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Will Kartarpur Sahib Corridor Remain a “Corridor of Faith” or Will Become A “Corridor of Instability”

Brig Narender (Retd) writes, eagerness of Pakistan and especially the Pak Army Chief to open the Kartarpur Corridor from Gurdaspur District to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan must be viewed with scepticism

Chief Minister of Punjab Captain Amarinder Singh during the Kartarpur Corridor foundation stone laying ceremony said, “We will not tolerate conspiracies by Pak Army chief”. The eagerness of Pakistan and especially the Pak Army Chief to open the corridor from Gurdaspur District to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan must be viewed with scepticism.

We must look at the emerging contours of security situation in Punjab. First it was drug war triggered by ISI of Pakistan that engulfed Punjab and entire North India and when the drug cartels managed to establish network through the North Indian States the efforts to revive the militancy in Punjab surfaced. The strain of revival of militancy emerged with the serial killing of few Hindu leaders in 2017 and recent attack on Nirankari religious gathering in Amritsar District. Targets have been carefully selected to cause communal divide, however, the Chief Minister of Punjab has been able to identify the motive and real hands behind these acts of terror.

One can’t say with confidence that opening of the corridor is an advantage to India, or it is advantage Pakistan to facilitate opening of another front and create instability in Punjab. Euphoria about ‘people to people’ contact is certainly fraught with risk given the track record of Pakistan and ISI. It will be a miscalculation to view the intentions of Pakistan as honest and sincere. Rather it has the potential of speeding up of revival of militancy in Punjab.

ISI and Pakistan Army will be more than eager to utilise this opportunity to re-establish contact with larger youth populations and drug cartels to review militancy by offering money, weapons and drug trade. The contact with the Khalistani ideologues operating from Pakistan and other countries is a possibility. I sincerely hope corridor does not become a hub of revival of militancy in Punjab. So far Khalistani ideologues operating from Pakistan had no platform except social media to establish connectivity, however, now with the opening of the corridor it will be possible for them to establish physical contact with vulnerable youths and fringe elements. It will be an irony if such a pious corridor becomes victim of conspiracy.

When CM of Punjab warned the Pakistan Army Chief about their evil designs, he was aware of the hidden agenda of the Pakistan Army Chief and his eagerness to open the corridor post haste. There is a need to create balance between populism and long term strategic interests of a nation. If this corridor becomes a victim of conspiracy, it will be sad and we will have to blame ourselves for bringing it on us. How can we be blind to what happened couple of years back in Pathankot and Gurdaspur. Will those politicians who are more than eager to create euphoria to open the corridor take the responsibility, if the “Corridor of Faith” becomes “Corridor of Instability”?

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