Pakistan Wins in the Sikh Punjab under Imran’s Captaincy

Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses groundbreaking ceremony of Kartarpur corridor in Narowal

Posted by Express Tribune Video on Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Anyone who knows my writing knows that I am a voicerferous critic of Pakistan and Islam; especially since Hazrat Asia’s unfair imprisonment.

But I must say this Kartarpur Corridor is a huge win by Pakistan and Imran.

As an aside and not to quibble but it’s obvious that Imran “thinks English and speaks Urdu.” While he is fluent in Urdu he’s not immersed in the language and his English borrowing is unseemly. However that is neither here or there and shouldn’t detract from his powerful message.

I will relay a curious incident over the weekend. I was speaking to my friend’s father who was visiting from Delhi. He had asked me if I ate pork to which I replied in the affirmative and in return I asked him if he ate beef.

His response startled me telling me that he had everything and that there was no prohibition in beef-eating in Sikhism and that furthermore while he was Indian he wasn’t Hindu. This is not a Jat Sikh Khalistani but a Khatri background (at Partition they came from the Pindi region) and I was struck by the quiet and emphatic manner of speaking.

Furthermore from the deepest tendrils I am able to sense slightest discomfort with Indians & Hindus (understandably so given their thoughts on Pakistan) when they are interacting with Pakistanis, which is why I tend to downplay it to an almost invisible degree (I tend to ramp up the Parsi connotations) but with this chap he was almost positive aboethnicity married to the latter casteut the fact that I was a Pakistani.

By playing high, & not low for once, Pakistan has generated incredible goodwill by showing love & tolerance across the border. There will be very few Sikhs who will have the heart to abuse Pakistan after this magnanimous gesture.

A friend of mine bemoaned on Facebook as to why all Indo-Pak reconciliations centred on the Punjab and why didn’t it involve other “split ethnicities” like the Muhajirs or Hindu Sindhis. Initially I was struck by the status since I’m from the former married to the latter. However Punjabi blood was the painful sacrifice of Partition so it is only fair that they determine the tempo of peace and reconciliation..

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40 Replies to “Pakistan Wins in the Sikh Punjab under Imran’s Captaincy”

  1. “His response startled me telling me that he had everything and that there was no prohibition in beef-eating in Sikhism and that furthermore while he was Indian he wasn’t Hindu”

    There is this stereotyping as dal khor(vegetarianism) in the subcontinent. For the pashtuns its the Pak-Punjabis, for the Pak muslims its the hindus ie Indian. This is where the whole 10 hindus=1 muslim thing stems from. Hindus are majorly non vegetarian eating people (apart from beef and even though there is no taboo attached they dont eat pork either). Having said that the upper class hindus eat everything just like you do. But the vegetarian hindu stereotype stems from ethnicities which dominate India popular/business culture ie Gujrati, Marwadi and S-Indian/N-Indian brahmins. In a funny way Indian movies themselves have internalized and perpetuate this stereotype as vegetarian hindu vs meat eating muslim (Padmavat is the recent example).

    “Furthermore from the deepest tendrils I am able to sense slightest discomfort with Indians & Hindus”

    Depends on which ethnicity and community you are talking to. India does not have a Pakistan policy because its ethnicities does not have the same view/cultural memory of Pakistan. The south/bengal does not have antipathy towards Pakistan. The punjabis/sindhis swing from one extreme to the other. Either its hate of partition or bonding over shared identities. Last the muslims of India who too are aloof towards Pakistan. That’s why the South/Bengal doesn’t get Pakistan ( Shashi Tharoor etc) and North is divided on Pakistan.

    “There will be very few Sikhs who will have the heart to abuse Pakistan after this magnanimous gesture.”

    Many in my friend circle feel India is walking into a trap, but i think Pakistan too has opened itself up to something which in the long term will be unsustainable. Let’s wait and watch. But yes Pakistan has played this card really well.

    ” However Punjabi blood was the painful sacrifice of Partition so it is only fair that they determine the tempo of peace and reconciliation”

    I feel the population terms matter , both Muhajirs and sindhi hindus were not in absolute terms partitioned like Punjabis. Both their population along with the staggered way they moved to either side lessened the pain of Partition. Also population will also determine that were be no reconciliation between India and Pak. Punjabi/sindhis make up less than 5 percent of India’s population(Unlike Pak), and even though N-India is a divided lot vis-v dealing with Pak, the “non reconciliation” folks is still far greater than the critical mass to stem any real reconciliation.

    P.S : I think there is this view within well intention Pakistanis that sort of moving on trade, acting against terror, people to people contact etc will actually help in India-Pak reconciliation. I dont fault them since for the longest time India itself has parroted this narrative. That time has long gone (probably in late 90s or mid 2000s). Indo-Pak issues are not as superficial anymore. Now i dare say India and especially N-Indians look more and more in this issue similar to how Pakistani see it . As a civilization/cultural/religious conflict.

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  2. The opening of the corridor is a good move and would be really beneficial to Sikh pilgrams. However, trust Sushma Swaraj to put a damper on things by saying that this will not lead to a resumption of dialogue and that India will not attend the SAARC summit if it is held in Pakistan. It seems the BJP has no interest in peace with Pakistan.

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  3. If Pakistan markets the Hinglaj temple well, there is potential for huge $$$ to be minted.

    Just look at how Sabarimala/Vaishno Devi etc have exploded in popularity over the last few decades.

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    1. Yes the “Dharmic dividend” for Pakistan can be immense. Circumstance is forcing Pakistan’s hand, what inspired and enlightened leadership could have brought about 70years ago.

      There is no reason why Pakistan could not have been a 10k USD per capita country by now; it had had all the ingredients for it.

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      1. I am not so sure an enlightened leadership would have made a lot of difference. Pakistani culture is not conducive to a modern technology-enabled economy.
        The masses are barely literate anyway and the relative size of the intellectual elite is really small, even when compared to India.

        Turkey and Iran, with far better cultures are still middling economically.

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          1. @VijayVan

            Do not confuse geography for country. A country is made by people with a specific software running inside their skulls. The software of the people who produced AcArya pANini no longer runs inside the heads of the people living in the same geographical coordinates.

            gandhAra-viSayo sArasvataH janmbhUrAsIt nAsti bhaviSyati naiva ca

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          2. @Slapstik
            That’s my point – the replacement software is infinitely worse. Like replacing Windows 7 with MSDos v3 instead of Windows 10 to run a laptop.
            I meant country loosely, an ethnic territoriality, desh.
            I vaguely understand the quote, stuck in ‘janmbhUrAsIt’ . Please explain

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        1. Prats, that said do you feel that pakistan’s ultimate potential varies greatly from neighbouring regions of india? One advantage I see in india is relatively higher female literacy which I feel may drive human capital development down the line, but then pakistan has a lower cultural tolerance for malnutrition which is also important.

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          1. That’s a tricky question. Potential is only realised later and any prediction might seem stupid in hindsight.

            But I’ll let my biases out here. I do think neighbouring Indian states (PB, HR, RJ, GJ) have a higher potential in the next 20 years or so. Mainly because they have some basics of a modern economy in place – power generation, industrial base, decent quality higher education institutions.

            HDI is almost on par either side of the border but literacy rate is pretty low overall in Pak (might even be declining).

            Indian states also have the advantage of having well to-do members in the common market (MH, South India) unlike Pakistani Punjab and Sindh, which mostly have tribal bad-lands to deal with.

            I would be more interested in seeing how Pakistan performs vis a vis UP in the next 20 years.

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      2. Tutti ingredienti and more. Can get the Cultists out of the desert but can’t get the yearning for the desert out of the Cultists. We all know the GDP per capita of the desert minus oil.

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  4. Some years back, Pakistani government made a Sikh Affairs committee or something like that. It was staffed with top ISI personnel, Sikhs saw through the cynical game of PA/ ISI , got sick – not Sikh- of it and it came to nothing. Sikhs can easily see through cynical manipulation.

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    1. Yes but Kartarpur corridor isn’t just slick manipulation; it’s a genuinely goodwill offer. It allows the temple to be busy (and maintained) constantly.

      It’s important to criticise when Pakistan does something wrong but equally so to cheer it on when it does something right..

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      1. Yes, the Kartarpur corridor is a hopeful sign. It is quite ridiculous that Sikhs had to view one of their holiest sites using binoculars even though it was just 4 km across the border. The Indian Punjabi politicians seem to be happy with the plans. It is only the central government that doesn’t seem interested in building on this step.

        People to people contact is one of the best ways to build trust. We have to take positive steps like this and work towards solving our other issues as well. I don’t think that any of those issues are “civilizational” (as Saurav says) but rather political. As Prime Minister Khan said, if France and Germany could solve their issues, there is no reason why India and Pakistan can’t. Even Kashmir–the toughest issue by far– surely has some kind of a solution that will be acceptable to everyone.

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          1. It takes two to tango. If too many concessions are made at the beginning, what is the incentive to negotiate?

            India doesn’t want to talk about the Kashmir Dispute or even about anything else until “terror” ends (which is basically an excuse to never talk to Pakistan). Good luck solving problems that way.

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          2. Barki bro kashmir is already settled. islamists like u just need to accept it. Pyar say ya mar say 🙂

            Kashmir will have the world Buddhist council soon like our forefather Turks attended it during ata Kanishk’s time.

            #DhammaRulez

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  5. Zack,

    I do not wish to dampen your enthusiasm but it is necessary that we do not get carried away. I am not too sure that this gesture has come out of some genuine goodwill. Let me explain with the help of a few other developments :-

    1. The request for the corridor as per the article in Dawn has been there for atleast 30 years. Sushma Swaraj herself said that the Indian Govt has been requesting this for 20 years. So the Pakistani establishment has finally agreed after all these many years. But what took them so long ?

    2. As per a clip from Pakistani media, the Pakistani minister for information (or something like that) is seen acknowledging that it is General Bajwa who agreed for the corridor only after which Imran came into the picture. So it is a brainchild of Bajwa and not Imran Khan.

    3. This opening of the corridor has come about at the same time when there are intelligence reports in India that the Khalistan terror network is being ramped up again in Punjab. There was a recent bombing at some religious gathering in Punjab where 3 people were killed and authorities have linked it to this terror network.

    4. There have been reports that the Indian diplomats are not being allowed an entry into the Kartarpur shrine. At the same time, within the premises of the shrine there were Khalistani posters which have been shown in the Indian media.

    5. Times Now and Zee News last night, showed a video of a notorious Khalistani rabble rouser making a speech praising Bhindranwale and also linking the Khalistani and the Kashmiri ‘freedom struggles’. In another clip, that Sardar can be clearly seen hobnobing with none other than Bajwa.

    6. Finally, has someone noticed that the Pakistani establishment is often trying to seek the goodwill of Indian Sikhs but it shows the least interest in developing similar level of goodwill with the Indian Hindus. For example, do we see the Pakistani establishment being eager to open up Katasraj or Hinglaj for Indian Hindus ? Obviously not. Now why would that be so ? Could the support and encouragement for Khalistan have anything to do with it ?

    So when one looks at it all, it becomes necessary to not get carried away. There is something going on and what is being projected is just a charade.

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      1. True, but as I said, the current development has to be seen in context. It is pertinent that the Punjab CM Amarinder Singh, who is from Congress, refused to attend the ceremony in Pakistan.

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      2. Indian Hindus do come to Katas Raj.

        Pakistan may support “Khalistan” (India did help to break up Pakistan after all) but the “Khalistan” issue only exists because atrocities were committed against Sikhs. No amount of Pakistani support could create an issue where one didn’t already exist. Not that I think supporting “Khalistan” is good policy for Pakistan.

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        1. but the “Khalistan” issue only exists because atrocities were committed against Sikhs.

          Care to cite whatever you were referring to? I was too young to understand the political issues during the height of the violence in Punjab, but from what I’ve read it was an intra-Sikh fight, with one faction being very extremist (and intolerant in an Abrahamic mold.)

          I don’t consider Bluestar to be an atrocity. It was necessary and justified, though it was done in a hamfisted manner. The massacre of the Sikhs in Delhi after Indira’s murder were barbaric, but that post-dated the Khalistani movement (and I doubt you were referring to that.)

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          1. There was an armed raid inside Sikhism’s holiest site. I think that would be enough to make some people very angry.

            The point is that there must have been some underlying issues that Pakistan may be taking advantage of. Issues cannot be created out of thin air.

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    1. Nothing major happens in Pakistan without the initiation from or approval from army/ ISI , and the latter’s age-old, inflexible policy is ‘beggar thy neighbours ‘.

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    2. well if this is true, it means modi is dumb and has simply caved into akali dal allies in punjab. On other hand, modi and Indian bureaucrats are dumb anyway with their aman ka tamasha.

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  6. Neither Hingalaj (In the god forsaken Balochistan) or Katas raj have any major significance for the Hindus. Its wrong to compare them with Sabrimala etc. First the temples themselves have to be a major attraction for the local hindu community to really build on it. There is no Baloch/Punjabi hindu pops in those areas of any significance to really built on it. Both the places have acquired more significance then the actually are due to being exotic (hindu temples in Muslim land). That’s the reason people even go and visit more as cultural/sight seeing place rather than some religious place.

    Hindus were lucky they got what they considered as sacred in the territorial boundaries of India. All hindu religious places in Pak territory are mostly obliterated anyways(so no cultural memory for 100s of years) so there is that. The only hindu/buddhist places of any significance lies in the Northen areas and that too hundred of miles away from the border. So that’s a pipe dream considering that its a disputed thing and one thing will lead to another. We are minimizing the role of logistics here, Kartarpur just happens to be only 4 kms into Pakistan territory and thats why this is a corridor and its feasible. Nothing else of that sort would work for any other religious places.

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    1. I had the impression that Hinglaj mata is still a pretty big deal, being a kuladevi for a lot of communities. The cultural memory is still strong enough that I could see the attraction of visiting for a lot of people. Fly into Karachi and then a <4 hr taxi ride to the site, not too arduous either.

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      1. Lol, half of the folks in India first even heard of that temple’s existence because of one of the few places Jaswant Singh, Advani (him being born in Pakistan and all) visited. The most it means is probably for Sindhi hindus. And i dont think even they visit Hingalaj in any significant numbers. It has been allowed to stay on because it was co -opted by a muslim peer to showcase sindhi sycrentism or whatever.

        In that way Katas raj is comparably more “popular” since its easier and safer to access and that;s the reason it still has some Indian visitors unlike Hinglaj.

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        1. I think the popularity of any pilgrim site in India has a huge function of marketing and word of mouth.
          How much ‘value’ it holds in a spiritual sense is secondary and might even be a function of the former.

          Siddhivinayak doesn’t really have any history but is a huge draw for people visiting there. All because it’s popular with some Bolly folks (Amitabh Bachchan made a big deal of it IIRC). I have even seen Sikhs going there.

          Hinglaj has huge potential in that sense. Akhand Bharat and all. We go all the way to Balochistan.

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          1. Yes thats what i said, Siddhivinayak/Shiridi is first and foremost made important by the locals (Long before Amitabh)before it became what it is today. There is nothing on the ground there in either of those places. I am pretty sure there is probably some other temple in Sindh which actually might have more hindu visitors/potential to become the Pakistan “hindu” tourist spot (i am being charitable here). The reason : there is a hindu sindhi population in numbers.

            You cannot create anything out of thin air, and no one is going to put his/her life on the line to visit that place. At least Katas Raj has accessibility/safety going for it.
            Please read the article below to understand how difficult/dangerous its for its own local population to visit Hingalaj.

            https://roadsandkingdoms.com/2016/a-hindu-pilgrimage-in-pakistan/

            Also now lets not get started on the whole bullshit called Akhand Bharat and all.

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        2. I still see the occasional cloth shop/small business invoking hinglaj either in its title or by the religious art on display. Quite sure these are not sindhis either. Needless to say, it becoming the new hot pilgrimage destination is hypothesised on a number of unlikely normalising concessions between the countries such as deepening the almost non-existent air connectivity between them. Not that these things won’t EVER happen, but no one’s holding their breath. Visiting pakistan as a hindu is not as nuts as some make it out to be.

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          1. Not quite. If ISI thinks it can get some mileage in sowing divisions in India by allowing some Hindus to some temples, they will jolly well do it. The bottom line and payoff of any policy is how much it can divide India and embarass it.

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