Those lamenting that nothing significant has been accomplished by the PTI Government in the ridiculously short period of one hundred days, should now carry out a reality check - for one of the most momentous and daring steps in our politico-strategic history has been taken this week by the Prime Minister and his team.

Kartarpur is located in Tehsil Shakargarh, Narowal District of Pakistani Punjab. It lies approximately four kilometers from the Pakistan – India border and was the scene of fierce fighting during 1965 and 1971 Wars between the two neighbours. The town itself was established by Guru Nanak Dev around 1522 AD and is considered holy by Sikhs.  Kartarpur is also the location of Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, the first Gurdwara ever built and the place, where the revered Guru is believed to have breathed his last. Across the border and a few miles from it, lies Dera Baba Nanak, where Guru Nanak spent his last eighteen years. Reports indicate that Sikh pilgrims to the Gurdwara here, often climb to a vantage point and look towards Kartarpur with untold yearning and devotion.

Turning the idea of Kartarpur Corridor into reality is momentous not only because of its timing, but also the feelings it is likely to generate around the world, especially within followers of Guru Nanak. The new corridor will facilitate Sikhs living in India to cross over directly and visit this revered spot, without unnecessary hassle. Navjot Singh Sindhu (the celebrated Indian Cricketer, whose role in the Kartarpur Corridor is said to be focal) stole our hearts all over again by attending and speaking emotionally at the Foundation Stone laying ceremony, where Prime Minister Imran Khan was the Chief Guest. An invitation was also extended to the Indian External Affairs Minister Shushma Swaraj and the Chief Minister of Indian Punjab. The invites were shrugged off by both individuals in a typical display of Indian hostility, but sending a small government team from Punjab was nonetheless sent, as a face saving gesture.

Unable to digest the fact that Pakistan had successfully gained high moral ground through a genuine expression of love for the Sikh Community, the Indian Media went into an orgy of hate transmission, challenging Pakistani motives, thereby not only insulting its own Sikh citizens, but the followers of Guru Nanak all over the world. As far as Pakistan is concerned, it will go ahead with all speed to turn this dream into reality, no matter what Indian hate mongers might say or do.    

The bankruptcy of media across the border is nothing new. I remember listening to Indian Radio in the nineteen sixties, as tensions between the two countries began to rise. While Radio Pakistan kept its cool, as did the public, Akash Wani presenters began grinding their teeth and chewing their words in order to incite their domestic listeners. The culmination point of this campaign came, when at the beginning of the 1965 War, public sentiment was falsely raised to a jubilant frenzy, by showing footage of a double decker bus captured from the border check post at Wagah, as proof that Lahore had fallen.

We now see the same thing happening all over again – fomentation of hate by Indian hosts and anchors, whenever a bold step towards peace is taken by Pakistan or within India. Take for example the case, when Mr. Sindhu attended Imran Khan’s oath taking ceremony and shook hands with our Chief of Army Staff – something that warmed the cockles of my heart. On his return, this great sportsman and visionary was hounded by hatemongers. This leads one to the horrific notion that perhaps media across our Eastern border has been taken over by Hindu Extremism and has consequently shed its responsibilities. If the ‘taking over’ notion is flawed, then as a media person, I am justified to ask my counterparts across the border, if their liberty to report the truth objectively has been taken away by a radicalized government that does not believe in peace.      

 

The writer is a freelance columnist.