Faultline Pak: Notwithstanding Kartarpur, no breakthrough in Indo-Pak ties

NEW DELHI: Despite Kartarpur Corridor development, there is no much improvement in Indo-Pak relations and this is largely due to politics of one-upmanship being pursued by Islamabad in order to score brownie points.
Sources in the BJP and its key Punjab-based ally Akali Dal say numerous times, Pakistani leaders have tried to show Indian diplomatic engine in poor light and every time they are “caught”, the Pakistani politicians either make U-turn or offer “only an alternative interpretation” of events.
Right from the Kartarpur function itself on November 28, Pakistani establishment has played up their ‘Sidhu card’ largely owing to the cricketing background of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Indian politician Navjot Singh Sidhu.
So much has been ‘the influence’ on Mr Sidhu – that the ‘sixer Sidhu’ – a name given to him in cricket field – has hailed Pakistani establishment more than once and credited it for “taking the first step” in improving Indo-Pak ties.
Paradoxically, so much is the claim ‘unconvincing’ that even his Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, a committed Congress leader of years of experience in public life, had personally disapproved of Mr Sidhu’s ‘hugging’ the Pakistan army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa and also ‘visiting’ Kartarpur on November 28.
BJP sources said: “Mr Sidhu is in some kind of amnesia as he has forgotten how Kargil happened, how Indian Parliament attack was attacked and how lately Pakistan tried to inflict harm to India in Uri and also in Pathankot”.
A BJP leader has pointed out that ever since the time of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, everytime India took a major step, Pakistani establishment in cohorts with Pakistan army had only ‘reciprocated’ negatively.
“The Kargil happened immediately after PM Vajpayee went on bus trip to Lahore. In 2001 December, Parliament was attacked months after Agra talks failed.
Even under UPA, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tried hard to push for a cordial with Pakistan and in 2008, apparently substantial progress was made. But it was scuttled by Gen Pervez Musharraf, it was later said”.
In 2011 again, Dr Manmohan Singh, sources said, tried and the then PM Yousaf Raza Gilani was invited to witness a Cricket World Cup match in Mohali. But again it was ‘scuttled’.
However, BJP sources said, Dr Singh’s dispensation had erred post Mumbai attack in 2008 and gave ‘wrong signal’ by willing to talk to Islamabad despite Mumbai 26/11.
Even foreign experts later said, this was a wrong signal to Pakistan. Since then, Pakistan has argued for keeping the Mumbai 26/11 aside from any bilateral engagement,” a BJP source said.
In 2013 – also under the Manmohan Singh regime, relations between the two countries deteriorated rapidly over a series of border incidents and ceasefire violations by Pakistan.
The then Pak PM Nawaz Sharif had promised a “New Beginning” with India but that dramatically turned into a tale of anger and hostility. Parliaments of the two countries also had passed resolutions condemning each other.
Even a perceived ‘hardliner’ Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initial months reaching out to Pakistan did not yield any positive results.
According to official sources, Pakistan had violated the ceasefire across the Line of Control 449 times in 2016, a modest increase from 405 violations in 2015. As many as 23 security personnel were killed in the two-year period.
There was a 230 per cent increase in ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC) in 2017 compared to 2016.
In 2017, Pakistan violated ceasefire 771 times along the LoC, a figure that was hotly debated in the Lok Sabha as well.
BJP and Akali Dal sources have said that the Pakistan establishment is deliberately trying to play up the ‘Kartarpur Corridor’ episode and none other country’s President Arif Alvi has compared the Imran Khan Government move as ‘a chaal’ (crucial move in the game of chess).
Predictably, Indian leaders and especially Sikhs are hurt. Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri says there could be in fact “anguished introspection”. It is in this context, Harsimrat Kaur Badal waxed eloquently her protest – first when she urged Pakistan Prime Minister to take action against his Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s googly comment.
“As a devout Sikh I feel anyone having deep respect for Sikhism wud not politicise holy initiative of #KartarpurCorridor by calling it ‘googly’ or as a good ‘chaal’ as termed by you and your Prez. Sikhs are not pawns in chess. Pls, don’t play with our faith,” she tweeted.
Her fellow Sikh Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri has also cautioned that Mr Sidhu is perhaps being ‘used’ by Pakistan.
According to BJP sources, the recent developments are “not surprising” as Pakistan Prime Minister in August this year had packed his cabinet with some well known ‘old faces’ and also renowned hardliners.

Nine out of 15 federal ministers – whose names were released by his party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf were senior ‘representatives’ and known faces in the Gen Pervez Musharraf era. There are also a few from Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) era.

They include the likes of Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Foreign Minister, and also new Railway Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, who also served the Gen Musharraf regime as Information Minister. The old voices are making the usual noise, no doubt.

To sum up, it can be said – for about a decade now, Indian leadership and that too confronted with ‘extreme provocation’, has time and again soft-peddled on ideology and tried to mend fences with Pakistan – the results were hardly encouraging though.



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