Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation Karatpur corridor, facilitating the visa free entry of Sikh pilgrams to Gordwuara Darbar Sing in Narowal. He arrived there flanked by the Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Quereshi and Indian Minister Naojot Singh Sidhu. The ceremony was attended by
federal and provincial ministers and foreign diplomats.
The opening of this corridor has been in limbo for a long time owing to India’s lack of interest. On the Pakistan side, various proposals have been discussed and announcements made since Musharraf era but lack of interest by India side has kept the proposals confined to cold storage. In his era forward movement was witnessed on different bilateral issues between the two countries. Former Foreign Minster of Musharraf government Khursid Mahmood Kasuri had said in a current affairs programme of a private TV channel, when was going to launch his book titled “Neither a Hawk, Nor a Dove”, that appreciable progress had been made on a number of bilateral disputes and in some cases the leadership of both countries were nearing agreement. But when the lawyers’ movement of 2007 destabalised Musharraf government, Indian leadership was then no longer interested about forward movement on bilateral issues.
Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr. Mohammad Faisal has confirmed that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be extended an invitation to attend the upcoming South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit to be held in Pakistan. The last SAARC summit was held in Katmandu, Nepal in 2014, and the following summit scheduled to be held in Islamabad, was cancelled in November 2016 after India refused to attend the summit. The SAARC summit in Islamabad had to be postponed as India also persuaded other five members of this association to stay away from this conference. But amazingly, Narendra Modi made a sudden dash to Lahore from Kabul on an unscheduled visit on 25th December 2016 along with his entourage including the Indian National Security Advisor and other high officials. He and his entourage had a meeting with the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and other members of Sharif family without the participation of Pakistani officials. What message Indian Prime Minister wanted to give to the government of Pakistan?
The opening of Kartatpura corridor is an important confidence building measure on the part of Pakistan which should have been properly reciprocated by India. But the Indian External Affairs Minster Ms Shushma Swuraj dropped a bomb shell when she announced that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not attend the upcoming SAARC summit if it is held in Pakistan. Talking to reporters she repeated the unfounded allegations of Pakistan’s involvement in 26/11 Mumbai attacks which later events exposed as false flag operation orchestrated by India itself to malign Pakistan in the international community and run away from the composite dialogue process. This false stance of the Indian government gained currency when former President Asif Zardari blamed non-state actors for the Mumbai attacks Ms Swuraj brushed off any possibility of improvement in relations between India and Pakistan, despite the opening of Kartarpur crossing. Repeating the Indian accusative narrative, she said that until and unless Pakistan stops terrorist activities in India there will be no dialogue and participation in SAARC conference is out of question.
The present BJP leadership is diametrically different from its predecessors like Atal Bihari Vajpai, Lal Krishna Advani and Jaswant Singh who preferred the dialogue process with Pakistan though it never produced concrete results. However, calm prevailed on the line of control and Pak India border.
The fate of SAARC has been in doldrums ever since Indian External Affairs Minister Shushma Swuraj left its meeting before hearing Pakistan’s statement on the sidelines of 73 United Nation General Assembly meeting in New York in September this year. It now appears that the upcoming summit is also imperiled as the Indian Prime Minister—while meeting his Nepali counterpart recently—threatened to sabotage it and possibly pull away from the initiative. India has gone into election mode and it remains to be seen whether Indian electorate gives mandate to political parties which supports dialogue process between the two neighbours.