'Do not use Kartarpur Sahib to fulfil evil designs'
Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal Friday warned Pakistan that it should not use the Kartarpur Corridor issue and religion to fulfil its "evil designs" of vitiating the peaceful atmosphere in India and particularly in Punjab.
She said the Indian and the Punjab governments are ready to give a befitting response to Pakistan, which needs to build bridges or face further isolation across the world.
The minister, who represented India at the ground-breaking ceremony of Kartarpur Corridor along with her colleague Hardeep Singh Puri, said the issue was a matter of faith and there is no scope for "one-upmanship" and "petty politics" on it.
Her remarks come a day after Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi claimed its prime minister Imran Khan's "googly" forced the Indian government to engage with the country on the Kartarpur Corridor issue.
"Going to Sri Kartarpur Sahib was a matter of faith for me. Indulging in one-upmanship on this sacred issue is uncalled for. No one was bowled over by any 'googly'. PM Modi and ministers have only respected sentiments of Sikhs by authoring and participating in this noble initiative," she said.
"If you think you will be able to fulfil your evil designs by misusing our religion, you are mistaken. We are Guru Gobind Singh's children who know how to protect our country.
"My suggestion to you is that you do not use religion to fulfil your evil intentions. You should realise that its results would be bad and history is witness to it and Baba Nanak is there," she told reporters.
Qureshi said Thursday that Khan, a former cricketer, "delivered a googly" to ensure Indian government's presence at the ground-breaking ceremony.
A googly is a leg-spinner's prize weapon which is almost undetectable.
Qureshi's remarks came a day after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj categorically ruled out the possibility of resumption of bilateral talks with Pakistan unless it stops cross-border terror activities against India.
Pakistan had invited Swaraj for Wednesday's ceremony. But Swaraj said she was unable to travel to Kartarpur Sahib due to prior commitments. India was represented at the event by Badal and Puri.
On Thursday, Qureshi had also noted that it was the same Indian government which had said it will not engage with Pakistan but it had to for the ground-breaking ceremony of Kartarpur Corridor.
Badal said the Pakistan prime minister had said before the Indian delegates and the entire world that he, his party and his military want peace with India.
"Your (Khan's) minister's words make fun of this occasion and link it to your evil designs. As prime minister, you need to control your ministers and the army. Otherwise, as people across the world have lost faith in Pakistan, they will lose that faith even in the prime minister of Pakistan," she said.
The Shiromani Akali Dal leader felt that it was with Baba Nanak's assent that the corridor, the discussion on which was hanging in fire for the past 70 years, has come about suddenly.
She stressed that more than India, Pakistan needs the corridor, especially after the entire world negated the country.
"If they try and bring their designs in this too, then the entire world will shun them. Pakistan will lose even more," she warned.
On Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu's and Qureshi's remarks, she said, "Whatever was cooked between the two cricketers, that googly has come before us. I do not want to say anything on this. I consider this occasion as a pious occasion and is linked with our faith and our Guru."
Badal said the Indian government knows how to reply to Pakistan's designs and it was displayed through surgical strikes in September 2016.
"If they continue to show their designs through this Kartarpur Corridor, then the Government of India is standing before us. But if they want to vitiate the atmosphere of peace in Punjab and in our country, then the Government of India and every Punjabi will give them a befitting reply."
Meanwhile, Sidhu said, "Rahul Gandhi is my captain. It is he who sent me to Pakistan."
(With inputs from agencies.)