With Pak upping Khalistan ante, why India’s decision on Kartarpur should have been better timed
New Delhi, Nov 26: Last week the Union Cabinet approved the developing of a visa free corridor from Dera Baba Nanak village in Punjab's Gurdaspur district to the Indian side of the international border.
Arun Jaitley said that the Government of India will develop a Kartarpur Corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur, Punjab to the international border to facilitate pilgrims from India to visit the holy Gurudwara Darbaar Sahib Kartarpur on the banks of Rabi river in Pakistan where Guru Nanak Devji spent 18 years.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi compared the development to the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Kartarpur corridor will provide smooth and easy passage to pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib throughout the year. Government of Pakistan will be urged to reciprocate and develop a corridor with suitable facilities in their territory, Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh said.
While this is a very welcome development, the question is with regard to the timing. It has clearly sent out very mixed signals, where relations with Pakistan is concerned. The decision was made just a couple of days after the attack at Amritsar, in which three persons died. The Chief Minister of Punjab Captain Amarinder Singh pointed a finger directly at Pakistan, while blaming the ISI sponsored groups for the attack.
The decision may be significant politically. The demand for a visa free Kartarpur Sahib corridor is not a new one. It was mooted first during Atal Bihari Vajpayee's bus ride to Lahore in 1999.
This is a very sensitive issue among the Sikh community. In this context if one were to look at it, then the decision can be termed as a politically significant one.
However the decision comes in the backdrop of very strong indications that Pakistan is trying to re-open the Khalistan issue in a big way. Moreover the borders have not been quiet either and Pakistan has resorted to unprovoked firing several times in the past couple of weeks.
The decision on Kartarpur also came on a day, when the Ministry for External Affairs issued a strong statement against Pakistan accusing the country of harassing Indian diplomats. The statement came in the wake of Pakistan denying Indian diplomats consular access to Indian Sikh pilgrims who are visiting holy shrines in Pakistan.
The release also expressed concern at Pakistan provoking Khalistan separatism and termed this as an attempt to incite communal disharmony.
Now adding salt to the injury is the date that has been fixed to lay the foundation stone for the Kartarpur Corridor at Dera Baba Nanak on November 26 ie today.
Incidentally today happens to be the 10th anniversary of the Mumbai 26/11 attack that was planned, plotted and launched from Pakistan. Vice President of India, Venkaiah Naidu and Captain Singh will be laying the foundation stone today.
Experts believe that the decision on Kartarpur is a good one. It may help in the long run where ties are concerned. It may also help keep the International Border quiet. However these are ifs and buts and knowing Pakistan's track record, the country has never known how to honour peace. To sum it, the decision overall looks good, but the timing could have been better.