ISLAMABAD - Pakistan has asked India not to give lessons to Islamabad over the ideology and respond to the Islamic Republic’s peace efforts, officials said.

Senior officials at the foreign ministry told The Nation that Indian army chief Bipin Rawat’s controversial statement had been taken up at the diplomatic level and New Delhi was urged to avoid interference.

One official said India was asked to respond to Pakistan’s efforts for peace rather than telling Pakistan to change its ideology. “Our ideology can’t be changed but Indian mindset needs to be changed. This is what we have told them (India),” the official said.

Another official said Pakistan had told India that minorities in the country were given equal rights unlike India where Muslims and the Christians were victimised.

Last day, General Rawat said that Pakistan had to develop as a ‘secular state’ if it wanted to enjoy good ties with India.

Responding to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s statement regarding peace and dialogue between the two countries, he said it was Pakistan’s turn to show practical action against terrorism.

Yesterday, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi termed the remarks of Bipin Rawat ‘illogical’. He said that the ideology of Pakistan cannot be changed at any cost. “Opening of Kartarpur corridor may improve Pakistan and India relations,” he added.

He said: “We took this initiative without any outside pressure to fulfill the desire of Sikh community so they can easily visit their holy places in Pakistan.”

On November 28, PM Khan laid the foundation of the Kartarpura corridor for visa-free entry to the Indian Sikh yatrees (pilgrims). Pakistan and India will open Kartarpura corridor for Baba Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary, in November next year.

The corridor is aimed at giving Indian pilgrims easy access to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur on the banks of the Ravi River, in Pakistan, where Guru Nanak Dev spent 18 years.

It was former Indian cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu, who made the first announcement that Pakistan was willing to open the Kartarpura corridor. He was passed on this information by Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa during the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Khan in August.

Meanwhile yesterday, Pakistan rejected negative propaganda campaign in Indian media against the ‘Kartarpura corridor’ initiative. “We are deeply dismayed at the relentless negative propaganda campaign being waged by a section of the Indian media against Pakistan on the Kartarpura corridor initiative,” Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammed Faisal said.

He added: “We categorically reaffirm that the initiative to open this corridor has been taken by the government of Pakistan solely in deference to the longstanding wishes of our Sikh brethren, and especially in the wake of the forthcoming 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak Dev ji. Attributing any other motives is purely malicious.”

He said Pakistan received overwhelmingly positive response from the Sikh community – not only in Pakistan and India but also from across the globe.

“The government and people of Pakistan fully share their joy on this historic breakthrough and solemnly affirm that they will make every possible contribution to a befitting celebration of the auspicious occasion of Baba Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary in 2019,” he added.

Faisal said Pakistan was convinced that those seeking to sow negativity around this initiative for partisan purposes or due to their known anti-Pakistan proclivities will not succeed in their designs. The government of Pakistan, he said, will continue do what is right for advancing this noble initiative.

“We are pleased that distinguished guests from India, both from the centre and from the (Indian) Punjab, were able to join Prime Minister Imran Khan during the ground-breaking ceremony at Kartarpura on 28 November, 2018. The presence of thousands of Sikh yatrees visiting Pakistan from India and other parts of the world made the occasion even more poignant,” the spokesperson said.

Pakistan, he said, would now proceed with the development of the physical infrastructure for the corridor on its side of the international border. “We also look forward to working out necessary details and modalities with the Indian side concerning the passage through the corridor,” he said.

The spokesperson said the inauguration of the corridor project on both sides had “created another moment of hope for the peoples of Pakistan and India. We hope every effort would be made to preserve and take forward the Kartarpura Spirit.”