Sultan M Hali
India has failed to swallow the fact that Pakistan not only successfully launched the Kartarpur Corridor
but continues to get praise and gratitude from the Sikh community around the globe. Hundreds of thousands of Sikhs swarmed to the final resting place of the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev Ji on the occasion of the 550th Birth Anniversary of their most revered leader. Billboards praising Prime Minister Imran Khan popped up in Amritsar on the eve of the inauguration of the Corridor, much to the chagrin of the authorities, who ordered their removal hours after they were put up. The Sikh community had put up billboards with pictures of Prime Minister Khan and Indian politician Navjot Singh Sidhu across the city to express their delight over the opening of Kartarpur Corridor. The hoardings credited politician Sidhu and PM Imran for being the “real heroes who made the Kartarpur Corridor a reality”.
Sikhs around the world are so moved by Imran Khan’s gesture, that a group of Sikhs demands that the Nobel Prize for Peace be awarded to the Pakistani Prime Minister. A few Sikh Associations, including “Sikhs for Justice”, have decided to start a campaign advocating the award for Prime Minister Imran Khan to recognize his peace efforts. The Sikh community will be writing a letter to the Nobel Council in this regard. Nobel Council is a body liable for choosing Nobel laureates. The letter will feature the importance of Kartarpur opening amid increased Pakistan-India tension.
Despite the fact that Chief Minister of Indian Punjab Captain Amarinder Singh could not resist the temptation of attending the inauguration ceremony of the Kartarpur Corridor and graced the occasion, he continues to bad mouth Pakistan. He alleges that Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency, the ISI is responsible for organizing the ‘2020 Sikh Referendum app’ and has directed state officials to direct Google to take down the 2020 Khalistan App immediately.
Captain Amarinder Singh’s own political career is full of dichotomies as he is a member of the Indian National Congress, the Party that under Indira Gandhi, carried out the assault on the holiest of Sikh shrines, the Golden Temple at Amritsar. She was assassinated by two of her Sikh bodyguards, in retaliation of which thousands of Sikhs were massacred and were forced to leave India. Under the Modi regime, no minority community is safe, and Sikhs are no exception. Narendra Modi was forced to go along with Imran Khan’s proposal of establishing the Kartarpur Corridor because of fear of a backlash from the Sikh Diaspora, which now holds important positions in the US, Canada, Britain and Europe. Captain Amarinder Singh alleges that the App, freely available for download on Google Play is clearly aimed at pushing the ISI agenda of dividing the Sikh community amid the birth anniversary celebrations of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev.
The Indian Punjab Chief Minister should remember that with Modi at the helm of affairs in New Delhi, ISI does not need to plant new ideas. BJP/RSS policies are so inimical towards Indian minorities that Pakistan does not require any clandestine machinations to alienate them from their government. With the continued lockdown in India-Occupied Kashmir (IoK), persistent human rights abuses, Kartarpur Corridor opening by Pakistan, Indian National Registration Citizenship (NRC) and Babri Mosque decision by Indian Supreme Court are already radiating negative vibes for minorities in India. The world is taking cognizance of Indian atrocities.
Neither was the ISI behind the Federal US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) taking cognizance of Modi’s government’s atrocious marginalization of Assamese Muslim community. The USCIRF has observed with serious concern that the final NRC list, which validates bona fide Indian citizens of Assam, excluded 1.9 million residents and it is being used as a tool to “target religious minorities and to render Muslims stateless”. It is distressing that more detention centers where Muslims are being forced to spend their life in squalor and deprivation are coming up for the ones left out of NRC. The BJP has indicated its intent to create a religious test for Indian citizenship that would favour Hindus and selected religious minorities but exclude Muslims. This has become one more example of the downward trend in religious freedom conditions within India.
Captain Amarinder Singh should have noted that the Supreme Court is about to deliver its verdict on a criminal contempt petition against Rahul Gandhi, the leader of his Political Party—the Indian Congress—for attributing his ‘chowkidar chor hai’ comment against PM Modi. Welcoming the top court’s order, Rahul Gandhi commented: “The entire country is saying that chowkidar has committed theft. It is a day of celebration that the Supreme Court has talked about justice”. The sentiments of Rahul Gandhi are shared by millions of Indians who believe rightfully that Modi has sold Indian interest in Rafael fighter aircraft deal with France. BJP government had created hurdles in investigation and used pressure tactics to hinder unearthing the truth by relevant departments. Rahul Gandhi’s remark may win him a contempt of court but will still remain a fact well known by all. The scandal that shook Modi’s image shall surface in years to come even if Modi is able to suppress it. Thus, what to talk of a Google App, the writing is on the wall that the extremist trend is the mindset that has destined India to become a radical Hindu state and the world is awakening up to this fact.
—The writer is retired PAF Group Captain and a TV talk show host.