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Pakistan should not fight with neighbours: Maryam Nawaz while meeting Indian Sikhs at Kartarpur Sahib

Maryam's echo of her father Nawaz Sharif's statement is a departure from Pakistan's traditional rhetoric and signals a possible shift in Islamabad's policy on India. New Delhi has for long called on Pakistan to take action against the issue of cross-border terrorism.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Lahore Published on: April 19, 2024 17:29 IST
Maryam Nawaz on India, Kartarpur Sahib
Image Source : PML-N (X) Punjab province CM Maryam Nawaz with Sikhs at the Kartarpur Sahib.

Lahore: Maryam Nawaz, the first woman Chief Minister in Pakistan's Punjab province, initiated a surprisingly warm outreach by the new government by arguing for enhanced relations with India, while addressing Indian Sikhs at the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara on Thursday. During her first official state-level celebrations at the corridor, Maryam echoed her father Nawaz Sharif's statement and said Pakistan should not fight with its neighbours.

Maryam met a group of Sikh pilgrims, mostly from India, as the holy Gurdwara welcomed some 2,400 Sikhs from all over the world visiting Pakistan to attend Baisakhi festivities. Addressing the gathering at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, she said, "We should not fight with our neighbours. We need to open our hearts for them".

Maryam also said that this is the first time that the Baisakhi festival is being celebrated in Pakistan at a government level. "This is my Punjab and we are celebrating all festivals of minority communities such as Holi, Easter, and Baisakhi together," she said. She also sat in the sanctum for some time with the devotees and then had langar with them. Later, she also hugged an old Indian woman who came from Amritsar and exchanged pleasantries.

I am a hardcore Punjab: Maryam Nawaz

"When I became the chief minister, I received greetings from Punjabi brothers from across the border too. I am a Pakistani, but I am a Punjabi (hardcore Punjabi) too. We wish to speak Punjabi here like the people of Indian Punjab. My grandfather, Mian Sharif, is from Jati Umra, Amritsar. When a Punjabi Indian brought soil of Jati Umra, I placed it on his (grandfather’s) grave," she continued.

Maryam also highlighted that she made Ramesh Singh Arora the first Sikh minister in her government and that she ordered the construction of a road at Kartarpur at the behest of the Sikh community. The Kartarpur corridor was opened in November 2019 by the then prime minister Imran Khan.

This sacred Kartarpur Sahib lies near the India-Pakistan border, where people from both nations visit in large numbers. Known as Gurudwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, this place is believed to be the last home of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev, and is located in Pakistan’s Punjab Province.

Nawaz Sharif's statements on India

Earlier, three-time former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has indicated multiple times that he wanted to develop 'peaceful relations' with everyone, including neighbouring India. "We want our relations to remain good with the world as well as with our neighbours. We will improve our relations with them and resolve our differences," he said in February. His and Maryam's rhetoric marks a departure from Pakistan's traditional rhetoric that hint at a potential shift in the country's usually strained relations with India.

In December last year, Nawaz said that neither the US were behind the cash-strapped country's miseries but "we shot ourselves in our own foot", indirectly referring to the powerful military establishment for its woes. He also made a reference towards India by saying that 'countries around us have reached the Moon', while blaming the military for Islamabad's ongoing economic and political problems.

More recently, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that India had "never closed doors to talking to Pakistan" but the issue of cross-border terrorism should be "fair, square at the centre of the conversation". When he was asked if there could be a conversation with the Pakistani military, Jaishankar brushed it off and said “it doesn’t work like that”. 

(with PTI inputs)

ALSO READ | Pakistan: Five Japanese nationals narrowly escape unhurt in suicide bombing attack in Karachi

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