Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi remarked that Prime Minister Imran Khan had bowled a “Kartarpur googly,” which obligated India to engage Pakistan, even though New Delhi had declined negotiations with Islamabad. Qureshi also said India was forced to send two ministers to Pakistan to attend the foundation stone-laying ceremony for the Kartarpur corridor.
Earlier, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj cancelled a meeting with Qureshi on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Qureshi raised these issues in the presence of Khan even after Swaraj clarified that the opening of the Kartarpur corridor was not connected with peace negotiations with Pakistan.
Swaraj asserted that, despite a Pakistani invitation, India will neither attend SAARC nor begin a dialogue unless Pakistan stops abetting terrorism. She emphatically stated that “terror and talks cannot go together”.
Qureshi’s statement clearly indicates that Pakistan laid a trap through opening of the Kartarpur corridor so that dialogue with India could be initiated. Pakistan had invited Swaraj to attend the groundbreaking ceremony, but she evaded the trap and declined the invitation citing prior commitments. India was aware of Pakistan’s sinister designs and sent two Sikh ministers; Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri.
The statement of Vijay Sampla, India’s Minister of State and MP from Hoshiarpur, Punjab is also significant. He said Pakistan may use the Kartarpur corridor to infiltrate terrorists into India. Security forces have eliminated large numbers of terrorists under “Operation all out” and Pakistan is realising that terrorism in Kashmir is diminishing. The voters’ turnout in recently held panchayat elections in the state is quite encouraging. In the seventh phase of panchayat elections, 75 per cent voters cast their votes.
The central government alerted the Punjab government that the ISI is trying to revitalize insurgency in Punjab, through Sikhs settled in Europe, Canada and America. Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat also stated in a seminar that external forces are making efforts to “revive insurgency” in Punjab and security forces should be “careful”.
A pro-Khalistan organization, Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), organised a march for “London Declaration on Referendum 2020 for Sikhs” on August 12 in London. Analysts claim that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence or ISI rendered full assistance to Gurpatwant Singh Pannun who organised the event.
Pakistan is being isolated in the world arena and is losing friends rapidly. Pakistan’s all-weather friend China’s state run CGTN network recently removed Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) from Pakistan’s map. Analysts say the timing of removing POK from Pakistan’s map is significant as the armies of both India and China had conducted a joint military exercise from December 10.
Soon after this, three terrorists of the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) attacked the Chinese consulate in Karachi, on November 23. The terrorist attack by BLA is noteworthy as the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which forms a significant part of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), passes through Balochistan. Several Baloch organisations claim that CPEC is not in the state’s interest and China is eyeing Balochistan’s unexploited mineral wealth. Hence China gave a clear message to Pakistan that it must provide full security to Chinese citizens in the country.
A small minority in India says New Delhi should negotiate with Islamabad and India can talk with the new Prime Minister as he is close to the ‘deep state’ (read military), but they forget that closeness does not mean the ‘deep state’ has given rights to the civilian PM to change Pakistan’s standpoint on Kashmir. Secondly, both India and Pakistan have extremely conflicting positions on Kashmir and it is very difficult to reach any amicable settlement. Thirdly, the ‘deep state’ has successfully convinced Islamic fundamentalists in Pakistan that either they will amalgamate Kashmir in Pakistan or it will become independent. That is seen as suitable revenge for dismemberment of Pakistan in 1971.
Pakistan now needs to negotiate with India as its image in the international arena is declining and the USA is pressing hard on it to stop assistance to diverse terrorist outfits. Nevertheless, Khan’s effort to negotiate with India is only to show the world that Pakistan seeks peace with India but, covertly, it will continue assisting different terrorist outfits as it considers India as an existential threat and will continue weakening India through a low-intensity war.
The presence of Khalistan protagonist Gopal Singh Chawla in the Kartarpur ceremony also amplifies the mala fide intention of Pakistan. Khan also made it clear that Kashmir is the only bone of contention between India and Pakistan and did not mention anything about cross-border terrorism. Thus there is no use of negotiations with Islamabad and the Indian government has taken the right stand, that cross-border terrorism and peaceful negotiations cannot go side by side.