Is Pakistan Attempting to Derail the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor?
In keeping with Government of India’s decision which was corroborated with by Pakistan to operationalise the Kartarpur Corridor on the occasion of the 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev ji and meet the long pending public demand to have easy and smooth access to the holy Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib, the first meeting between India and Pakistan to discuss and finalize the modalities for Kartarpur Corridor was held at Attari-Wagah (Indian side) on 14 March 2019.
This was followed by technical meetings to finalise the details of construction and facilities and so on. The next meeting was scheduled to be held on 2 April, however interim developments may denote that this will not be held or at least postponed.
The reason is quite apparent with Pakistan attempting to mainstream protagonists of the separatist Khalistan movement in the country.
Pakistan’s minister for information Chaudhry Fawad Hussain announced a ten-member committee constituted by Pakistan government for facilitating Indian pilgrims going to pay obeisance at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, Kartarpur to celebrate the 550 birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev in November this year.
India has indicated that the names send by Pakistan includes controversial names like Gopal Singh Chawla, Tara Singh, Bishen Singh etc.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>India says names of 10-member committee sent by Pakistan on Kartarpur corridor includes controversial names like Gopal Singh Chawla,Tara Singh,Bishen Singh etc.Chawla associated with LeT, anti India secessionist elements, serious concerns about Pak's intention <a href=”https://twitter.com/the_hindu?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@the_hindu</a></p>— vijaita singh (@vijaita) <a href=”https://twitter.com/vijaita/status/1111525543105777666?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>March 29, 2019</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>
Chawla is known as one of the main propagators of the Sikh movement seeking a separate homeland for the community. He is reported to be the general secretary of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and his name was associated with the grenade attack on the Nirankari Bhawan in Amritsar in which three were killed in November last year. Pakistan’s deputy high commissioner was called in by India to seek clarification from the neighbouring country on the issues raised.
The Ministry of External Affairs in a Press release thus indicated that India has sought clarifications from Pakistan on key proposals of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor. The release reads, “India has sought clarifications from Pakistan on key proposals put forward by India at the last meeting held in Attari to discuss the modalities of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor. India has also shared concerns and sought clarifications on reports that controversial elements have been appointed by Pakistan to a committee to be associated with the Kartarpur Corridor. It has been conveyed that the next meeting on the modalities can be scheduled at an appropriate time after receiving Pakistan’s response. Meanwhile, in order to take forward the infrastructure development for the Corridor in an expeditious manner, India has proposed to hold another meeting of techncial experts in mid-April to resolve outstanding issues at the zero point agreed to at the last meeting. Government of India remains committed to realise the long pending demand of the Indian pilgrims to visit the holy Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib using the Corridor in a safe, secure, smooth and easy manner”.
The inclusion of Gopal Singh Chawla and others by Pakistan is not surprising. Pakistan has been inviting Kashmir separatists for Pakistan Day function in New Delhi each year. This year India objected to the same and did not send an official to represent the country where normally a minister is nominated for the purpose.
In case Pakistan insists on inclusion of the likes of Chawla then the process is not likely to g further.
There would be some elements in the Sikh Community outside India who may raise a hue and cry but in India a backlash is not anticipated in case the access to the Corridor does not come through./
This was clear when Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee president Manjinder Singh Sirsa stated as per the Times of India that Pakistan government should have avoided Chawla’s name in the ten member committee.