Geopolitics

Backstabbing India’s Leap of Faith
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 28 Nov , 2018

Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu addressing the gathering after laying foundation stone for Kartarpur Corridor, in Gurdaspur.

Pakistan has lost no time in backstabbing India’s leap of faith in announcing it will construct the Kartarpur Corridor on India Territory up to the international border, in response Pakistani army chief’s suggestion of opening the Kartarpur Corridor, as conveyed by Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu; India is to build the corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur to the India-Pakistan border. Pakistan was quick in welcoming the Indian decision, its foreign office saying it is step in the right direction. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi tweeted that Prime Minister Imran Khan will lay the foundation stone for Kartarpur corridor on November 28, saying, “We welcome the Sikh community to Pakistan for this auspicious occasion”; which is part of Guru Nanak Dev’s 550th birth anniversary celebrations.

But Pakistan could not resist displaying its subterfuge and true intentions instantaneously, or perhaps it is displaying triumph over having snared India into dialogue. Qamar Javed Bajwa, Pakistani army chief had gloated last year, “Ultimately, they (India) will have to talk to us”. So, the Sikh pilgrimage spots and gurudwaras in Pakistan have huge hoardings displaying the ‘Sikh Referendum 2020’; also announcing that voting for referendum would be in November 2020. Names with photographs of Sikh separatist leaders have are also prominently displayed (see photo of hoardings at Nankana Sahib Gurudwara in Pakistan above), as also Kalistani flags. It would not be surprising if soon Pakistan would issue postage stamps for these separatists, as she has already done for Pakistan-sponsored terrorists of J&K.

MEA has reportedly called upon Pakistan to take all measures to not allow its territory to be used for any hostile propaganda and support for secessionists tendencies against India “in accordance with the commitments made under the Simla Agreement 1972 and endorsed in the Lahore Declaration of 1999, MEA has also said, “We have also expressed grave concern at the reports of attempts being made… to incite communal disharmony and intolerance and promote secessionist tendencies with the objective of undermining India’s sovereignty…”. As far as Pakistan is concerned, she would treat such protests akin to India asking Pakistan for converting Hafiz Saeed, Masood Azhar and Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi to Hinduism. Some Indian writers compare this with Pervez Musharraf, then Pakistani army chief not saluting Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on arriving by bus at Lahore. Musharraf was just signaling his army’s pathological hatred towards India, but current signal by Pakistan blandly indicates future intentions of Pakistan.

But above is not all. Despite Indian pilgrims granted permission in advance by the foreign ministry of Pakistan, consular officials of the Indian High Commission at Islamabad were harassed and denied access on both 21 and 22 November at Gurdwara Nankana Sahib and Gurdwara Sacha Sauda. This was a deliberate act as a result of which these officials of the Indian High Commission were forced to return to Islamabad without performing their diplomatic and consular duties with respect to the Indian Sikh pilgrims visiting Pakistan for festivities related to the 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev. India has reportedly shared “grave concern” with Pakistan since this was the third consecutive visit of Sikh pilgrims when Pakistan has prevented Indian High Commission officials from meeting the visiting Indian pilgrims under the pretext of security. With all the welcoming propaganda about the Kartarpur Corridor by Pakistan’s Foreign Office and Ministry of Information, such issues could have been resolved with one telephone call, but as it is said – a dog’s tail kept in a bamboo jacket for straightening, remains curved even after 20 years.

In April 1986, then Minister for Internal Security Arun Nehru informed Parliament Government had “clear evidence” of Pakistani involvement in the training of Sikh terrorists, saying, “We have details of names, locations, training schedules and the type of assistance Pakistan has given to these terrorists. He also said, during interrogation of captured terrorists, they had admitted to having been trained in Pakistan, giving specific names of people they had met with dates and places. Recall the sensational ‘Burari Jailbreak’ of 2004, wherein one of the accused Devi Singh of Uttrakhand escaped to Pakistan, converted to Sikhism and since then is enjoying tutelage of the ISI. In 2006, a US Court had convicted Khalid Awan, a Muslim and Canadian of Pakistani descent, of supporting terrorism by providing money and financial services to the Khalistan Commando Force chief Paramjit Singh Panjwar in Pakistan. In June 2008, our Intelligence Bureau re-confirmed that Pakistan’s ISI was trying to revive Sikh militancy in Punjab. Apparently, ISI was also behind ‘Nabha Jailbreak’ of 2016, that helped Khalistan Liberation Front (KlF) chief Harminder Mintoo, alias Mintoo, escaped along with five other prisoners after the armed men in police uniform stormed the prison.

There are organizations and individuals in Pakistan, Canada and even Britain supporting Sikh separatism. We must acknowledge that ‘Sikh Referendum 2020’ is being steered under a carefully planned clandestine operation by Pakistan’s ISI under the code-name ‘Express’. The ISI is funding, supporting and working on a time-table. A Sikh radical leader based in Germany, known to be an ISI operative, is linked with the ‘2020 Referendum’ campaigners. Another strong ally of the 2020 organizers involved in murder of a RSS leader and other terror incidents is believed to be funded by the ISI. There have been some instances of raising Khalistan slogans and flags in Punjab over past three years but the movement is being fanned abroad. It is during the pilgrims stay in Pakistan’s Punjab, where several Sikh pilgrimage centres and historical gurdwaras are located, that Indian pilgrims are, and will be exposed to Khalistani propaganda and leaders, which is not possible within India. With the Kartarpur Corridor the stream of pilgrims will be throughout the year.

News reports indicate that the Indian side of the Kartarpur Corridor is planned to be completed by August next year. One can expect Pakistan completing their end even earlier, its importance indicated by Imran Khan laying the foundation stone on November 28. Novjot Singh Sidhu has been invited by Imran Khan for the ceremony and much backslapping can be expected between the two cricketing buddies. Qamar Javed Bajwa, Pakistani army chief will likely be present, hugging Sidhu even harder. Bajwa has recently showed off his chameleon-like colours again by advising India to hold peace talks instead of resorting to provocative statements and ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC) in J&K; compulsive thief trying to prove he is white. As fot Imran, his cabinet has many faces from Musharraf’s cabinet and he is a puppet in hands of the Pakistan’s military.

Our pilgrims streaming into Pakistan may include unscrupulous individuals and some weak enough to ward off separatist propaganda, which the ISI will subject them to possibly in conjunction Chinese advisors. The pilgrims could also include smugglers and politicians that could be saleable, putting self and mafia / party interests over the national. As already brought out in these columns, and Indian politician, who is located outside Punjab, has received Rs 1300 crore from the ISI to help revive militancy in Punjab. Interestingly, as per one report, R&AW is ranked number four amongst 10 best intelligence agencies of the world in 2018, while ISI does not figure in the top 10 at all. But the question is how to monitor and counter brainwashing of pilgrims in Pakistan, given that even Indian High Commission officials will not be permitted to meet them. This is not a small challenge.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Lt Gen Prakash Katoch

is a former Lt Gen Special Forces, Indian Army

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