The Hindu – Kartarpur game plan of ISI, says Amarinder Singh

‘The opening of the Kartarpur Corridor is clearly a game plan of the ISI’

Special Correspondent

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 09 December 2018. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday said the fact that Pakistan Army General Qamar Javed Bajwa had broken news of the opening of the “’Kartarpur corridor” to Punjab Cabinet Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu even before Imran Khan was sworn in as their Prime Minister, was indicative of “a bigger conspiracy hatched by the Pakistan Army.”

An official statement, citing an interview of Captain Amarinder Singh to a TV channel, said, “The opening of the Kartarpur corridor is clearly a game plan of the ISI. A bigger conspiracy seems to have been hatched by the Pakistan Army against India.

Since Partition

Captain Amarinder said the demand for the opening of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor had been pending since Partition as several holy Sikh shrines (Sri Nankana Sahib, Sri Panja Sahib, Dera Sahib and Kartarpur Sahib) had been left in Pakistan.

Even former Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Dr. Manmohan Singh had taken up the issue. He said he himself had raised this issue with his Pakistan Punjab counterpart Parvez Elahi, and with the then President, Pervez Musharraf, during his previous tenure as the chief minister.

“The Sidhu affair was being unnecessarily hyped, and those raising it had clearly failed to see the ISI’s game plan,” he added.

Captain Amarinder said Imran Khan was undoubtedly making efforts to bring peace and harmony to India, but at the same time, he should also prevail upon the top brass of Pakistani Army, “to ensure that killing of our soldiers at the borders is stopped immediately.”

Advertisements – Punjab government approves Rs 1.59 billion to develop and beautify Dera Baba Nanak area

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 04 December 2018. Highly hailing the initiative of India and Pakistan on Kartarpur corridor, the Punjab government has termed the move as a historic step.

A resolution in this concern was passed by the Punjab cabinet on December 3 announcing constitution of a Dera Baba Nanak Development Authority for the development and beautification of the area in and around Dera Baba Nanak ahead of the 550th birthday celebrations of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

It is noteworthy here that the Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh has already announced a slew of development projects for upgrading the infrastructure and facilities for the millions of pilgrims expected to visit the area during the historic occasion, for which the year-long celebrations were kicked off by the state government on November 23 this year.

“The cabinet, at its meeting here, said with the laying of the foundation stone for the corridor, a long-pending demand of the Sikhs had been fulfilled, thus paving the way for opening the way for devotees to visit the historic Kartarpur Gurdwara, close to the Line of Control” reads a press release from the Chief Minister’s Office.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that the Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has sanctioned Rupees 1.59 billion for the beautification of Dera Baba Nanak town.

Sikh24 has learnt that these funds will be used for developing the road running through the main market of Dera Baba Nanak on the lines of the Amritsar heritage street. The project work is expected to begin later this week.

“A sum of Rupees 90 million has been earmarked for improving facilities, including the installation of street lights, within the Municipal Committee limits of the town” informed the local legislator Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa.

He added that Rupees 610 million have been reserved for implementing a project to draw water from the Uppar Bari Doab Canal for supplying the water to 40 villages of the constituency facing water scarcity.

NDTV – “Hope India Will Respond Positively To Kartarpur Corridor”: Pakistan PM

The Sikh community has responded very positively to the effort to open the Kartarpur border, Pakistan PM Imran Khan

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 06 December 2018. Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Pakistan Army on Thursday hoped that India will respond “positively” to Pakistan’s “goodwill gesture” of opening the Kartarpur border for the Sikh pilgrims.

On 28 November Mr Khan laid the foundation stone of the Kartarpur corridor on the Pakistani side while on 26 November Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh laid its foundation stone in Punjab’s Gurdaspur.

The corridor will connect Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak Dev’s final resting place in Pakistan’s Kartarpur to the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district in India, fulfilling a long-pending demand of the Sikh community.

Addressing the Cabinet, Mr Khan said: “Unfortunately the Indian media has given Kartarpur (border opening) a political colour, as if we did this to gain some sort of political mileage… This is not true. We did it because it is part of (the ruling) Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s manifesto,” he said.

“We have religious sites that are important for Hindus and Buddhists; we should open them up and facilitate the people,” Mr Khan said, without explaining.

The Sikh community has responded very positively to the effort to open the Kartarpur border, he said.

“It is to them (Sikhs) what Medina is to us Muslims. We hope that India will also respond positively in return,” the Prime Minister said.

In a separate press conference in Rawalpindi, Director General Major General Asif Ghafoor of army’s media wing Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said Pakistan has taken several positive initiatives for peace with India, and the latest one was the groundbreaking of the Kartarpur corridor.

Mr Ghafoor said that the corridor will be constructed in six months after which 4,000 Sikh pilgrims will be able to visit daily.

“It will be a one-way corridor from the Indian side to Kartarpur, and the Sikh pilgrims will remain restricted to Kartarpur,” the officer added.

Mr Ghafoor also raised concern over the increasing ceasefire violations on the Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary allegedly by the Indian forces, saying 55 civilians have been killed in cross-border aggression this year, the highest in history.

Dawn – The Afghanisation of politics

Cyril Almeida

Op/Ed, 09 December 2018. Call it the Afghanisation of politics. You can guess what they don’t want, but you can’t really be certain about what they do want. And maybe it makes a kind of sense: you can’t ever be defeated if you never say what it is that you really want.

Politics in Pakistan mirroring Pakistan on Afghanistan.

What does Pakistan, the state of Pakistan, want in Afghanistan? Given how obsessed we are, or the state of Pakistan is, with Afghanistan, you’d think there would be an easy, capsule answer to toss out and pop in.

Like: national security! India is the enemy! Politicians are corrupt!

But it’s not all that easy with Afghanistan. You can say with high confidence that the state doesn’t want India in Afghanistan and does want the Taliban to be part of the ruling dispensation. But that’s not really saying all that much.

The Pakistani state doesn’t want India in Afghanistan because it fears encirclement or whatever. Fine, at least it’s some kind of logic. But ‘no India in Afghanistan’ translates into what exactly?

As the government stumbles from crisis to crisis, as ministers begin to knife each other, it’s increasingly hard to figure out what this was and is all about.

No physical presence? No military presence, but economic stuff acceptable? No presence meaning no influence? And no influence with whom: the Pakhtuns or the non-Pakhtuns? And if no influence anywhere, how do we negate India’s ties to the non-Pakhtuns in Afghanistan?

The ‘Taliban in government’ stuff is difficult to flesh out, too. We seem sure, or we say so anyway, that we don’t want to go back to the late ’90s, ie the Taliban outright ruling Afghanistan. But if we don’t want them to rule 100 per cent, then what per cent of power do we want for the Taliban?

Fifty per cent? 75? 25? 40? 10?

Nobody knows. And maybe not even ourselves.

If you don’t say what you want, you can never be defeated.

Contrast that with the Americans and the Afghan government. Wild conspiracy aside, it’s pretty easy to say that the Americans would rather have defeated the Taliban than not. Maybe the Americans would have wanted a residual military presence in Afghanistan, maybe they’d have stuck around to keep an eye on Pakistan and our nukes.

But you can pretty easily assert that the Americans, if they could have, would like to have militarily defeated the Taliban.

Same with the Afghan government. If it could, the Afghan government would rather not have to make peace with the Taliban.

The last Afghan government or this one would rather that the US military or, less likely, the Afghan army have defeated the Taliban, and the Afghan government get more power, more durability and become the long-term political solution in Afghanistan.

You can quite clearly see that no Afghan government will get what it really wants. But at least you can be sure what it, this, the previous or any non-Taliban Afghan government, really wants.

Not so with Pakistan.

And now it has infected politics here. The Afghanisation of politics is really the mysteriousness of what’s going on here. As the government stumbles from crisis to crisis, as ministers begin to knife each other and confusion and chaos reign, it’s increasingly hard to figure out what this was and is all about.

What do they want?

We know that they don’t want Nawaz in. Fine. They hate it when one of their own turns on them, and few have belonged to and turned on as spectacularly as Nawaz has. But after Nawaz, what?

Imran may have been the obvious alternative, but it’s become blindingly obvious that there was zero preparation. And you can’t really blame Imran for that: why should he prepare in the final months for something he had not really prepared for in 22 years?

But at least they could have done some prep. And enforced some discipline.

Aha, but the point is to keep all of them weak: Imran, Nawaz, Asif, whoever. Imran was just the latest beneficiary of the system’s periodic need for a new, or old but compliant, face. Again, plausible.

But there’s weak and then there’s catastrophic. If nothing else, you need the civilian front to stop from collapsing in on itself. Because immediate collapse requires constant hand-holding and in that case no one gets anything done.

Plus there’s the stuff with the other folk.

What on earth is the Shahbaz thing all about? One possibility is that as Imran stumbles and the PTI lists, it’s become necessary to keep the pressure on the other side. Because you can’t afford for your precious experiment to be knocked over so soon.

But Shahbaz? It’s like going out of your way to make an example and enemy of the one chap who was desperate to be your friend. And while he maybe can’t do much for you as your friend, he could do something to you as your enemy.

What do they want?

The Asif stuff is equally puzzling. The GDA was primed, ready and willing to eat into the PPP’s seat count in rural Sindh. If you were going to keep up the pressure on Zardari, as seems obvious before and since the election, then why allow him to sweep to total victory in Sindh?

Of all the levers that you could want and you would want to deny your target, surely a total sweep of his base is a good idea to prevent. If they could do it to Nawaz in Punjab, why not Zardari in Sindh?

What do they want?

For now, we can only guess what they don’t want. The Afghanisation of politics has arrived. And it may be the greatest head-scratcher yet.

The writer is a member of staff.

Dawn – Pakistan – India trade much below full potential: World Bank

Mubarak Zeb Khan

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 06 December 2018. Trade between Pakistan and India is only valued at a little over $2 billion, but it could be as high as $37 billion, says a World Bank report.

The current trade between the two countries is much below its full potential. It could only be harnessed if both countries agreed to tear down artificial barriers.

The bank also estimated Pakistan’s potential trade with South Asia at $39.7bn against the actual current trade of $5.1bn.

Report unpacks four critical barriers

The report, “Glass Half Full: Promise of Regional Trade in South Asia”, released here on Wednesday unpacks four of the critical barriers to effective integration.

The four areas are tariff and para-tariff barriers to trade, complicated and non-transparent non-tariff measures, disproportionately high cost of trade, and trust deficit.

Talking to a group of journalists on key points of the report here at the World Bank office on Wednesday, lead economist and author of the document, Sanjay Kathuria, said it was his belief that trust promotes trade, and trade fosters trust, interdependency and constituencies for peace.

In this context, he added, the opening of the Kartarpur corridor by governments of Pakistan and India would help minimise trust deficit.

He said such steps will boost trust between the two countries. For realising the trade potential between Pakistan and India, he suggested the two countries start with specific products facilitation in the first phase.

Mr Kathuria said Pakistan had least air connectivity with South Asian countries, especially India. Pakistan has only six weekly flights each with India and Afghanistan, 10 each with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and only one with Nepal, but no flight with the Maldives and Bhutan.

Compared to this, India has 147 weekly flights with Sri Lanka, followed by 67 with Bangladesh, 32 with the Maldives, 71 with Nepal, 22 with Afghanistan and 23 with Bhutan.

The report recommends ending sensitive lists and para tariffs to enable real progress on the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (Safta) and calls for a multi-pronged effort to remove non-tariff barriers, focusing on information flows, procedures, and infrastructure.

Policy-makers may draw lessons from the India-Sri Lanka air service liberalisation experience. Connectivity is a key enabler for robust regional cooperation in South Asia.

Mr Kathuria says reducing policy barriers, such as eliminating the restrictions on trade at the Wagah-Attari border, or aiming for seamless, electronic data interchange at border crossings, will be major steps towards reducing the very high costs of trade between Pakistan and India.

He argues that the costs of trade are much higher within South Asia compared to other regions. The average tariff in South Asia is more than double the world average. South Asian countries have greater trade barriers for imports from within the region than from the rest of the world.

He says these countries impose high para tariffs, which are extra fees or taxes on top of tariffs.

More than one-third of the intraregional trade falls under sensitive lists, which are goods that are not offered concessional tariffs under Safta. In Pakistan, nearly 20pc of its imports from, and 39pc of its exports to, South Asia fall under sensitive lists.

World Bank Country Director for Pakistan Illango Patchamuthu said Pakistan is sitting on a huge trade potential that remains largely untapped. “A favorable trading regime that reduces the high costs and removes barriers can boost investment opportunities that are critically required for accelerating growth in the country,” he said.

World Bank’s Director Macroeconomics, Trade and Investment Caroline Freund said Pakistan’s frequent use of tariffs to curb imports or protect local firms increases the prices of hundreds of consumer goods, such as eggs, paper and bicycles.

They also raise the cost of production for firms, making it difficult for them to integrate in regional and global value chains, she said. “Pakistan needs to promote export promotion policies to ensure sustainable growth.”

On the issue of currency devaluation, she said undervalued currency is an anti-export measure. She suggests exchange rate should be determined by the real market trend.

The News – Missing Persons Commission disposed of 3492 cases: Justice (R) Javed Iqbal

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 04 December 2018. The Missing Persons Commission have disposed of 3,492 out of 5,608 cases upto 30 November 2018 due to personal efforts of its President Justice (R) Javed Iqbal, Secretary Commission Farid Ahmed Khan said in a statement on Tuesday.

He said the disposal of such large number of cases was a great achievement as per the monthly progress report of cases of alleged enforced disappearances till 30 November 2018. A total of 5,507 cases were received upto 31 October 2018 to Missing Person Commission, Islamabad.

During November 2018, 111 more cases were received by the commission and now the total number of the cases was 5,608, he added.

It is important to note here that the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances, Islamabad during the month of Nov 2018 disposed of 57 cases and now total balance of number of cases were 2116 upto 30 November 2018.

The Commission has conducted 548 hearings; 319 hearings in Islamabad, 35 in Lahore and 194 in Karachi during November 2018.

The efforts of Mr Javed Iqbal, President of the National Commission for Enforced Disappearances and other members have been appreciated as the commission has recovered 3492 missing persons upto 30 November 2018, besides ensuring their safe return to their homes.

As President of Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances, Justice (R) Javed Iqbal and other members of the commission not only gave personal hearing to each family of missing persons but also tried their utmost for earliest recovery of missing persons.

The relatives of missing persons have also acknowledged the remarkable efforts of the President Missing Person Commission.

Justice (R) Javed Iqbal President, Missing Person Commission have not been using government resources and also does not receive any salary while working as President of Commission.

Dawn – Afghan Taliban forcing truckers to pay extortion money, Peshawar council told

Mohammad Ashfaq

Peshawar – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Pakistan, 05 December 2018. The Peshawar district council was informed on Monday that the truckers bound for Afghanistan were being forced to pay Rs 5,000 extortion per truck at the provincial city’s fruit and vegetable market in the name of the Afghan Taliban.

Speaking on a point of order, opposition leader Syed Zahir claimed that unidentified men were collecting extortion money from the truckers transporting fruits and vegetables to Afghanistan in Peshawar and those not making that payment got threatening calls from someone based in Afghanistan.

He said the truckers had no option but to pay extortion money.

DC declares matter dreadful, says will take it up with police for action

He distributed a receipt of Rs 5,000 extortion payment to journalists and councillors.

The receipt carrying the logo of the so-called Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s Economic and Finance Commission had the truck’s number, the amount received, driver’s name and other details on it.

When contacted, several truck drivers and fruit and vegetable traders confirmed the collection of extortion money.

“I don’t know whether the people collecting extortion are the Afghan Taliban or not but it is true that money is being extorted from the people in the fruit and vegetable markets,” a vegetable dealer told Dawn on condition of anonymity.

He said the illegal activity had been going on for around two months.

The dealer said two unidentified people riding a motorcycle collected money from drivers as fruits or vegetables were loaded onto trucks.

“If the motorcyclists miss trucks inside the fruit and vegetable markets, then they catch them on the Ring Road to force drivers to pay extortion money before going away,” he said.

A fruit dealer said he and other businessmen couldn’t resist militants.

He wondered if businessmen denied the militants extortion money, then who would protect them.

Opposition leader Syed Zahir demanded of Peshawar deputy commissioner Dr Imran Hamid Sheikh, who was present in the house, to take notice of the extortion.

The DC declared the matter ‘dreadful’ and said the matter would be taken up with the police for action.

The councillors also expressed concerns about the posting of teachers from other districts to Peshawar’s government schools.

On a point of order, Saidan Shah asked about the rationale for such postings and wondered where the teachers with Peshawar domicile would go if the residents of other districts would be posted to the capital city’s schools.

“It (such postings) is an injustice with locals,” he said.

The member demanded of district nazim Mohammad Asim Khan to take notice of the matter and develop a mechanism to stop such postings.

He said the education department should not post teachers to and transfer from Peshawar district without his consent.

The councillors also came down hard on the Pesco officials over the alleged corrupt practices in the ongoing crackdown on power theft.

They said when the Pesco officials arrested people for illegal power connections, most of them got secured their release after bribing the former.

Councillors including Shamsul Bari, Mubashir Manzoor, Jamil Khan, Juma Raz Khan, Said Bacha, Raham Dil Nawaz complained about rampant corruption in Pesco.

The Hindu – Two Punjabs, one South Asia

India-Pakistan rapprochement and the South Asian future require sub-national engagement, starting with Punjab

Kanak Mani Dixit

Op/Ed, 04 December 2018. For a flickering moment in the last week of November, it seemed as if Congress provocateur and Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu might set the geopolitical agenda, when he unabashedly spoke of the need for India and Pakistan to mend fences.

He was in Lahore on the occasion of the start of work on the Kartarpur Corridor, meant to ease the travel of Sikh pilgrims to the resting place of Guru Nanak.

Unfazed by ridicule on Indian television, the cricketer-turned-politician spoke of peace, trade and people-to-people contact, all of them lost causes of the ‘track two’ dialogues of past decades.

His confidence seemed to emanate from being a Sikh and Punjabi reaching out to Pakistani Punjab, and in his wordy sermons one actually detected the formula for India-Pakistan cohabitation, which would also catalyse cooperation in the larger South Asian region.

Ultra-nationalist fog

Peace in the Subcontinent presupposes amity between India and Pakistan, and more than 40 years of efforts at regionalism has been held hostage by hostility of the two, with the other countries watching askance.

The abuse hurled by the state establishments of each side is a populist political tool that distracts the public from pressing matters of growth, equity, democracy and accountability. That the cost of maintaining massive militaries in each country drags down efforts at social justice is lost in the fog of ultra-nationalism.

India, as the more stable democracy, should inculcate empathy for the neighbour, but the New Delhi commentariat tends not to recognise the difference between the Pakistani state and its people, the latter struggling against extremism, military supremacy and state-centralism all at one go.

Indian media by and large is not bothered by the travails of Pakistanis, as right-wing trolls rule the airwaves and social media. Similar to how dissent is sought to be silenced with the ‘Urban Naxal’ tag, since long those seeking India-Pakistan amity and South Asian regionalism are rejected as romantic peaceniks lighting meaningless candles at Wagah-Atari.

The trolling and abuse on all matters related to Pakistan can be expected to peak as India’s general election of 2019 draws near, which will only help Islamabad’s military-intelligence complex tighten its grip on the society. It is high time to try once again for a plan for South Asian regionalism.

Opportunity costs

The potential of South Asia for sustained high growth has been blocked by the tightened national borders, with India playing its part by building barbed wire fences on the Pakistan and Bangladesh frontiers.

In all of seven decades, the economic history of the Subcontinent has been forgotten, with the ultra-nationalist narrative having us believe that this separate living is how it has always been.

Until Cyril Radcliffe drew the map of Partition, the economic synergy across the different parts of the Subcontinent was an unquestioned historical reality.

There is no one to remember or remind that this reality of sealed borders was set only in 1947 for most parts of the Subcontinent, or that the door actually slammed shut only after the India-Pakistan war of 1965.

As the historical ‘connectivity’ of the Subcontinent crumbled, it created massive dysfunction as economies of scale and production chains were disrupted.

The opportunity costs have been incalculable in terms of infrastructure, production and commerce, and the loss in livelihoods would be heart-rending if only we cared to calculate.

The present-day failure of South Asian academia is its unwillingness to theorise on the promise of economic growth and social justice that regionalism holds, through soft/open borders.

Of the Indian intelligentsia, the failure is also in seeing economic geography through the New Delhi lens rather than those of the ‘peripheral’ regions, from Rajasthan to the Northeast.

‘South Asia’ must be understood as a project for social justice, to be achieved through economic rationalisation, sub-regional interactions and reduced military budgets, and open borders such as exists between Nepal and India.


The goal of the future should be to learn to compartmentalise one’s perceptions of the ‘other’, that Pakistan is made up of its state and its people just as India too is made up of its state and its people. The mutual demonisation has to do with conflating the two, state apparatus and citizenry, as one.

While the Pakistani state is rightfully critiqued for the way the military/intelligence calls the shots, from the Kargil misadventure to cross-border militancy, to even denying Punjab province the right to import energy from India, the self-perception of India as ‘good’ and Pakistan as ‘bad’ should have been abandoned long ago.

In Pakistan, the space of the public intellectual is circumscribed by the jihadists, the army and the military intelligence. In India, a much freer country no doubt, there is the rise of pernicious ultra-populism that keeps public figures from speaking up.

In the age of Narendra Modi, proposing South Asian solidarity is frowned upon to such an extent that academics and opinion makers, not to mention bureaucracy and even international funding agencies, all think it is better to keep aloof of the concept.

Since 2016, the Prime Minister has been consistent in his refusal to attend the 19th SAARC Summit slated for Islamabad, which has rendered the regional organisation comatose. His vision of South Asian regionalism is where the neighbours dance to India’s tune.

The fear that South Asia as a concept heralds some kind of supra-sovereignty is misplaced, for there is no plan afoot for supplanting of the nation-state and associated group privileges. No, the capitals are not being asked to relinquish their powers to a Subcontinental centre.

Instead, a realistic formula for South Asian regionalism lies in allowing the federal units of the two largest countries, the provinces of Pakistan and the states of India, autonomy, which today exists only on paper. This is where the Punjab-Punjab formula comes in.

Even as television sought to lampoon Mr Sidhu, we saw what was required to push for peace in South Asia, chutzpah. The Yiddish word implies the gall or audacity of a showman, and the gift of repartee to challenge the harshest of televangelist anchors.

It does seem that ultranationalist populism can only be cut by counter-populist hyperbole.

Responding to the Pakistan Foreign Minister’s invitation to the Kartarpur Corridor ground-breaking, the Punjab Minister replied in a letter: “As our nations take this first step, the Kartarpur Spirit can make pilgrims of us all, venturing out on a journey that breaks the barriers of history and opens the borders of hearts and the mind, a journey that our people can walk together towards a future of shared peace and prosperity for India and Pakistan.”

If you read the words and not the perception some have of the gentleman, the future of Punjab-Punjab, India-Pakistan and South Asia as a whole can be found in the paragraph.


Nothing has been left untried in the effort to ease India-Pakistan tensions, Atal Bihari Vajpayee visiting Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore; Mr Modi flying in for Nawaz Sharif’s birthday; secret emissaries rushing hither and yon; and ‘track two’ and ‘track three’ events of every kind.

Nothing has worked, and we are today in suspended animation between Mr Modi’s India-centric vision of the region and the Pakistani military’s control of the geopolitical discourse in Islamabad. At such a time comes the possibility held out by the Kartarpur Corridor.

Punjab province is by far the most powerful sub-national unit of Pakistan. The Indian Punjab may not be as powerful within India in relative terms, but it is no pushover either.

The two Punjabs have one history, as the stepping stone for invaders, battlegrounds that go back millennia, the shared tragedy of Partition, and the shared culture and language of Punjabiyat.

Given that South Asian regionalism can only come from a turn towards genuine federalism in India and Pakistan, Punjab Province and Punjab State are the places to start anew. It may just be Punjabiyat is the concept which will help bring India and Pakistan closer to peace, and make South Asia a safer and more prosperous place.

Kanak Mani Dixit, a writer and journalist based in Kathmandu, is the founding editor of the magazine, ‘Himal Southasian’ – Peace between India-Pakistan directly linked to Kashmir dispute, not Kartarpur Corridor: Dal Khalsa

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 01 December 2018. The Dal Khalsa has stated that peace between India and Pakistan is directly linked to resolution of Kashmir dispute and the Kartarpur corridor can play only a limited role in facilitating the dialogue.

Spokesperson of the organization Kanwar Pal Singh in a statement said directly linking the opening of the corridor with India-Pakistan peace overtures is not only exaggeration of issue but sinister move to ensure that the project runs into rough weather.

He made it clear the setting-up of corridor by both Pakistan and India was a welcome step as it fulfills Sikh aspirations for direct access to Kartarpur Sahib that has been a long cherished dream of the Sikhs and that nothing more should be attributed to it.

Moreover, he said the peace in the region will only be restored once rights of struggling peoples, ethnic minorities and nations will be recognized and respected by New Delhi.

The Dal Khalsa was of the considered opinion that the peace between both the hostile and nuclear countries rests on finding political solution to Kashmir dispute as per the aspirations of Kashmiris.

To drive his point home, he said Pakistan PM Imran Khan has categorically stated during groundbreaking ceremony that contentious issue between both the nuclear countries is Kashmir.

Referring to the statement of Indian PM Narendra Modi comparing the opening of the border through the corridor to the bringing down of the Berlin Wall and upping the ante, he said it’s the Indian leadership and the media that tried to create this perception only to downplay or ridicule later on.

Stating that fear looms amidst hope and prayer, he quoted Punjab local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu stating to the media that Kargil happened after visit by then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Lahore by bus.
“Sidhu appears apprehensive that after his visit something may happen to scuttle Kartarpur corridor project”, he said and echoed his fears.

He said this corridor is the outcome of Sikh prayers and that Imran-Bajwa-Sidhu troika has just become the medium to deliver it. He said it’s the Sikh nation’s case and that we have to be alert in our utterances and actions so that none can hinder the Kartarpur corridor becoming a reality in 2019.

He said the irresponsible media and petty politicians of all shades were playing the role of spoilsport and slammed those who had made Sidhu-Chawla meet an issue out of non-issue.

Pakistan Today – Foreign Minister Qureshi calls out Indian counterpart for ‘misrepresenting’ remarks

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 02 December 2018. Foreign Minister (FM) Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Sunday accused Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj of “misrepresenting and misleading” by maligning his comments referring to Sikh sentiments.

“What I said was strictly with reference to bilateral interaction with the Indian government. We have deep respect for Sikh sentiments & no amount of distortions or controversies would change it,” he added.

Qureshi also added that the Kartarpur Corridor was opened in deference to “long-standing desires of Sikh brethren”. “We have taken this historic initiative in good faith and will carry it forward in good faith,” he added.

On Thursday, Qureshi had said that the prime minister had put India in a conundrum with the move to open the Kartarpur border corridor. PM Imran had “bowled a googly at India by opening the Kartarpur border corridor”, he had remarked.

Reacting to her Pakistani counterpart’s statement, Sushma had added, “Mr Foreign Minister of Pakistan – Your ‘googly’ remarks in a dramatic manner has exposed none but YOU. This shows that you have no respect for Sikh sentiments. You only play ‘googlies’.”

She had added that Indian ministers had only visited Pakistan to “offer prayers” in the Kartarpur gurdwara.