Nefarious Pakistan game in Kartarpur ‘gift’

[dropcap]P[/dropcap]unjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh has poured cold water on his ministerial colleague Navjot Singh Sidhu’s hype over the Kartarpur corridor by dubbing it as an ISI and Pak army ploy. The captain claims that the news about the corridor was broken to Sidhu by Pak army General Qamar Javed Bajwa even before Imran Khan became prime minister and that shows it is part of a larger conspiracy hatched by the enemy army against India. The Pak game plan is to revive militancy in Punjab so as to create trouble on this side of the border.

Sidhu has an uncanny knack of being in the news for the wrong reasons. His ‘foot in the mouth’ remarks have often landed him in piquant situations but the self-styled comedian seems to relish those moments. Many of his approaches have been as fickle-minded as his political affiliations, which he is capable of changing in a jiffy. His relationship with the chief minister has not exactly been frothy. He went ahead with the trip for Kartarpur corridor opening despite the fact that the chief minister had turned down an invitation as a mark of protest against the killing of Indian soldiers by the Pakistani forces. A previous visit on the occasion of the swearing in of Imran Khan had raised a storm when Sidhu was seen hugging Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa. Amarinder had even advised Sidhu not to go to the Kartarpur event.

The move for opening the Kartarpur Sahib corridor is not entirely new. Former prime ministers Indira Gandhi and Manmohan Singh had taken up the issue with Pakistan during their times. Amarinder himself had raised the issue during his previous tenure as chief minister with his Pakistan Punjab counterpart Parvez Elahi and with former president Parvez Musharraf. But the chief minister has taken Sidhu’s conduct in his stride, saying that the former cricketer is a well-meaning person.

Sidhu almost snubbed the chief minister recently when he declared that Rahul Gandhi was his captain. But Amarinder showed sagacity by dismissing it as a non-issue and claimed that Sidhu always held him in fatherly esteem. In fact, Amarinder had maintained close relations with Sidhu’s parents as his father was the district Congress chief of Patiala and mother an MP from the area. At the same time he acknowledged that Sidhu was sometimes capable of ‘shooting’ without thinking.

The chief minister’s insight into the opening of the Kartarpur corridor cannot be drowned in the apparently innocuous controversy surrounding Sidhu’s trip. Pakistan is projecting the corridor initiative as a gift from across the border, but its nefarious game of fomenting trouble by whipping up religious sentiments of the Sikhs and encouraging disaffection and militancy cannot be lost sight of. And this is what Amarinder has exposed.