External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj slammed her Pakistani counterpart on Saturday, asserting that his remark about Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan bowling a googly at India by sending along an invite to the Kartarpur groundbreaking ceremony was “disrespectful to Sikh sentiments”.
“Mr Foreign Minister of Pakistan – Your googly remarks in a dramatic manner has exposed none but YOU. This shows that you have no respect for Sikh sentiments. You only play googlies,” she tweeted. “Let me explain to you that we were not trapped by your ‘googlies’. Our two Sikh Ministers went to Kartarpur Sahib to offer prayers at the Holy Gurudwara.”
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had earlier painted the invite sent to the Indian government as a political masterstroke by Mr Khan. “Imran delivered a googly and India sent two ministers here,” he quipped on Thursday, referring to his Prime Minister’s erstwhile career as a bowler in the country’s cricket team.
The invite had come after both countries announced that they would develop Kartarpur corridor in their respective areas, linking the Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district with the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib — the final resting place of Sikh saint Guru Nanak Dev — in Pakistan. The passage, once laid, will give Indian pilgrims easy access to the shrine.
Ms Swaraj cited “prior commitments” to decline the Pakistan government’s invite, after which the centre decided to send Union Ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri to Pakistan in her stead. They were accompanied by Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who has been close to Mr Khan since his cricketing days.
Ms Badal also said that it was highly unfortunate of Mr Qureshi to think of the Kartarpur corridor as an opportunity to play the game of political one-upmanship. “Going to Sri Kartarpur Sahib was 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 his ministers have only respected the sentiments of Sikhs by authoring and participating in this noble initiative,” she tweeted.
Mr Qureshi’s remark came after India ruled out the possibility of resuming bilateral talks with Pakistan unless Islamabad halted cross-border terrorism.