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Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan performed the groundbreaking ceremony of the long-awaited corridor connecting Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur area of Narowal district to Dera Baba Nanak in India’s Gurdaspur district on Wednesday.
Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and other Pakistani officials were present at the groundbreaking ceremony. India was represented by Union ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Hardeep Singh Puri, and Punjab Cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu.
The event began with the airing of a film about the religious journey of members of the Sikh community to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib.
Noorul Haq Qadri, Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Inter-faith Harmony addressed the ceremony first began with his speech by greeting the premier, the COAS, the Indian delegation and all those attending.
Former cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu and Indian Minister for Food Harsimrat Kaur Badal also addressed the attendees.
PM Imran Khan took the stage amidst applause and said in media, "Today I want to welcome all our guests, our Sikh brothers and sisters who have come from all around the world."
"The happiness I see in you today if I were to explain to my Muslim brother and sisters, is that imagine that you are standing 4km outside Madina and cannot go in, and you are then given the chance to go. That is the happiness I see here."
Pak PM Imran Khan: Happiness I saw today was like of those Muslims who are standing 4 km away from Medina on other side of the border, but are unable to visit it, but when they get chance to visit it, the happiness they get is the happiness they are relishing today. #Kartarpur pic.twitter.com/bBOSPJoiXg— ANI (@ANI) November 28, 2018
"Where Pakistan and India stand today, we have seen such a situation for 70 years now. We will stay stuck this way unless we break the shackles of the past and stop blaming each other. There have been mistakes on both sides," PM Khan added.
"We should not live in the past. It should be used to learn lessons," he asserted.
"We still do not have the resolve to decide that, no matter what, we must improve our ties. France and Germany, who have fought so many wars, are now living as neighbours. They have trade ties despite killing thousands of each other's people. But their leaders one day decided that we will break their shackles and they did," he said.
"I don't understand why Navjot Singh Sidhu was criticized so harshly when he visited last," the prime minister said. "
#WATCH Pakistan PM Imran Khan: I don't know why was Sidhu criticised (in India). He was just talking about peace. He can come and contest election here in Pakistan, he'll win. I hope we don't have to wait for Sidhu to become Indian PM for everlasting friendship b/w our nations. pic.twitter.com/yPdWCJDYAr— ANI (@ANI) November 28, 2018
The premier joked that Navjot had accumulated such a large fan following in Punjab that if he ran in elections here, he would win.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan joked that former Indian cricketer and current Punjab cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu will win hands down if he contests elections there— ANI Digital (@ani_digital) November 28, 2018
Read @ANI story | https://t.co/bLiLro4tDc pic.twitter.com/Jfp5PdnWLC