Editor : Satish Ohri    Edition : Jan - Feb 2019

Googly or One Upmanship

Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Pakistan foreign minister seems to lack the sophistication required of his job. It was no doubt entertaining for his home audience when in 2010 he displayedhis boorish behavior by insulting his then Indian counterpart, S. M Krishna, who was on an official visit to his country, by alleging that he needed repeated instructions from New Delhi to talk to him. He was at it again recently when he boasted that Pakistan had bowled India out with a ‘googly’at Kartarpur. The fact appeared to be that Pakistan did not know how to save its wicket. His comments came in the backdrop of a brief visit by a team of Indian ministers to Kartarpur (Pakistan) to witness the opening of the ‘Kartarpur Corridor’, linking two Sikh shrines on either side of the international border in Punjab, by the Pakistan prime minister, Imran Khan. Qureshi thought that the ‘googly’ left India with no choice but to send a ministerial team to Pakistan and thus upended the policy of ‘no talks with Pakistan’. Maybe, he also credit his ‘googly’ to the turmoil witnessed in India’s internal politics after the Kartarpur event. The ruling BJP accused the Opposition Congress party of ‘treachery’ by letting Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu accept an invitation from Imran Khan and then singing paeans to Imran Khan, his rival on the field during their cricketing days. Qureshi could also be deriving pleasure from the outrage in India over the fact that the Pakistan-based Khalistani Gopal Singh Chawla was among the prominent guests at the Kartarpur function. He obviously was incapable of realising that the presence of Chawla, said to be the secretary of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee—controlled by the ISI-- only confirmed the Indian belief that Pakistan has renewed efforts to revive the secessionist and violent Khalistani movement. It is not clear if Pakistan will actually complete its part of the Kartarpur Corridor in time for next year’s 550th celebrations of founding of Sikhism. But it will not be out of place to apprehend that once the Kartarpur Corridor has been completed, Pakistan will do its best to use it for misleading and indoctrination of visiting pilgrims from India. They will be heartily welcomed by the Khalistan is in Pakistani who thrive under the patronage of the ISI. The Kartarpur Corridor, according to media reports, would provide visa-free access to Indian pilgrims. On the face of it, it appears to be gesture of magnanimity by Pakistan. But that only facilitate Pakistan to let loose anti-India elements on the visitors from across the border. It will be puerile for Qureshi to think that he was able to set a storm in Indian politics with his ‘googly’ comment. The BJP-Congress war in India is being fought intensely for almost five years now. It is one war that continues on its own steam and does not require the help of a googly bowler. Forget that Imran Khan in his heydays as cricketer (and also a playboy by choice) was known to bowl fast and not slow googlies or leg spin, the analogy used by Qureshi was a ‘googly’ that exposed his own government’s real intentions about India. His penchant for one-upmanshipand not so veiled attack on India during an admittedly pious occasion does not support the official Pakistani position that it wants ‘peace’ with India. His vocabulary does nocredit to his job as his country’s top diplomat. He is provocative and coarse when talking about India. He has said nothing that encourages belief that his government wants India to join in a bilateral dialogue for ‘peace’ in the subcontinent. He thinks that irritating India is the best way to force India to resume the stalled bilateral dialogue! By all accounts the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor that links Gurdwara Baba Nanak Sahib in Gurdaspur (Punjab) with Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan—a distance of about four kilometer across the international border-- is a welcome step. It fulfills a long standing demand of Sikhs to facilitate easy access to a place across the border where Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, had spent the last 18 years of his life. India had made the proposal for the corridor about two decades back. Pakistan failed to respond positively. But out of the blue, it now talks about the corridor, clearly with an eye on wooing the Sikh community. Pakistan also wants to exclusively apportion credit for it. India is used to Pakistani games that are played in a bid to salvage its battered image on the world stage.

In ordinary times, the ceremonies held to launch the Kartarpur Corridor would have been a sacred and joyous occasion, but the ‘googly’ bowlers of Pakistan converted it into an occasion of debased politics by raking up the Kashmir issue when India, keeping in mind the sacredness of the moment, had desisted from talking of the export of terror by Pakistan. There is a view that the Kartarpur event had the potential of turning a new chapter of good bilateral relations between India and Pakistan. But Imran Khan, Mahmood Qureshi and Company decided to sing a familiar discordant note. The remarks made by Imran Khan during his meeting with Indian journalists who had gone to Pakistan to cover the Kartarpur event as also his speech at Kartarpur itself gave no hint that he or his government is ready to take the plunge for ‘peace’ with India. By harping on Kashmir and ‘atrocities’ by Indian armed forces Imran Khan made it clear that Pakistan will not move an inch towards improving relations with India unless it has been handed over Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan justifies harping on Kashmir day and night. But Pakistan’s ‘core issue’ cannot be discussed when it is unapologetic in exporting terror to India to meet its nefarious designs. Well, if Pakistan must raise the Kashmir issue at all platforms and occasions why shouldn’t India likewise talk of terror export by Pakistan? Imran Khan expressed a shocking inability to curb terrorism against India when he said that it was a problem that he had ‘inherited’.Every government inherits problems from its predecessor but it is duty bound to tackle those problems and find solutions. Some analysts in India noted that Imran Khan has acknowledged that his country indeed pushes terrorists into India. A Pakistani ‘googly’!

-BAZH Special

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