It is highly praiseworthy that the Pakistan Government has ensured the completion of the Kartarpur corridor on time, as promised, and its inaugural ceremony is being held on 9 November 20i9. This corridor has been constructed for the Sikh pilgrims from India and the world over for visiting the most sacred Sikh shrine of Baba Guru Nanak, located in the Kartarpur village in Pakistan in the Narowal District, just a few kilometres from the Pakistan-India border. As stated by the project director Atif Majeed the Corridor is a visa-free border crossing from India to Kartarpur, which is being opened just ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Sikhism founder Baba Guru Nanak on Nov 12, to enable the Sikh community of India and the foreign countries to attend one of the Sikh religion’s most sacred festivals.
The provision of the corridor facility for the Indian Sikh pilgrims, which will remain open throughout the year, is a clear proof that Pakistan earnestly respects its religious minorities and religious minorities of the neighbouring countries, and ensures their religious freedom. The provision of this great facility for the Indian Sikhs is an example for India, where the BJP sponsored Hindu mobs are damaging the Muslims’ worship places, like the historic Babri mosque, which was demolished by Hindu mobs and the then government kept looking. And, if the Hindus temple is constructed there by the Modi Government, then Hindu mobs will start demolishing other historic mosques in India.
Moreover, since 2014, when the BJP and Modi Government came into power, the extremist Hindus are killing the Muslims, on the pretext that if somebody is taking a cow, he is beaten to the death by the Hindu mobs because it is assumed that the cow is being taken to slaughtering and eating its meat. That is why, as per the New York times of 25 June 2019, in its annual report for 2019, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, has listed India as among the worst countries in the world for religious freedom.
In view of the religious intolerance in India, especially of the Muslim minority, the construction and opening of the Kartarpur corridor on the initiative of the Pakistan Government is an example for the Modi led BJP Government in India that it should also respect the religious places and the rights of its religious minorities, especially the Muslims, as Pakistan is doing for the Indian Sikhs and Hindus, as their many religious shrines are located inside Pakistan and they are welcomed and facilitated to visit those.
Other than respecting the religious rights of the minorities, the construction of the Kartarpur corridor for the Indian Sikh community to visit the shrine of Baba Guru Nanak is also a goodwill gesture by Pakistan for the Sikhs of India, that indicates a Pakistan’s desire to build peace with its neighbours. Such gestures and Pakistan’s repeated offers to India to start a dialogue to resolve the Kashmir and other disputes are a clear evidence that Pakistan wants to build sustainable good neighbourly relations with India and other neighbouring countries.
Based on previous experiences, it is now obvious that Pakistan and India cannot resolve the mutual disputes by the use of force, as both the countries being the nuclear powers cannot fight a conclusive war, without causing unbearable damage to each other
It is only with the resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir and other outstanding disputes that Pakistan and India, along with other SAARC member countries can work together towards South Asia’s economic integration and economic development of all the SAARC members for poverty alleviation in South Asia and ultimately moving towards achieving the prosperity in the region. This will be only possible if Pakistan and India, as nuclear powers, respect each other and build mutual peace.
Based on previous experiences, it is now obvious that Pakistan and India cannot resolve the mutual disputes by the use of force, as both the countries being the nuclear powers cannot fight a conclusive war, without causing unbearable damage to each other. In this context, India would also finally come to the conclusion that the use of too much force in the occupied state of Jammu and Kashmir since 1987,and the ongoing genocide being committed there by the Indian security forces by clamping the curfew and closing telephone and internet communications for the last 77 days and even more will further strengthen the freedom struggle of the Kashmiris, rather than India succeeds in crushing that struggle.
Therefore, there is no option for Pakistan and India other than having a bilateral dialogue or accept a foreign mediation to resolve the Kashmir dispute in the light of the US resolutions, so that both the nuclear powers can live together in peace and cooperation and help the SAARC to achieve its objective of realizing an economic integration of South Asia to address the poverty and attain prosperity. And, in this context, the construction and opening of the Kartapur corridor for the Indian Sikh community should act as a first step.
The writer is a former Research Fellow of Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI), Islamabad