, Punjab CM said that he does not believe Manmohan Singh is going either for the opening ceremony as he has only agreed to join the Punjab jathaa. He clarified that he would be only leading the first all-party Jatha to the Dera Baba Nanak Gurdwara in Kartarpur to pay obeisance.

The chief minister had, earlier in the day, called upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Ram Nath Kovind and former PM Manmohan Singh to extend a formal invitation to participate in the main events organised by the state government on the Indian side to mark the historic occasion. According to the chief minister, both PM Modi and Kovind have accepted his invite, while Singh has also agreed to join the Jatha.

"There is no question of me going to Pakistan for Kartarpur corridor opening and I feel Manmohan Singh will not go as well," he said, pointing out that there was a huge difference between visiting Pakistan and going to the Gurdwara through the Corridor. The chief minister's remarks came in response to questions after a section of the media claimed that Singh had accepted Pakistan's invite and would be going across the border for the Kartarpur Corridor inauguration.

"The fact was that Singh had accepted Captain Amarinder's invitation to join the jathaa, to be led by the chief minister, through the Kartarpur Corridor, to pay obeisance at the historic gurdwara across the border on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev," an official spokesperson pointed out.

Sources said the Congress was divided on the issue as India's relations with Pakistan are at an all-time low and any wrong step can show the party in the bad light.

"As far as visiting Pakistan is concerned," the chief minister reiterated, he would not go there till Pakistan stops cross border terrorism. He said Punjab was the worst sufferer of Pak's cross border terrorism and he cannot think of going there till it stops.

Asked if Pakistan was playing a dirty game over the Kartarpur Corridor, the CM said this question should be put to Pakistan PM Imran Khan.