IN A SCATHING CRITICISM of the Narendra Modi government's plans to hoist a 300-feet-tall Indian Tricolor at Sri Kartarpur Sahib Corridor leading to the shrine associated with Sikhism's founder Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Punjab's outspoken senior politician Bir Devinder Singh said both New Delhi and Islamabad should pull back from display of aggressive nationalism that was in complete conflict with the philosophy and preachings of the great Guru.
"You want to turn Kartarpar Sahib into another spot like Wagah where soldiers can stomp the ground and kick high up in the air in an ugly display of competitive territorial sovereignty and natonalism? The Sikh community and the brave Punjabis on both sides of the border should not allow their respective governments to walk down that path,
" Bir Devinder told Punjab Today.
Earlier in the day, at a press conference in Jalandhar, the former Deputy Speaker of Punjab Assembly, released two separate letters he wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan's premier Imran Khan, arguing for the need to shun away the practice and instead celebrate the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor as an ‘Equatorial Line of Interfaith Understanding.’
"Modi and Imran Khan right now have the power to use this corridor and occasion as pious as the 550th Birth Anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev Ji to display "the humankind’s capacity to dream big to achieve mutual love and peace," he said.
Known for raising core issues impacting Punjab and Sikhism and often hailed as a master orator, Bir Devinder Singh said Modi and Khan have both displayed political courage and the corridor has turned into a reality in the face of complex political landmine of competing interests and spasmodic nature of India-Pakistan relations.
"It will be a shame if all of it now ends up in a display of territorial arrogance with a 300 feet Indian flag going up and then another 300 feet tall Pakistani flag being raised on the other side," the seasoned leader said.
Bir Devinder, whose long career in politics saw him at one stage heading the All India Sikh Students Federation (AISSF), said it was "absolutely pertinent" that the entire corridor venture must "not stray away from the philosophy of the great Guru whose 550th Gurpurab we are about to mark with this international corridor."
"Nothing should happen, not even inadvertently, that is fundamentally contrary to the spirit of the teachings of Guru Nanak," he said, and wrote to PM Modi that a Tricolor "hardly fit into a paradigm of religiosity, spirituality and universal brotherhood that the Sikh Gurus sought to imbue this land with."
In his letter to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, Bir Devinder Singh said he displayed "an audacity of hope" by conceding the demand for corridor and urged him to "not fall for any competing display" by hoisting any massive Pakistan national flag at Sri Kartarpur Sahib.
"Competitive ego matches have brought our two nations to a point where we have to wait for decades" before taking any bold decisions, Bir Devinder Singh told Imran Khan and urged the two premiers "to sit together and convince each other that Sri Kartarpur Sahib needs no national flags."
"Please convince my prime minister and allow him to convince you that both India and Pakistan will do well not to start hoisting national flags and instead let the Sri Kartarpur Sahib Corridor emerge as an ‘Equatorial Line of Interfaith Understanding’ in South Asia," Bir Devinder Singh said.
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