Pulwama suicide attack by the terrorist outfit Jaish-e-Muhammad in the Northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir bordering Pakistan that killed 40 CRPF personnel has created a political whirlwind in Punjab with cricketer turned politician Navjot Singh Sidhu at the epicentre of this storm.
Earlier Sidhu’s visit to Pakistan for the swearing in ceremony of Imran Khan also came under scanner when photographs of flamboyant cabinet minister and Pakistan Army Chief General Bajwa hugging each other flashed on national media. At that time Sidhu shielded himself mentioning about the discussions that took place to open Kartarpur corridor, which has been a long standing demand of the Sikh community since independence.
Sidhu’s stand to visit Pakistan by overruling Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s advice got vindicated when the Pakistan government announced to open up the said corridor and New Delhi reciprocated by laying the foundation stone of the said corridor. By this positive gesture, Sidhu accumulated political capital in this Sikh majority state and hence began the inter and intra party power tussle.
Sidhu is once again found making the headlines post his comments on Pulwama terror attack. Sidhu came under attack after the Pulwama suicide bombing when he, instead of the Pak establishment, blamed the so called ‘non-state actors’ for the Pulwama suicide blast and advocated talks with the Pakistan.This happened even after Moulana Massod Azhar, who enjoys political patronage by the Pak establishment took responsibility of the deadly blast. The ‘non-state actor’ theory that Sidhu is flaunting for the so called acquittal of Imran Khan is always conveniently propounded by Pakistan establishment. Moreover Sidhu’s viewpoint was also in contrast with that of his Chief Minister who took a hawkish stand on the issue in sync with the central govt in New Delhi and national sentiments. The two main political parties of Punjab i.e AAP and SAD are also critical of Sidhu’s stand albeit different reasons.
It is here that Sidhu went wrong:The love-hate relationship between India and Pakistan and also terrorism cannot be understood by personal equations and rapports of politicians of either side. Foreign policy riddles and concerns cannot be solved on the basis of friendship made on sports fields, university campuses and through press.It has to be understood in broader historical,political, geographical and geopolitical context. The innocent Indian political mind has always tried to solve these geopolitical riddles based on personal equations right from Nehru to Modi via Gujral and Vajpayee.The warm relationships between nations based on personal relationships of politicians will always be temporary, short-lived and elusive.
In this part of the continent, terrorism is also to be understood as a tool being used in the power tussle triangle of India-Pak-China and anxieties related to Afganistan.
Although terrorism is the legacy of the Cold War Era and it is the left behind of the monster created by America used to disturb the Russian forces in Afghanistan but now it is being used and emboldened for geopolitical goals.
The occasional emotional outbursts of the trans-border ethnicities in between nations that share cross border religious,cultural and linguistic affinities with each other will always be a challenge for the nations.
So there will be more such occasions by Pakistan or China in the future to exploit the fault lines based on religion,caste,ethnicity or language in our society. We have to be cautious in this regard, especially the politicians of this border state of ours. The idea of India-a nation state- is based not on any particular ethnicity,religion,language or caste but secularism is the key for a strong and vibrant India that is Bharat.
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