Rather than walking the path with Pakistan to protect the rights of the Sikhs and using it as a bridge to forge peace, India is using subversive tactics which are not only demoralizing to Pakistan but also to the Sikh community.
Pakistan’s attempt to break the chains of the past has yet again been politicized by India as a nefarious design on the part of Pakistan to revive the Khalistan movement. In reality it is a vote of no confidence in making peace with Pakistan and demoralizing for the people on both sides of the border. It has portrayed the psyche of India in using religious cards to politicize and violate the rights and sentiments of the Sikhs in Punjab.
Every year hundreds and thousands of Sikh devotees come from India and all over the world to Kartarpur to celebrate Baba Guru Nanak’s birth anniversary. Kartarpur is located in the Narowal district of Pakistan’s Punjab province. Around three kilometers away from the border with India, Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara is located on the banks of the Ravi River in Pakistan and is the site where the founder of Sikhism, Baba Guru Nanak Sahib, spent the last years of his life before dying in 1539.
The Pakistani government has inaugurated the 4.7 kilometer-long Kartarpur Corridor on the 550th birth anniversary (9 November, 2019) of Baba Guru Nanak. It was an arduous decision for Prime Minister Imran Khan (PMIK) to open this corridor as Kashmiris have been suffering from the continuous curfew by the Indian police for more than three months. Even then PMIK stood for South Asia’s peace and continued his modus operandi. It is part of the Khan Doctrine to settle every conflict through peace talks either in the case of Afghanistan or Kashmir.
PMIK has made it clear to India when he said; “There have been mistakes on both sides in the past, but we will not be able to move forward until we break the chains of the past. The past is there only to teach us, not for us to live in.” Even then the Indian government is not ready to positively react and pay heed to the peace gestures by Pakistan. India Today reported that the Chief Minister of Punjab Amarinder Singh alleged in an exclusive interview that the Pakistan Army and the ISI were behind the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor.
It is interesting to note that in February 2019, while the development work over the Kartarpur Corridor was in full swing, that both India and Pakistan were blaming each other for escalating tensions along the LoC after the Pulwama attack. With the general elections in India just around the corner, the BJP had used this as an opportunity to appease the Sikh community and weaken the Indian National Congress’ foothold in the Punjab province. Considering the current hostile situation between the two neighbors, rather than constructing the Kartarpur Corridor as a peace gesture, the Indian government has reverted back to politicizing the holy sites of Sikhism.
This corridor can serve to not only as a gateway of religious and cultural diplomacy to promote peace and harmony by bringing people of the two countries together, but also has the prospect of elevating tourism in Pakistan. According to a study conducted by the World Bank, it is analyzed that if facilities are provided in full scale and a marketing strategy is implemented effectively, religious tourism could exceed 300,000 people a year, yielding profits of up to $300 million annually. This can also help Pakistan promote its soft image around the world.
Rather than walking the path with Pakistan to protect the rights of the Sikhs and using it as a bridge to forge peace, India is using subversive tactics which are not only demoralizing to Pakistan but also to the Sikh community. The former editor RSS magazine “Organizer”, Seshadri Chari, went even further and proposed a two-pronged approach to the Hindu hardline BJP, which to me will only lead to a military confrontation between Pakistan and India.
He says; first, the government should constitute a strategic group which should devise an immediate action plan to frustrate Pakistan’s attempts to revive the Khalistan movement through ‘Referendum 2020’ by pushing militants (in the guise of pilgrims) via the corridor. Second, the group must work on a long-term, fool-proof plan to obtain physical control of Kartarpur Sahib and make it a part of Indian Punjab, as it was before Partition in 1947.
This is an empirical evidence of the typical hardline Hindu mindset that has been at war with Pakistan for 70 years, and has never accepted the reality of Pakistan. It also shows that India is ready to engineer a direct military confrontation with Pakistan but will not allow Pakistan to provide rights to the Sikh community. The world does not want another Indian episode of drama in South Asia. The world seeks peace and peace in South Asia lies in the peace between Pakistan and India. If India continued is policy of obligating the peace initiatives of Pakistan, South Asia may never see peace.
By Sabtain Ahmed Dar
Source: One World