If there is one defining characteristic of the current regime’s Pakistan policy, it is about going ‘back and forth’ – repeatedly. Every policy is so full of ‘paradox’ that it leads to an atmosphere of ‘uncertainty’. This time again, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s analogy of the fall of ‘Berlin Wall’ to indicate how the widening gulf in the Indo-Pak relationship could be bridged, is in contrast with foreign minister Sushma Swaraj’s simultaneous statement in Delhi. Swaraj underlined how Kartarpur could not be linked to any resumption of the dialogue process, indicating that ‘terror and talks cannot go together’.
By using the metaphor of falling ‘Berlin Wall’ for the Kartarpur corridor – our Prime Minister jumped the gun by elevating the peace initiative to another level. The BJP can hardly brand Sidhu as an ‘anti-national’ when it sends two of their union ministers to represent India at the inauguration in Pakistan.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan holding a ground-breaking ceremony for a unique corridor that will connect Kartarpur on the Pakistani side to Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur in India, allowing pilgrims visa-free access down it — a 4-km leap that seemed impossible in the violent history of the region and the two countries, was a historic moment for both the nations.
The Kartarpur Sahib has special religious significance as it was here that Guru Nanak assembled a Sikh community and spent the final 18 years of life. Sikh jathas are known to visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib on four occasions every year – Guru Nanak’s birth anniversary, Baisakhi, Guru Arjan Dev’s martyrdom day and Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s death anniversary.
While what prompted this sudden burst of bonhomie is likely to remain a matter of debate, the announcement strangely coincided with the 10th anniversary of the 26/11 attacks – the mastermind of which, continue to roam freely in Pakistan. Even more important is the question — why is Pakistan so keen to push ahead with this Corridor now? There is no evidence on the ground that Pakistan is genuinely interested in making peace with India. The flames of terrorism and separatism, not just in Kashmir but also in Punjab are being reignited from time to time. The latest attack on the Nirankari Bhawan, the Khalistan propaganda in Pakistan and Western countries, the entire Referendum 2020 programme is something which cannot be ignored by anyone.
Moreover what raises apprehensions are the statements coming from the Pakistani side. Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi boasted that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s “googly” had forced the Indian government to send its ministers across the border for engagement despite its reservations. “The entire world saw, that yesterday Imran Khan threw the ‘Kartarpur googly’ at India. What was the result? India, who was hesitant to engage, had to send across two of their ministers,” he said at the 100-day celebration event for the Imran Khan government.
Hence, all these things raise some valid concerns and reservations on the part of India, and therefore we need to keep a close watch on the current happenings on the ground and must keep a track on all the future developments on this front – so that any evil intention can be fought off in a befitting manner.
Meanwhile, amongst all this, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has also hailed the central government’s decision to clear a proposal to develop a corridor.“It’s a good initiative to open the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor,” he has said.