Kartarpur to Kashmir

The opening of the Kartarpur corridor is a dream of lifetime which has come true for crores of Sikh followers and admirers of Guru Nanak.
Kartarpur to Kashmir

The opening of the Kartarpur corridor is a dream of lifetime which has come true for crores of Sikh followers and admirers of Guru Nanak. A place where Guru Nanak or Nanak Badshah, as he is lovingly called, spent last 18 years of his life, tilling the land and giving the good message of peace and fellow-feeling, had remained out of bounds for its followers in India. Just four kilometres away from the international border in Punjab yet these four kilometres on the side of Pakistan were not allowed to be crossed. A telescope was fixed at the border for the devotees to come and take a look at the Kartarpur Sahab Gurudwara. Eventually, what statesmen could not achieve, what politicians with mass following could not accomplish, what track II and track I diplomacy could not pull off, has been consummated by the friendship of two former cricketers. Imran Khan and Navjot Singh Sidhu carried out what was only a dream for the top political and diplomatic brains of India and Pakistan.

The hug between Bajwa and Sidhu was incidental, or may be an attempt to boost what had previously been promised between the premier of Pakistan and Navjot Singh Sidhu. Braving odds, the ones mounted by anti-dialogue lobby, the effervescent Sikh joined the swearing in ceremony of Imran Khan. It was around that time that the rumours of Kartarpur corridor began to make rounds. In fact, before the swearing in ceremony of Khan, Sidhu could be heard talking about the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak and Kartarpur corridor. He believed it to be a gift to the believers of Guru Nanak. The Bajwa hug was to put a signature on the promise made by the premier, probably unneeded but one which was used to reinforce the opening of the corridor. The guillotining of Sidhu in India by media, by friends and foes, is a reminder of both the contradictions within the right wing in India and the determination to stall any peace initiative with Pakistan until the next Lok Sabha elections are over.

On the one hand, the right wing in India, to quote Mohan Bhagwat, is "getting impatient" with the delay in the construction of the Temple at Ayodhya, on the other hand the same object Sidhu and his ilk for the urgency and zest shown in opening the Kartarpur corridor. The right wing in India is fine if it can glorify and idolise those who champion the cause of the Temple but those who champion opening a pathway to the sacred site for the Sikhs are demonised. The right wing is fine to even make the champion of Hindutva and the Temple as Prime Minister of India but the one who, in honor of the wishes and aspirations of Sikhs, praises a person who has the will and capacity to open the Kartarpur corridor, is put on the chopping block. The latter is made into an enemy of the nation, a treacherous character but the former are elevated as guardians of the motherland. Is it because that a Gurudwara is different from a Temple, and the former can wait while the latter has to be prioritised? The media has gone beserk, following the footsteps of the rightwing, and is scanning each photo of Sidhu for a whiff of anti-India air to catch on and blaze the same across the air waves, and call for his exit to Pakistan forever. Gopal Singh is a case in point. He appeared from somewhere in the frame of Sidhu and the yellow turban of Gopal Singh is all over the mass media, alongside the green one of Sidhu. With the uninterrupted focus on the lively and poetic Sikh, one can only hope for a safe life for him in future. There are few who are not aiming for his neck, even some of his own who feel his ways as bad politics in election season.

In a truly secular country in which diverse religious sentiments are equally respected, the opening of Kartarpur Corridor would have been celebrated as a milestone. However, we witness the contrary attitude. The Prime Minister who bewails the role of the opposition, in delaying the hearing of the Ayodhya case has not just delayed but withheld the Foreign Minister from attending the Ground Breaking ceremony at Kartarpur. The irony is that a religious state like Pakistan, with an obvious bias in its constitution and character towards the majority religion, despatched her Prime minister, top cabinet members, the Army Chief and main media men to hail the opening of the corridor which is not even remotely connected to Muslims. Not even one party or person, religious or otherwise, questioned the Prime Minister for providing overwhelming attention to the place and function of "infidels."

It is hoped that once the elections in India are over, the peace moves are also made from the side of India as well, and Pakistan is not rudely rebuffed for its desires of peace under the new Premiere. Although, issues like Kartarpur or Kashmir should not be subject to domestic electioneering, and freed from narrow politics, with immediate interests in mind. However, they are, and we have to perhaps live with that, and wait whether Modi will survive, and if he does whether he will come out in a new avatar and walk that first step sought by Khan. Or whether he will calcify his current image, and refuse to hold dialogue. If it is the latter, then Sidhu will have to pay through his turban, Khan will have to wait, and Kashmir will continue to bleed. Whether Kartarpur spirit can be replicated in Kashmir will be determined, to a large extent, by the coming elections. Those asked to bend will learn to crawl or risk being stamped out altogether. The issue will remain, as it has in much harder times, but the stiff players will find it difficult to breathe. The fingers remain crossed until after the last vote is cast.


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