Vijay Sagar Dheman
Inauguration of Kartarpur corridor is yet another historic milestone in the mired and chequered sequence of the history of division of the sub-continent. The holy shrine revered by millions of Sikhs and Hindus was allowed to be in Pakistan by a mere draw of line on the map by Reddcliff commission in July 1947. The very fact that this shrine should have been part of Indian territory (a mere four Kms from International Border inside Pakistan) and was allowed to be left in Pakistan, vindicates the stand that preparation for the independence/partition of India by the British was a hasty step taken without much of discussion/deliberation on it.
After independence despite much of representation from India, Pakistan did not accede to the request from India to open it for pilgrims (Sikh and Hindus) from India. During those times, the Pakistan had the money and support of western powers as well as its Muslim allies. Due to this overt support, Pakistan was emboldened to engineer insurgencies first in Punjab (Khalistan) and then in Kashmir. Due to an unending stream of dollars, riyals and assured support from USA, NATO allies and OIC, Pakistan could openly promote its Jihadi plans and ‘Ghawza-e-Hind’. Hence, conceding any kind of concession to Indians was unthinkable in Pakistani scheme of things
However, today scenarios in different. The geopolitical leverage Pakistan enjoyed in sub continent has diminished with some support from China still available. Externally, USA or NATO countries don’t find Pakistan as lucrative in Afghanistan or Indian Ocean as it used be, due to dynamic transformation of tenets of world order and diplomacy. Arab (Muslims) countries have woken up to challenging economic realities of the contemporary world order. Internally, Pakistan economy is in mess and the civil institutions are tamed by military. The domiciles” sword effectively operated by FATF is looming large an economic stress of Pakistan.
Radicalization as an off shoot of operations of AL Qaida and Jihadi elements all protected and nurtured by ISI is on the peak. Political establishment run by PM Imran Khan is losing effective control over the institutions as well as events. In wake of this, the deep state in Pakistan had no other alternative but to open this corridor to showcase itself as a moderate, victimized and liberal religious outfit in front of the domestic constituency as well as the outside world.
Now the question arises, “Has Pakistan deep state become benevolent overnight and has acceded to long pending demand of Sikh and Hindu groups in India?” Benevolence from deep state of Pakistan can be expected only with a pinch of salt because of analysis of the roles played by powers centers in Pakistan as well for historical reasons. So what could be the potential reasons of this overt display of magnanimity towards India? Firstly, the deep state of Pak(ISI) sees a window of opportunity to redeem its image on world stage where everyone overtly and covertly believes that Pakistan is a nursery to breed terror organizations operating all over the world. This gesture has a possibility of softening the beleaguered radical and terrorist image of Pakistan. Secondly, the army establishment in Pakistan sees it a chance to revive the sentiments to flame the theories of Khalistan amongst the radicals in Sikh community. Pakistan is hopeful of support from the dormant groups in Canada for espousing the cause of Khalistan. The display of photographs of Bhinderwalaan, display of remnants of alleged ammunition dropped by IAF at Kartarpur Sahib in 1971 war and display of crowd with Khalistan flags in promotional videos are few indicator in this direction. Thirdly, levying of a fee of 20$ dollars per person (with limit of 5000 pilgrimage per day) amounts to 20*5000*365 = 36,500,000 dollars per year i.e 3.5 million dollars in foreign exchange. This money (foreign exchange), reportedly to be spent on up keep of the precincts of Gurudwara Sahib, will actually be used by Pakistan to train and perpetrate terror acts against the same subjects of India who pay it with divine reverence.
The civilian population in Pakistan, too, is rife with myriad suspicions/hypothesis. There are apprehensions of some kind of a swap by Pakistani establishment with India between the Kartarpur corridor and Kadiyani shrine in Indian Punjab, to “Rah Dari in Kartapur and Mara Mari in Kashmir”, to laying a foundation of future United Punjab with Pakistani Sikh as President and an Indian Sikh as Prime Minister, to appeasing with undue privileges for Infediel Ahmadias in Pakistan.
Notwithstanding the popular apprehensions of civil population, this could well be a veiled stance which would be a win win situation for the deep state of Pakistan. The Army (ISI) gets a smooth play ground to realize its dreams to rejuvenate Khalistan theory and keep itself relevant in Pak internal dynamics. The govt. of India needs to take due cognizance of the events and should draw an orchestrated plan to counter any such move to nip the malady in bud itself. The positions on Indian sides , however, are clear and encouraging. The government in India, needs to be careful and must take some proactive measures to closely monitor this situation. However, the positives on our sides are, firstly, the India population in Punjab are fully aware of the plans of ISI and will not fall prey to engineered propaganda. Secondly, even ISI today is no longer an old times motivated, radicalized force and loaded with dollars and Riyals. Their resources are limited and even the drug money from Afghan border too has largely dried. Thirdly, extension of Gen Bajwa, COAS, for three years has created some fissures with in Pakistan establishment. Certain losers because of this extension of tenure are covertly unhappy thereby reducing the tolerance to a major policy shift. Finally, even a normal sane Pakistani has realized the havoc the Pakistani Army establishment has caused to their national prestige, economy, culture and day to day affairs. Despite crackdown and monitoring/gaging the media and disdainful voices, the debates have started in Pakistani intellectual circles against the jihadi agenda. India should keep a hawk’s eye on the proceedings in highly intimate manner and sincerely pray to Wahe Guru to dispense the Pakistani establishment with sane mind not to tamper with the faith of millions of Sikhs and Hindus all over the world. This Kartarpur corridor should prove to be a harbinger of civility and sanity for humanity in this sub-continent as advocated by our reverend Guru Nanak Dev Ji.
Vijay Sagar Dheman