Qureshi defends 'googly' comments, says linking it to Sikh sentiments misleading

Shah Mehmood Qureshi. Photograph:( Reuters )

PTI Islamabad, Pakistan Dec 02, 2018, 08.41 PM (IST)

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Sunday defended his controversial "googly" comments, which drew sharp criticism from India, saying that linking his remarks to "Sikh sentiments" was misleading.

On Thursday, Qureshi had said Prime Minister Imran Khan bowled a "googly" to ensure Indian government's presence at the groundbreaking ceremony of the landmark Kartarpur Corridor.

A googly is a leg-spinner's prize weapon, which is almost undetectable.

Qureshi noted that it was the same Indian government that had said it will not engage with Pakistan sent two ministers to the groundbreaking ceremony.

Khan on Wednesday laid the foundation stone for the Kartarpur Corridor linking two revered gurdwaras on both sides of the border in Kartarpur in Punjab province. 

Union ministers from India, Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri, along with Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu, attended the event in Pakistan Punjab province's Narowal area. 

Qureshi's remarks drew strong criticism from External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who came down heavily on her Pakistani counterpart saying his comments "exposed" him and that Pakistan has "no respect for Sikh sentiments".

Qureshi took to Twitter on Sunday to respond to the criticisms. 

"Dragging my comment towards 'Sikh sentiments' is a deliberate attempt to misrepresent & mislead. What I said was strictly with ref to bilateral interaction with the Indian Govt," he tweeted.

"We have deep respect for Sikh sentiments and no amount of distortions or controversies would change it," he said.

Qureshi also said the Kartarpur Corridor was opened to fulfil the desires of the Sikh community.

"In deference to the long-standing desires of our Sikh brethren, we decided to open the Kartarpur Corridor. We have taken this historic initiative in good faith and will carry it forward in good faith," he tweeted.

Earlier in a series of tweets on Saturday, Swaraj said,"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'." 

"Let me explain to you that we were not trapped by your 'googlies'. Our two Sikh Ministers went to Kartarpur Sahib to offer prayers in the Holy Gurudwara," she said.

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Qureshi noted that it was the same Indian government that had said it will not engage with Pakistan sent two ministers to the groundbreaking ceremony.