Kartarpur corridor: Well begun but far from done
At the inauguration on Wednesday, Mr Khan said the Army and the prime minister were on the same page when it came to ties with India. While this is good news for Mr Khan, the more important requirement is for India and Pakistan to be on the same page in combating terror.
The inauguration of the Kartarpur corridor is a positive step, but whether this could be the means to the end called peace between India and Pakistan, remains an open question. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan used an interaction with a visiting group of Indian journalists to say that it wasn’t in Pakistan’s interest to allow its soil to be used for terrorism against others. But the history of the relationship between India and Pakistan has been that of one step forward and two steps back. The first challenge is to sustain and keep the idea of the corridor alive beyond 2019, the year that coincides with the 550th birth anniversary of Sikh guru Baba Nanak Dev.
The concern among sceptics that India will not be able to control security in the 4.5-kilometre corridor doesn’t appear to be too insurmountable a challenge. Also, the chances that the opening of the corridor may lead to the revival of the Khalistan movement appear to be remote, because of a few significant reasons. One, a lot of water has flown down the Beas since the height of the Khalistan movement of the 1980s. The change is clear from the fact that the Congress government is in power in the border state again. Second, in terms of history, Pakistan has never had any claim on Punjab, unlike Kashmir, which remains an unresolved territorial dispute.
Having said this, the threat on account of Pakistan’s history has not gone away overnight. There is a strong possibility that our neighbour will stop exporting terror from its territory to India, in violation of the MoU signed in 2004 between Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. At the inauguration, Mr Khan said the Army and the PM were on the same page when it came to ties with India. While this is good news for Mr Khan, the more important requirement is for India and Pakistan to be on the same page in fighting terror. Only then can momentum be built for the popular support that is a prerequisite for any peace effort. At present, the mood in India is not in favour of a dialogue with Pakistan. With India set to go in for elections in 2019, Mr Khan’s gesture, although well meaning, appears to have come at the wrong time.