Addressing the foundation stone laying function of the much awaited Kartapur corridor for Sikh pilgrims, Prime Minister Prime Minister Imran Khan said, “The leadership of Pakistan and India must break free from the shekels of the past to move forward for normalizing relations and resolving bilateral disputes to achieve peace, which is inevitable for the prosperity of people of both nations, particularly, and by and large for the region.”He said peace cannot be attained until both sides looked towards the future instead of dwelling what had happened in the past.
The Prime Minister stressed the point that it would be madness to think about war between two nuclear powers. He has played a masterstroke putting the Indian leadership on the defensive which is revealed in the statement of Indian External Affairs Minster Ms. Shusma Suwaraj about India’s non-participation in the upcoming SAARC Summit in case its venue is Islamabad. Likewise, the going berserk of Indian media by linking the opening of corridor of festivities of Sikh religion with Khalistan movement substantiates the hostile attitude of Indian leadership. Ms Swuraj harped on the unfounded tune that Pakistan is involved in terrorist activities in India and ruled out the possibility of Prime Minister Narendra Modi attending the SARC conference.
Prime Minister Imran Khan rightly and categorically dismissed the so called myth of difference between civilian and military leadership over friendship with India. He said, “I want to tell you that civilian and military institutions are on the same page.”Former disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif used to stonewall this misperception in the context of Pak-India relations, which ran contrary to national interest. The Prime Minister reiterated his inaugural speech statement that Pakistan was ready to take two steps forward if India took one. He said, “The blame game and point scoring must not continue. The past teaches you a lesson to move forward.”
Recalling European history, the Prime Minister reflected that India and Pakistan may have killed each other but never had there been a massacre similar to that between Germany and France. He said Germany and France were living with open borders. “Their leaders broke the chains of the past and initiated business and investment.”He earnestly emphasised on strong relations between the two arch-rivals of South Asia to eliminate poverty from the subcontinent, adding, that our children have stunted growth and both countries have to move forward. Although the economic policies of PPP and PML-N governments during the past 10 years have pushed 45 percent population of Pakistan below the poverty line but the situation is relatively better as compared with India where 300 million people live in abject poverty condition.
The Prime Minister promised the Sikh community that his government would ensure modern civic facilities at Kartarpur when they come to celebrate the 550 anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak next year. He said,” I am overwhelmed by the happiness being reflectede on the faces of Sikh pilgrims.”
The leadership of opposition political parties has halfheartedly welcomed the important Confidence Building Measure of Kartarpur opening, which produces a ray of hope for improvement in relations between India and Pakistan. Although Awami National Party Central President Asfandiyar Wali in a press statement described this event a good omen but hastened to add that such a step is also needed on Pak-Afghan border. Perhaps he has forgotten the desire of open borders with Afghanistan in the Prime Ministers’ inaugural speech statement. He expressed this desire as being blue blooded Pukhtun of Niazi tribe and genuine national leader. Demonstrating his ill feeling about the persona of Imran Khan, Asfandiyar Wali said that the entire credit of Kartarpur opening should not be given to the incumbent Prime Minister. He claimed that both former Prime Ministers Benizir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif did make efforts in this regard. But media reports and books written on Pak-India relation does not vindicate this specific stance of the ANP Chief. Yes from 2003 and onwards President Musharraf had made efforts for the opening of this corridor.
The speech of Indian Union Minister Ms. Harsmart Kaur on the occasion gives credit to the Prime Minister Imrran Khan for this diplomatic achievement. She said, “What was not achieved in the past 70 years, Imran Khan did it in a few months.”This is the most brilliant tribute to his leadership qualities. Likewise, the provincial minister of Indian Punjab, Naojot Singh Sidhu thanked the Prime Minister in his speech and said Imran Khan’s name will be written in history books whenever there is a mention of Kartarpur. He eulogized the peace initiative of Pakistan and called for end to bloodshed and restoration of peace between the two countries. “There must be someone to ensure peace,” emotionally said Sidhu. This was a sort of wakeup call to the Indian leadership to reciprocate the goodwill of Pakistani leadership. It remains to be seen how the Indian leadership responds.