Published On: Tue, Nov 27th, 2018

Asked Navjot Sidhu to reconsider decision to visit Pak: Amarinder Singh

Chandigarh: Amid controversy over Punjab cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu’s visit to Pakistan for Wednesday’s foundation stone laying function of the Kartarpur Corridor, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday said he had asked Sidhu to “reconsider” his decision.

My message is very clear: don’t mess with Punjab

“I had asked Sidhu to reconsider his decision to go to Pakistan for the groundbreaking ceremony of the Kartarpur Corridor, but had acceded to his (Sidhu’s) request for permission to go since I did not believe in stopping anyone from undertaking a personal visit,” Amarinder told media on Tuesday.

“Sidhu was in Madhya Pradesh when I told him to reconsider his decision. Sidhu told me he had already committed himself. When I informed him of the stand I had taken, he said it was his personal visit but he would get back to me. But I did not hear from him,” said the Chief Minister.

Amarinder said the minister sent him a request for going and he cleared it. “I do not stop anyone from going anywhere on a private visit. It (Sidhu’s trip) is not an official visit,” the Chief Minister said.

Sidhu, who arrived in Pakistan on Wednesday, had on Monday defended his decision to go to Pakistan saying he had the “Chief Minister’s permission.”

Standing by his own decision to decline Pakistan’s invitation for the ceremony, Amarinder said he believed in saying what he felt.

“I have strong feelings on the issue. I have a strong bond with the Army and cannot stand seeing my people getting killed,” he said.

The Congress had always stood against terrorism and would never allow anyone to destroy the peace of the country or its people, Amarinder said.

Terming the situation in Pakistan as “very uncertain and fluid”, Amarinder said nobody knew who was running the government there or what was happening in that country.

“If Imran Khan is running the government, then he should rein in (the Pakistan army and the terrorist groups). If he cannot do that, then he obviously has nothing in his hands,” the Chief Minister said.

“My message is very clear: don’t mess with Punjab,” declared Amarinder, reiterating his warning to Pakistan against any attempt to disrupt peace in Punjab and India.

Vowing not to allow terrorism to return to Punjab at any cost, the Chief Minister said the times had changed now.

“Punjab then had a police force of less than 20,000, but now has 81,000 police personnel to keep it safe and protected. However, if things do get out of hand, then there is the Indian Army, which is well equipped and prepared to counter any threat. The Army will not allow them (Pakistan) to create trouble in India,” he said.

Referring to the Kartarpur Corridor, the Chief Minister said that every Punjabi was very happy with it and that there was no question of it being used by terrorists to infiltrate into India.

“No one should worry about that as there would be a high level of security in the corridor,” he said.

Pointing out that the issue of the corridor was raised by former Prime MInister Manmohan Singh on the 400th anniversary of Guru Granth Sahib in 2004 and he himself had raised the issue with Pakistani leaders Parvez Musharraf and former Pakistan Punjab Chief Minister Parvez Elahi, Amarinder said he was completely in favour of the corridor as he wanted peace, backed by increase in trade, with Pakistan.

“It is the killing of innocent Indians and Indian soldiers that I cannot tolerate. Kargil had happened during peace talks with then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Pakistan could not be trusted in the current circumstances,” Amarinder said.

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