Zahid Nabi

Captain’s Grand Gesture

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But, will peace pass through Kartarpur corridor?

Unlike that of Narendra Modi, I don’t know what size Imran Khan’s chest is, nor do I have any interest in knowing it. But considering his moves, he seems to be owning a larger heart, at least metaphorically, as ever since he led his party to a thumping win in elections outclassing all shareefs, Bhuttos and Fazlul Rehmans and became the prime minister of Pakistan, he seems to be working on the promises made to his people. Among his priorities that he spelt out right at the beginning of his political innings, making peace with the neighbors is of utmost importance. When in his post victory speech, Imran khan pledged to take initiatives of confidence building with all the neighbors many would have thought it as a mere symbolic statement suiting the occasion. However as the time passed by, his actions are matching his promises.

During his hundred days of governance, Imran Khan and most of his ministers, have repeatedly asked to erase stains of past and start a new era of confidence and mutual cooperation. With military completely on board and a fragmented opposition unable to trace loopholes, Imran Khan’s initiatives don’t seem to have many opponents in Pakistan. Despite cold response from India, PTI government is taking new initiatives to bring India on table.

Among the initiatives taken so far in order to rebuild a damaged relationship with India, opening of Kartarpur corridor can be considered the best not only from diplomatic perspective but also from the prism of humanity as well. Adherents of Sikhism have been demanding opening of this corridor from last many decades so that that could visit their holiest places. But, till now governments of both sides were reluctant in doing so only to please their constituencies.

The opening of this five kilometre long corridor that connects two prominent Gurduwaras- one on Indian and the other on Pakistani soil- is a step that deserves great appreciation and should be seen as the best way to start a meaningful dialogue to end years of hostility.

Unfortunately, many in India, including those in the government, have already frowned upon this initiative and those who have welcomed it with an unwilling heart want it to be seen in ‘isolation’ refusing to link it with resumption of talks. What is equally surprising is that the Indian cricketer turned politician and Imran Khan’s friend Navjot Singh Sidhu whose personal companionship with Imran Khan helped in the opening of Kartarpur corridor, is being vilified and demeaned as not less than a traitor by many war mongers including most of media men. However most shocking statement came from Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj, who on the day of corridor opening, poured cold water on any possibility of a dialogue by clearly stating that Indian will not be participating in upcoming SAARC summit.

With elections underway in many Indian states and general elections scheduled for next year there seems to be no possibility of willingness of Indian authorities to start a bilateral dialogue. In fact the relationship between the two countries could sour further as politicians will take centre stage and play the age old blame game for winning votes. With BJP’s nearly all of the poll promises unfulfilled, they would hardly afford to perturb and agitate their core constituency, by even being slightly “friendly” towards Pakistan. But for the time being, the cricketer-turned-philanthropist-turned politician, Imran Khan, with the grand gesture of opening Kartarpur corridor, has pleased millions in both the countries and checkmated Indian government with the single stroke.

(Author is a Ph.D. Scholar and can be reached at [email protected])



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