As the anger builds up in India against Pakistan after the Pulwama terror attack, fears have started mounting over the fate of the Kartarpur Corridor, a long pending demand of the Sikh community that is finally seeing the light of the day with work in progress on both sides of the border. Several quarters feel that the attack, which left 40 CRPF personnel dead, may cast a shadow on Corridor.
As India withdrew the status of Most Favoured Nation (MFN) conferred on Pakistan, all eyes are on the Corridor now. With Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh urging the Centre to give a “befitting reply” to Pakistan, the state was abuzz with a discussion that if such an action was taken, it would mean curtains on the Corridor.
Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri, who was in Amritsar, said the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre was committed towards letting devotees to pay obeisance at the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan but added that there was a need to be realistic on the issue.
“I don’t want to give any judgment over it. I had said on returning after attending ground breaking ceremony of the Corridor in Pakistan that we should be realistic. Pakistan has been undermining us for many years. They use terror as instrument of policy. This latest terror attack fits into that pattern. It is my personal, and government’s view also, there cannot be business as usual,” he said.
Without taking any name, the union minister said political leaders went to Pakistan and hugged Pakistan army chief without realising that such people engineered terror attacks against India.
“As per my opinion, trade activities cannot take place with the Pakistan in the light of prevailing circumstances particularly after terror attack in Pulwama,” he added.
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He said, “Surgical strike was a step after the Uri attack and this time too government will take required action…We should be realistic over this strategy of Pakisan. On the one hand it has responded to the Corridor but on the other hand it is supporting terror groups from its soil against India. How long will this go ? Even Amarinder Singh had warned Pakistan army during ground breaking ceremony of the Corridor on Indian side against carrying out inhuman attacks in India.”
Amarinder, meanwhile, expressed hope that the heightened bitterness between the two nations would not impact the Corridor. “I hope the attack will not impact Kartarpur Corridor. I have already pressed for visa-free ‘khule darshan’.”
He added that he was confident the corridor would be well protected, but said there was need for a change in attitude on the part of Pakistan if peace between the two countries was to be promoted. Amarinder was responding to a question on whether the developments over the last 48 hours mean an end of road for the Corridor.
The Congress camp feels that there could be political ramifications, at least in Punjab, if the project is shelved. “But the Congress will have nothing to lose as the onus will be on BJP. “
A Congress leader said the attack had vindicated Amarinder’s stand on Pakistan. “That is why he spoke with such conviction in the Assembly today. He can see through the designs of Pakistan. But it remains to be seen whether the Sikhs are able to see through or not.”
Punjab’s local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who stirred up a controversy by attending the ground breaking ceremony of Kartarpur corridor on Pakistan side, expressed confidence that the project will become a reality. “Do you mean to say a few miscreants can turn down efforts of peace between two nations? Why should a corridor of peace be overshadowed by an act of miscreants? “ he said.
Incidentally, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee, feels that the terror attack will not have an impact on the Corridor issue. “It is not the first attack. Such attack have taken place in past too. We don’t think it should have any impact on Kartarpur Corridor. These are inhuman acts and enemies of humanity carry out such attacks. Kartarpur Corridor is different issue and it should not be linked with attack,” SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal said.
He said, “Both countries have been working on Kartarpur corridor and these talks and activities should continue. Corridor will pave way for peace and harmony between the two countries.”
Shiromani Akali Dal spokesman and former minister Daljit Singh Cheema said, “Our party would definitely like to see the Kartarpur Corridor developed. The attack should not have an impact on the Corridor. We will see what happens in future.”
Dera Baba Nanak municipal committee president Perneet Singh said the project can bring peace to the region. “Dera Baba Nanak has suffered the tag of border town for years. It was after 70 years of partition that we were able to see development coming to Dera Baba Nanak in form of Kartarpur Corridor. But this attack may prove fatal for the project. This project can bring peace to region.”