Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu has a penchant for getting involved in controversies. While some of it may be harmless, any act of his that impinges on the nation’s assertion of sovereignty and has a bearing on the country’s policy framework must be deterred strongly. The latest is over his visit to Pakistan to participate in the ground-breaking ceremony of the corridor linking Gurdwara Darbar Sahib--the final resting place of Guru Nanak--with Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur.
Coming close on the heels of his visit to Pakistan to attend the oath-taking ceremony of Prime Minister Imran Khan which disturbed a hornet’s nest for the hug he gave to the enemy country’s Army Chief, the latest visit was in defiance of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s sane advice to him not to attend.
In Pakistan, questioned about the hug, Sidhu said: "The hug was for hardly a second, it was not Rafale deal.” Evidently, it was a dig at the Modi government on alien soil.
Significantly, the latest visit came a day after he had skipped the foundation-laying ceremony on the Indian side which made it appear that he couldn’t care less about the Indian position that it was sacrilegious to hug a person whose hands were soiled figuratively with the blood of Indian soldiers.
While Sidhu posed for cameras with Pakistani leaders at the ground-breaking ceremony, Amarinder warned Pakistan at the foundation-laying ceremony on the Indian side to “rein in its Army”, saying that the Indian Army was “bigger” and “fully prepared.”
Sooner than later, Amarinder will need to take a call on whether his credibility is not suffering from the defiance of Sidhu time and again.
The Narendra Modi government at the Centre must also ponder upon whether a wayward politician like Sidhu can be given a free rein on when he chooses to represent India in Pakistan and what he says or does in that country. Sidhu can hardly be allowed to go berserk with his comments and gestures.
That Pakistan has suddenly agreed to facilitate a corridor to Guru Nanak’s final resting place—a longstanding demand of India—makes one wonder if there is more to it than meets the eye. What makes it more suspicious is the fact that the initiative has apparently come from the Pakistan Army Chief who had made the offer to Sidhu when he went to Islamabad for Imran’s swearing-in and the Army Chief is attending the event of ground-laying.
It makes one wonder if the Pakistanis have some sinister designs to fuel Khalistani insurgency in Punjab by encouraging the separatist elements to visit the shrine and unleash their propaganda with Indian pilgrims or even to infiltrate into India to foment subversion.
It goes without saying that India would need to be super watchful, knowing the potential for mischief of the Pakistan Army.
Besides, while there can be no dispute that opening a passage to Guru Nanak’s resting place is a long-due positive step, initiatives like this have to be part of a well-thought-out plan. The Pakistanis cannot appropriate to themselves the credit for this act while cocking a snook at India by training and infiltrating terrorists for subversive
action in Kashmir.
As things stand, it is common knowledge that it is the Army that calls the shots in Pakistan and the civilian government of Imran Khan is only a stooge in its hands.
Can India then afford to be fooled by such make-believe thawing measures like providing access to Sikh pilgrims to visit Guru Nanak’s shrine while the real bone of contention--India’s inalienable right over Kashmir—goes unaddressed. Can terror perpetrators trained in Pakistan be allowed to run riot in Kashmir by a country that is a sworn enemy of India?
Finally, are we convinced that the Kartarpur corridor would not facilitate infiltration of Khalistanis abroad to foment trouble in Punjab?