New Delhi Oct 3 (IANS) Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be visiting Kartarpur Sahib shrine in Pakistan, as part of the first all-party group of pilgrims, on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak next month, the Punjab government said on Thursday.
The announcement came after Chief Minister Amarinder Singh met Manmohan Singh here and made a request to him to join the first batch visiting the shrine on the special occasion.
The Kartarpur Sahib gurudwara, situated in Narowal district of Pakistan’s Punjab province, is the among the holiest Sikh shrines as it is built at the place where Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev spent the last 18 years of his life before passing away in 1539.
“Dr Manmohan Singh agrees to join the first all-party ‘jatha’ to Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara and attend the mega event to mark the historic occasion,” the Punjab government statement said after Amarinder Singh’s meeting with the former Prime Minister.
Prior to that, Amarinder Singh tweeted: “Happy to meet former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh ji at his residence today. Have invited him to join us on the 1st Jatha to Sri Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara & attend the main event at Sultanpur Lodhi to mark Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s 550thPrakashPurab”.
Significantly, the Pakistan government too had extended an invitation to Manmohan Singh to join the celebrations at Kartarpur Sahib but he had not accepted it.
Amarinder Singh also met President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said “both have accepted the state government invitation to be part of historic celebration. Modalities for their visit would be finalised after the Kartarpur Corridor opening programme is frozen with Pakistan”.
A corridor is being built to enable pilgrims from India to visit the shrine and it is targeted to be completed by October 31.
Amarinder Singh also sought Modi’s personal intervention to facilitate political clearance for a special all-party group’s visit to Sri Nankana Sahib, the birth place of Guru Nanak, in Pakistan.
He requested that a group of 21 people be allowed to visit Sri Nankana Sahib to organise a prayer on the occasion of the 550th ‘Prakash Parb’ (festival of lights) from October 30 to November 3.
The Chief Minister has also written a letter to External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, seeking formal clearance for the Nankana Sahib delegation visit and the ‘nagar kirtan’ to be brought from Pakistan to Punjab, according to the state government statement.
The Punjab government has proposed an all-party meet at Sultanpur Lodhi on November 1.