POK & Bharat have entered into an agreement for divergent partisan political constraints.
On 9 November 2019, the Kartarpur corridor was opened for pilgrimage, almost two decades after the idea was proposed in February 1998 as part of Delhi – Lahore bus diplomacy by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. On the eve of opening the corridor, Narendra Modi compared the decision by the two countries of the corridor to that of the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989.
Pakistan has not only opened the corridor but acquired over 400 acres of land to establish the main gurudwara complex and the surrounding area thereby expanding the main temple complex ten times of original of 4 acres to 42 acres. How come Pakistan under Taliban Imran Niazi has become so benevolent and acceded to the long pending demand of Bharat? Or there is some nefarious design behind the move.
After falling flat on the Kashmir Annexation plan Pakistan has activated its “Plan B (Bharat- Khalistan” plan). With the aim to weaken Bharat, the opening of the Kartarpur corridor is the first step to wade through a phase to reignite/revive Punjab (Khalistan) with the terminal aim of Khalistan.
Overtly Pakistan is trying to send a message to the world community of softening the beleaguered radical and terrorist supportive image, Pakistan is optimistic about support from the dormant groups in Canada & the UK for reactivating the demand of Khalistan. The display of photographs of Bhinderwalan and an alleged unexploded bomb inside the Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara premises with written tags “dropped by Indian Air Force in 1971 in an attempt to destroy Gurudwara” and also the display of crowd with Khalistan flags in promotional videos supportive of Plan B.
If we go by media reports in recent months, in addition to Muridke and Shakargarh, Indian intelligence reported that they spotted alleged terrorist training camps in the Narowal district where the gurdwara is located. There are “a substantial number of men and women are reportedly camping and undergoing training”. It is a most likely part of preparations in support of reviving militancy in Punjab. This can be connected to the reports of drones used by Pakistan to drop weapons/ammunition/equipment in Punjab.
In 2017 one of the Parliamentary committees had gone into detail study of the feasibility of the Kartarpur corridor and had brought out that however desirable it may be but the opening of such corridor was not advised for security and on-ground constraints. The recommendation was ignored for reasons well known to Mandarins in Delhi. It is apparent that Pakistan and Bharat have entered into an agreement for divergent partisan political and domestic constraints.
The biggest challenge now for the security establishment on Bharat side is to counter hostile elements in Pakistan against their anti-Bharat narrative especially “those likely to come into contact with pilgrims at the shrine”. In light of safe heaven being provided to Khalistan leadership by Pakistan, the real concern will be guarding our devotees against identification, recruitment, radicalization and at later stage expose them to diaspora elements who would in the future mobilise support for Khalistan.
Like we did with Bangladesh It would be prudent for Bharat to demand and initiate for “Exchange of Enclave”. It’s less likely that any wall is going to fall but yes Pakistan may fall and dismember if Bharat executed Plan POK. But for some reason, if in future the corridor is shut down the sense of loss will be far greater than that of not having access to Kartarpur for over 7 decades.
-Col Devanand Lohamarod