KARTARPUR CORRIDOR
Akali Dal's attempt to brand Navjot Sidhu as anti-national & ISI agent is ridiculous
- VIPIN PUBBY
Akali Dal's attempt to brand Navjot Sidhu as anti-national & ISI agent is ridiculous



THE PROPOSAL TO open a corridor for the historic and most revered Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan, on the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, has unfortunately degenerated into a political controversy.

What started as a sudden but very welcome disclosure to Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu by Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa at the swearing in ceremony of the new Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan, has snowballed into an acrimonious and bitter debate.

It is well known to all that Punjabis in general and Sikhs in particular had been demanding a corridor to the Gurdwara located just three kilometers inside Pakistan where Guru Nanak had spent over 15 years of his life. One only has to go the border near the Gurdwara on the indian side and see devotees trying to take a glimpse of the Gurdwara. Many return with moist eyes and prayers in their hearts that they would be able to pay obedience at the Gurdwara one day.

The 550th birth anniversary of the great guru was a wonderful opportunity to devotees to pray at the Gurdwara and the offer by Pakistan should have been welcomed by one and all.

Pakistan already offers passage to the Nankana Sahib Gurdwara during gurpurab and India is generous in allowing pilgrims from Pakistan to Ajmer Sharif Dargah and other important places for the Muslims from Pakistan. 
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The proposal to open a corridor for the historic and most revered Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan, on the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, has unfortunately degenerated into a political controversy. Rather than making such efforts, the Shiromani Akali Dal has taken the lead in criticising Sidhu. While the rivalry between him and the Akali leadership is well known, to describe him as anti national and even an ISI agent is ridiculous.
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Such a gesture by Pakistan neither absolves the Pakistan army or its rulers for the repeated and continued attacks on indian territory. This one gesture should not be equated with other issues the two countries have.

The border between India and Pakistan was drawn hastily within a period of two months by the British lawyer Cyril Radcliffe who had never been to India earlier and no idea of the sentiments of either the Sikhs, Hindus or the Muslims. He simply drew a line on the Ravi river. One can presume that had he known the  significance of Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, he would have included it within Indian territory.

Anyway the border has not remained static ever since the artificial line was drawn. A lot of changes have been brought after wars. In one early peaceful exchange of territories, the samadhis of Shaheeds Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were transferred to India in exchange of a piece of land to Pakistan.

Even in the recent times, several areas have been exchanged between India and Bangladesh to resolve the disputed lands since 1947. Indian should actually engage with Pakistan for a possible exchange of land  so that Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib could be included in India.

Rather than making such efforts, the Shiromani Akali Dal has taken the lead in criticising Sidhu. While the rivalry between him and the Akali leadership is well known, to describe him as anti national and even an ISI agent is ridiculous. Even the party’s coalition partner, the Bhajpa, has not taken a positive view. According to leaked stories apparently at the behest of Akalis, Sidhu was alleged "pulled up” by external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj. "Pulled up” for what was not clarified.

Akalis, currently in a corner in the wake of sacrilege incidents and the justice Ranjit Singh report, are fighting with their back to the wall. They claim to be the actual representatives of the Sikhs. However they must realise that the issue of Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib is emotionally very close to the sentiments of the people whom they claim to represent. It would be in the interest of their own political future that they push the government of India to take up the issue with Pakistan.
 
 

*(The author, a freelance journalist, is a former Resident Editor of Indian Express, Chandigarh, and reported on the political developments in Jammu and Kashmir, North-Eastern India, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab in his long, illustrious career.)

 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

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