Religions have been instruments to heal differences and also to increase tensions in many instances. So, when Modi government gave approval for the Kartarpur corridor, many felt it was a step forward by the Indian government. This especially when terror activities continue unabated in the Kashmir region.
Many who support the government welcomed the move. However, when Pakistan planned to have its own groundbreaking ceremony for the corridor and the Modi government decided to send representatives for the event, the outrage started. The outrage was justified too. Instead of the understanding the reasons for this difference of opinion by the ardent Modi supporters, media, as usual, went about giving them names and mocking them.
Let’s get to the facts. It was not as if Congress leader Navjot Singh Siddhu came up with this brilliant idea of opening the Kartarpur corridor for the Sikh pilgrims from India during the oath-taking ceremony of Imran Khan. This has been a long pending demand by successive Indian governments. This was never heeded to by the Pakistani government and its controllers. In fact, India had long back taken the first step in granting a visa to Pakistani pilgrims to visit Ajmer Sharif. There was no policy difference on this matter between different political parties at all (political posturing is a different matter).
In fact, when he was still the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Prime Minister Modi himself had supported extending visas to Pakistani citizens who visit India to watch cricket matches to get the opportunity to visit Ajmer Sharif.
Cut to today. The headlines in various newspapers is nauseating. In fact, if you try to find the difference between Indian and Pakistani newspapers, we would be shocked to see the similarity in narratives.
Headlines are not meant just to quote statements by various leaders. They also serve as a guide to the reader about the general direction of the story. None of the above headlines is critical of Imran Khan for not mentioning anything about “terror” in Kashmir. I would guess that a section of the Indian population would have agreed with him, or even supported him if he had at least talked about his helplessness in addressing the terror activities.
The paeans being sung by the mainstream media that Imran Khan has taken a historic step is highly misplaced. This was at best a good reciprocatory step. If it is historic or not will be determined, after a period of five years at least – when all Sikh pilgrims return to India alive after their pilgrimage visiting Kartarpur. When a visiting cricket team is not spared of attacks, it would be prudent to wait and see if pilgrims are spared.
Never discount the fact that ‘Taliban Khan’ is still openly hobnobbing with the Chinese against India. Have mainstream Indian journalists forgotten Imran Khan’s tweet to Modi mocking him? How can any foreign policy expert expect India to reciprocate when he calls the Prime Minister a “small man”? In fact, it is not even about the fact that it is Modi who is the Prime Minister right now. Any head of India being mocked in this manner must not be tolerated.
However, on second thoughts, this may be precisely the reason the Lutyens based Indian journalists are enamoured by Imran as the man to stop Modi in his tracks. Imran had effectively closed all doors for resolutions after this sham tweet. The opening of the Kartarpur corridor was more of a political stunt to attract Nawaz Sharif’s base in Pakistan – who had elected Sharif the previous time on his call to resolve issues with India. Of course, along with military support, he has to get a chunk of votes to stay in power.
At best, Imran Khan is trying to get good PR going from a global perspective. Especially, in light of PM Modi’s global campaign for India, Imran Khan has realized that he needs to up his game to stand a chance.
In light of stinging attacks by Trump, especially in the recent past, Pakistan already is on the back foot. After going with begging bowl to China for funds and returning empty-handed, Imran Khan has realized that he needs to broaden support globally to attract more financial support. With this being the financial reality, Imran dare not any misadventure with India – even a small one. It is quite natural for the Pakistani media to hide this. What is really unfortunate is that Indian media playing chorus to the same tune.