Q Samarjit Chowdhury asked : What is your assessment of Kartarpur Corridor ? Has Pakistan opened the corridor to reorganize the Khalistani terrorists and reactivate them from across the border ( which was seen in recent time)? How will India responds to such Pakistani policies ?
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Replied by VIF : The Khalistan movement dates back to 1960s and 70s when Pakistan was able to tap diasporic elements that also found a domestic constituency due to ongoing linguistic and provincial politics. Operation Blue Star and insurgency in Punjab have indeed caused deep suffering to the Sikh community but stability in the state since late 1990s demonstrates the success of governmental efforts as well as strong commitment on part of the Sikh community.

With the recent announcement of Kartarpur Corridor, the long standing demand of the Sikh community to be allowed visit the shrine was fulfilled. Since the initiative rose to prominence after the bonhomie displayed between General Bajwa and Navjot Sidhu, it gave rise to the concerns that the revival of Khalistan was on the agenda. The four kilometre corridor would link the Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur with the Kartarpur Shrine, hence there are strong security concerns.

Pakistan's past track record and its future aspirations leave no doubt that the motivation behind this show of generosity - welcome no doubt - was addressed to the Sikh diaspora, outside India in particular. Many foreign settler Sikhs, well-off ones particularly, suffer from sense of loss of their roots and seek compensation through propagation, and funding, of separatist Khalistani notions, little realising that it will spell doom for the followers of Sikhism. Pakistan sees that travesty as another avenue to undermine India's integrity - that remains its innate, uncontrollable urge.

While technical details on India's preparedness are yet to emerge, the Director General of the Border Security Force has reiterated the force's readiness to ensure that the corridor could not compromise security. Rather than immediate security concerns, there is a need to look at Kartarpur from the long term strategic objective of Pakistan wooing the Sikh community. These concerns notwithstanding, India came out in full support of the corridor with PM Modi describing the opening of the corridor as an atonement for the ills of partition. The Kartarpur opening is part of a war of perceptions waged by Rawalpindi to take a moral high ground over India. Besides security preparedness, it was PM Modi's carefully guarded response that was the real balancing act. India should push for greater initiatives on these lines and call for access to more Hindu and Sikh Shrines to test Pakistan's seriousness. Clearly, Pakistan fails to measure India's record of resilience.

Posted on January 21, 2019

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