The Kartarpur Corridor is a border corridor between Pakistan and India, connecting the Sikh shrine of Dera Baba Nanak Sahib which is located in Punjab, India, and Gurdwara Darbar Sahib which is located in Punjab, Pakistan. The Kartarpur Corridor was first proposed in early 1999 by the former prime ministers of India and Pakistan, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Nawaz Sharif, respectively, as part of the Delhi-Lahore Bus diplomacy. From then till today, it had been in the cold bag. It was started in 2018 by both countries. The corridor has been completed for the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev on 12 November 2019.
India and Pakistan agreed to build the Kartarpur corridor for Sikh pilgrims to visit the Gurdwara in Kartarpur located in Pakistan. Both the countries were committed to build the required infrastructure for visa-free direct travel by Sikh pilgrims to Pakistan’s Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara. From Dera baba Nayak to Kartarpur, it is approximately 6 km long in which it is 2km inside the Pakistan and rest is on Indian side. Until now, most Indian devotees have had to contend with a darshan using binoculars installed at Dera Baba Nanak Sahib. This can be considered a big development since despite the India-Pakistan deadlock in talks.
Under the agreement, Pakistan will charge a very nominal USD 20 from every Indian Sikh pilgrim for a single trip. India continues to urge this issue with the Government of Pakistan to reconsider its insistence on levying the fee. Indian pilgrims who enter Pakistan through the Kartarpur corridor will not be allowed to visit other gurdwaras in the Punjab province of that country. They would have to go via the normal route, after applying for a visa, and paying the requisite fees. The fee has triggered a political controversy within India, and Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh has called the fee a “jazia” tax on pilgrims.
In November 2018, Times of India reported that, even the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, compared the decision to go ahead with the corridor by the two countries to the fall of the Berlin Wall, saying that the project may help in easing tensions between the two countries. It was seen through optimistic optics in India until the real face of Pakistan revealed. Many strategic thinkers like Vikram Sood and Suhasini Haider has expressed their apprehensions regarding development of Kartarpur corridor in their writings.
History also suggests the same. The Treaty of Versailles was signed in June 1919 in a hostile environment after the first World War intended to bring peace in Europe. It was based on the principles of Woodrow Wilson’s 14 points speech (1918). Treaty was harsh on Germany and served as a humiliation for the Germans. The humiliating conditions of the treaty rankled Germans for years and in many ways led to the rise of Nazism in Germany. Hitler further used the nationalistic propaganda to imbibe hatred in Germans which culminated into the Jews holocaust during the second World War.
On the same line, defeat of Pakistan in the hand of India in Indo-Pakistan war 1971 was so humiliating for Pakistan that they are still in the mindset of revenge. This war was the message for Pakistan that Pakistan could not win conventional war against India. The massive humiliation in the form of partition of Pakistan had proliferated the ego of revenge. Zia-ul-Haq implemented Bhutto’s “thousand years war” with ‘Bleed India Through A Thousand Cuts’ doctrine using covert and low intensity warfare with militancy and infiltration. This doctrine was first attempted during the Punjab insurgency and then in Kashmir insurgency using India’s western border with Pakistan. I believe Kartarpur corridor is also one of the step of their plan.
Pakistan is thirsty to take revenge from India. Their textbooks are full of hatred against India by distorting the historical facts, figure and one sided analysis. I witnessed Pakistan’s intention for Kartarpur when former PM of India Dr. Manmohan Singh was invited first through social media by external minister of Pakistan, Shah Mehmood Qureshi. There was dilemma before India. On one side there is matter of Sikh faith which is also a very sensitive issue. It may once again ignites the bloodshed in Punjab like 70s and 80s, if government of India reacts adversely.
The way Pakistan invited Dr. Manmohan Singh, was the first indication of Pakistan’s intention for Kartarpur corridor. It seemed like Pakistan was appeasing the Sikhs of India through this program. Way of invitation was not legitimate. It’s not personal function of Imran khan that he could invite friends from other side of the border. Official invitation should be done through proper channel. How could Pakistan be so friendly in such a hostile situation? It was the matter of suspicion. Country which is not allowing airspace for Indian PM flight, how can the same Pakistan break the ‘wall of Berlin’ for people to people connect and peace. But recent activities of Pakistan has confirmed their real intention behind Kartarpur corridor.
Real intentions of Pakistan is the appeasement of Sikhs in India in order to give a new push to Khalistan movement. Peace is merely a face of this program. There are various examples which prove the same. The 4-minute-long video, released by Pakistan’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting shows a clip of Sikh pilgrims visiting a gurdwara in Pakistan with a poster of Khalistan separatists Bhindranwale, General Shabeg Singh and Amrik Singh Khalsa in the backdrop is an evidence of their appeasement. In the same video a poster of “Refrendum 2020” is shown hanging in the backdrop of the creation.
Earlier, Khalistan supporters, Gopal Chawala was put up in the Kartarpur committee as Secretary of Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC). When India protested against it, then only they removed his name from the committee. It should not have any geo-political flavor. It should have limited only to the objective for which it was created after a long time. In November 2019, Indian intelligencies have reported that they have spotted terrorist training camps in the Narowal District where the gurdwara is situated. This is a matter of grave concern for India’s security. Many scholars like Suhasini Haider, Vikram Sood as well as Punjab PM Amarinder Singh have warned that India must be careful of the Pakistan’s activities.
After Bhindranwale poster, Pakistan displays ‘Indian bomb’ at Durbar Sahib in Kartarpur. A board erected by Pakistan authorities next to the exhibit featuring a small bomb claims with a notice that it was dropped on the shrine by the Indian Air Force during the 1971 war. Nothing could be more than clear indication of Pakistan’s intention.
The board further states: “Indian Air Force dropped this Bomb during 1971 at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Sri Kartarpur Sahib with the aim to destroy it. However, this evil design could not be materialized due to blessing of Waheguru Ji (Almighty Allah). The said bomb landed into Sri Khoo Sahib (Sacred Well) and this Darbar Sahib remained unheart (sic). It is pertinent to mention that this is the same sacred well from where Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji used to get water to irrigate his fields.”
An article in Times of India quotes a source within India’s intelligence establishment as saying, “We have confirmed reports that Pakistan’s ISI had allotted management of a few gurdwaras to militants who have now been shifted to safe havens but we suspect that they will meet and try to provoke gullible pilgrims at Kartarpur.” In July 2019, an Indian delegation handed over a 23-page dossier to Islamabad that detailed the way pro-Khalistan groups have had a free run within Pakistan and how their activities have increased manifold since 2018. In that dossier it has been pointed out, according to reports, how radical Sikh separatist groups had set up a Khalistan stage at the Nankana Sahib.
Pakistan has started working its propaganda machinery coupled with dog whistling. Mirza Aslam Beg, a former Pakistan army chief, has quite openly said that Kartarpur corridor shall be used to reignite the Khalistani movement since terror ‘jihad’ is the only way to “teach India a lesson”. It further clarifies their intention towards Kartarpur Corridor. Earlier, Pakistan PM Imran khan told that with any valid ID, Kartarpur pilgrims will be able to travel. But at the end moment, Pakistan is deliberately playing pressure tactics by making ‘Passport’ compulsory for the pilgrims.
As reported by “The Print”, PM of Pakistan, Imran Khan caught in a video where he allegedly having a conversation with his colleagues about former PM Manmohan Singh’s presence at the Kartarpur corridor inauguration. Imran Khan allegedly asks – “Manmohan aa gaya (Has Manmohan arrived?),”. Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, the Pakistan Information and Broadcasting Minister responded with half sentence to Khan –“Usko rokenge toh (If they stop him)”, in between Imran Khan interrupted and completed the sentence, “use hero banayenge (they will make him a hero).” Subsquently Awan added – “Sari channels par yehi news hogi (All news channels will carry just this news),”
India today reported that in the same viral video Imran Khan asked about Siddhu “Hamaara Sidhu Kidhar Hai?”. When Siddhu came to deliver speech, he didn’t stop himself to designate Imran khan as “Imam of peace” who won the heart of the world. Imran Khan with the help of Siddhu has been successful in hitting the target. In his speech at inauguration, Imran Khan tried to appease Sikhs. There was no point to talk about the Kashmir in such ceremony. But deliberately Khan dragged Kashmir issue emotionally. Main purpose of Pakistan behind doing so is to create inferiority complexes in the heart of Sikhs for Kashmiris through false narrative.
Way of invitation for former PM Manmohan Singh, Making Siddhu as chief guest of Kartarpur inauguration, Putting Khalistani (Goapal Chawla) in Kartarpur committee, Indian intelligence reports regarding terrorist camps nearby, Putting Khalistani militants Bhinderwale and poster of “Referendum 2020” in promo video, Presenting sample of bomb before Gurudwara through fabricated notice, Viral video about Manmohan Singh and Navjot Singh Siddhu and talking about Kashmiri through one sided emotional way are enough evidences to prove the real intention of Pakistan. Congratulation of Indian government who managed the dilemma cleverly, created by Pakistan.
End game of Pakistan is to revive the Khalistan movement once again which is now in the cold bag. There are sufficient evidences on ground that Pakistan is trying to galvanize the Kashmiri and Khalistani separatist movements to intensify its asymmetric war against India. A fringe Khalistani group based in the US called “Sikhs for Justice” is attempting to promote the “Referendum 2020” movement by using the corridor with support from Pakistan’s spy agency ISI. Pakistan lives in the imaginary world. They deem that Sikhs of Punjab and Muslims of Kashmir would help them in their program. Neither Sikhs nor Kashmiri had helped Pakistan in the past wars.
Indian Sikhs should not forget that Pakistan doesn’t care anybody. Even Pakistan doesn’t leave the people of their own religion whether it is Shia, Mojahir or Ahmadia. Non-Muslims are out of the syllabus of Pakistan’s social structure. Recently, in September, Jagjit Kaur, the Sikh girl who was kidnapped from her home, converted to Islam and married to a Muslim boy, has still not returned home. Such kind of incidences happen regularly in Pakistan. Minority persecution can be understood through statistics claimed by India at UNGA 2019. India rightly claimed that 23% of non-Muslim minority population in Pakistan in 1947 has fallen to approximately 3%.
I believe that it is one of the failures of our leaders during partition. Leaders should have intervened in the process of demarcating the boundaries during independence when boundary commission was taking its shape. If Sikhs would live in India then why Kartarpur will go to Pakistan? We must not forget that Sikhs were the most persecuted in the process of Partition. It is just 2km inside Pakistan. Thus, Like Bangladesh, If India reaches to any boundary agreement with Pakistan in future, then, India should keep Kartarpur in mind.
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