Kartarpur Corridor: Challenges and opportunities

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Zaheer Bhatti

IT is a sad reflection upon Pakistan’s political system
magnifying gaping holes in its functioning where a po
litical party badly mauled during general election is allowed to wrest initiative from the main Opposition and paralyze life in the country, forcing the Administration to do nothing else but attend to the requirements of the JUI-F leadership; further damaging the country’s already fledging economy struggling to keep afloat. In a country where dearth of schools and hospitals needs to be speedily met, schools are closed down, hospitals where available are difficult to reach and attendance in Public institutions badly impaired and public transport off the roads, besides depriving the public of consumable items of daily use with the periodical public bazaars closed down, the national media instead of highlighting the hazards to public life created by the march and sit-in, has unfortunately played the principal role in enhancing Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s nuisance value by giving him exposure grossly disproportionate to his Party’s standing in the legislature. This can only happen in Pakistan.
Elsewhere, in civilized countries venues are permanently earmarked for staging any and all protests to air public grievances against a sitting Government. The venue is carefully chosen so as not to affect public life and for the nation to carry on its day to day chores without any hindrance. But what is beginning to become a norm in Pakistan has to stop forthwith even if by an Ordinance which are galore nowadays; this time for a matter of national urgency, because Pakistan’s neighbouring enemy India has been exploiting all such irresponsible developments to paint them as signs of instability, extremism and chaos in Pakistan. A glaring evidence of the Maulana’s political impropriety, have been some of his arguments which reflect poorly over his comprehension of the political fall-out of his utterances. He laments opening of the Kartarpura access to the Sikh community specifically from India but generally from all over the world to pay homage to Baba Guru Nanak the symbol of their faith at his last resting place, whereas this Pakistani gesture is testimony to the true face of Islamic compassion, tolerance and accommodation for other religions in contrast to Indian brutalization of Muslims particularly in occupied Kashmir, which must send the critics of Islam into serious introspection over their mindless Islamophobia, and blindfolded exoneration of Indian State terrorism against its minorities.
As for the Maulana’s Azadi March and sit-in, there is always the possibility of the enemy infiltrating such gatherings and triggering clash between the Government and its opposition by causing one odd incident of violence not intended by either party. Why in the present hostile environment created by India and its prodigy the puppet US Government in Afghanistan on both the eastern and western flanks, Pakistan’s political opposition providing a fertile ground for infiltration and espionage and becoming a potent minefield, is beyond comprehension. While it was perfectly in order for the Government to frontally discount the opposition demand for PM’s resignation and early elections for which Parliament was the only appropriate forum, the Prime Minister chose to make some inopportune utterances at his Gilgit-Baltistan rally about Maulana Fazlur Rehman which were unworthy of the Prime Minister’s office as he should have been seeking to balm the atmosphere rather than provide ignition material. This was a job better left to his second string team-mates at another opportunity. This scribe had decried the opposition for using Maulana’s organizational ability to give vent to their frustrations forfeiting centre stage to him in the process which he has used with great acumen so far. The principal opposition vanished after the opening day public showing having made its face-saving appearances and stayed away from any unconstitutional stand-off against the Government, but not before helping JUI (F) to gather the required momentum. The Maulana on the other hand got carried away with the outcome as he threatened to bring down the Government by allowing his followers to arrest the Prime Minister from his abode; a welcome faux pas for the Government to threaten legal action against him for inciting violence, after which he readily retracted from his D-Chowk assault threat.
With the JUI (F) leader in his ecstasy also taking on the Armed Forces, the ISPR came forward to state its categorical constitutional position, which it ought to have made clear at the very outset soon after it was accused of installing Imran Khan’s Government with his person in the saddle. Its silence over repeated taunts of selection in the election gave gradual credibility to the opposition allegation, though one feels that owing to the reputation of continually rigged elections in Pakistan, it was only right to hold the last one under Army supervision; something which the public across the country wholeheartedly welcomed and still does, as it had been successfully tried during Local Bodies Polls in the past. Bilawal Bhutto usually following prepared and edbullet points, extended a self-contradictory argument in decrying elections under Army supervision having himself stated that the previous elections had been rigged; as if the norm of rigging under civilian control was in order.
But who am I talking to, where public welfare is neither the Government priority submitting to public-sapping IMF conditions, nor on the self-serving agenda of the political opposition beyond lip service. Is it not tragic that both sides of the political divide oblivious of the threats to national security and the state of economy were engaged in a bid to edging out each other rather than huddle together to meet security and economic challenges. One has to keep hammering this at the cost of repetition because while enemies of the State of Pakistan; specifically India more than ever before, was looking to draw a wedge among the country’s political leadership and to malign its exemplary Armed Forces which were a thorn in the eyes of Pakistan’s detractors, Pakistan’s political leadership was providing fodder to the enemy cannon.
—The writer is a media professional, member of Pioneering team of PTV and a veteran ex Director Programmes.