Imran Khan Must Clarify his Foreign Minister's 'Googly' Remark at Kartarpur Event, Says Swaraj

News18.com
Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s statement at a function on Thursday claiming that Khan had “bowled a googly” queered Pakistan PM Imran Khan's peace pitch.

New Delhi: Sushma Swaraj on Saturday urged Pakistan PM Imran Khan to come clean on his foreign minister's comment that the premier had tricked India over the Kartarpur corridor.

"I say the Pakistan PM must clarify his Foreign Minister's comment saying Imran Khan threw a googly," said Sushma Swaraj at a press conference in Jaipur.

The Pakistan Foreign Office released a statement saying the Kartarpur Corridor initiative was taken solely to fulfil the longstanding wishes of "our Sikh brethren" and criticised the "negative propaganda campaign" against the historic move.

"We are deeply dismayed at the relentless negative propaganda campaign being waged by a section of the Indian media against Pakistan on the 'Kartarpur Corridor' Initiative," the Foreign Office said in a statement.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s statement at a function on Thursday claiming that Khan had “bowled a googly” queered Pakistan PM Imran Khan's peace pitch. At Pakistan's invitation, Indian ministers had travelled to Islamabad for the Kartarpur ground-breaking ceremony.

“The world watched, Pakistan watched, that PM Imran Khan bowled a googly at Kartarpur. As a result of the googly, India, that had refused to engage with Pakistan, had to send two ministers to Pakistan to engage. We are happy they came, as ours is a message of peace,” Qureshi had told an audience of lawmakers and ruling party supporters at a function to mark 100 days of the Khan government.

Though only hours earlier, Qureshi, while addressing a group of Indian journalists invited to Pakistan to cover the Kartarpur ceremony, had said just the opposite: “Let me clarify, the Kartarpur gesture, believe me, had no googly hidden in it.”

On being asked about the relationship with neighbours, Sushma Swaraj said,"We have good relations with Nepal, a strong relation with Sri Lanka and Maldives. PM Modi had invited SAARC leaders and Nawaz Sharif for his swearing in. And the world knows why the relation with Pakistan is not good."

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.

The Kartarpur Corridor, which will facilitate the visa-free travel of Indian Sikh pilgrims to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, is expected to be completed within six months.

Earlier on Wednesday, after reports of Pakistan inviting PM Modi for the SAARC summit, Swaraj said there can be no dialogue with Pakistan unless it desists from terrorist activities against India.

She also said the Kartarpur corridor initiative was not linked to the dialogue process with Pakistan.

Responding to Swaraj's statement, her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi asked her to reconsider the possibility of dialogue between the two nations.

Speaking to News18, the Pakistan foreign minister once again extended an invite to Swaraj for engagement and said that “we should look for a soft landing” like a SAARC summit if bilateral engagement seems like a bridge too far for India.

With Swaraj declining the Kartapur invitation due to prior election engagements, Qureshi said he was “not disappointed” by Swaraj not attending the ceremony as he “never had much expectation” from her.