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Editorial: Kartarpur corridor VS Durand Line

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan Wednesday formally laid foundation stone of Kartarpur corridor construction/establishment, which will be another international level border point between Pakistan and India. Both the neighbouring countries are considered each other’s erstwhile enemies and construction of a new corridor raises many questions. On one side Indian central government has denied its presence in the foundation ceremony whereas on the other Pakhtoon nationalist leaders have welcomed the project with certain conditions, asking for similar facilities for Pakhtoons who like of Pak India borders also made disintegrated by British enforced Durand Line. The crossing point will bring back close the Kartarpur area of District Narowal of Pakistan with Dera Baba Nanak in India’s Gurdaspur district. Both the regions are known for sheltering/residences of Baba Guru Nanak and on such grounds Pakistani authorities justify the project by saying it will make easy travelling/visits of people from Sikh community belong to both the countries. Formal proposal regarding construction of  the corridor was floated somewhere in 1998 when deposed Prime Minister Nawaaz Sharif was governing the country. But later Pakistani authorities, especially military rulers and their loyals were reluctant to implement the ideas. Most recently when cricketer turned politician Imran Khan won 2018 general elections and had assumed the office of Prime Minister, enabled to materialize the long awaited project. But he in these initiatives is enjoying support of armed forces. Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa has himself attended the foundation laying stone of the project, which confirms complete support of armed forces with Premier Imran Khan in the project. But along with inauguration of the project, nationalist Awami National Party chief Asfandyar Wali Khan has welcomed the corridor establishment with India but said that similar formula may be adopted also with Afghanistan. According to Asfandyar, late Premier Benazir Bhutto and deposed Prime Minister Nawaaz Sharif also deserve credit as they also made hectic efforts for its opening and construction. Like Sikhs or Punjabis, Pakhtoons are also made disintegrated by British rulers demarcated Durand Line in 1893. At the time of Durand Line demarcation Afghanistan was also a colony of British rulers and they have forced/deceived the then Afghan king for signing of the Durand Agreement, which never recognized by Afghans. Even the colonial rulers have promised repealing of the Durand Line on completion of its 100 years. But at the time of 100 years completion, Afghanistan was lacking centralized authority and ahead with imposed wars and hostilities. From last several years, one against Pakistan is engaged in one side acts of fencing of the Durand Line with maximum financial and technical support from United States, thus making uncertain not only the Afghans but also those Pakhtoon Afghans residing in Pakistan. Nationalist politicians from Pakistan like Asfandyar Wali Khan, Mahmood Khan Achakzai, Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao and others are opposing growing hostilities between Kabul and Islamabad. They since a long urging Islamabad to revisit its hostilities and enmity based policies towards Afghanistan. On such grounds, they are unhappy with one side act of fencing the Durand Line. Asfandyar Wali Khan, his party’s Secretary General Mian Iftikhar Hussain and others while welcoming the Kartarpur project also pleaded for opening of maximum corridors and crossing points with Afghanistan, which might be helpful in strengthening of bilateral relations between the two countries. Ironic to mention despite Pakistan’s frequent requests, India central government leaders have refused to attend the foundation laying stone ceremony of Kartarpur project, which according to India’s ex-cricket Start Najoot Singh Sidhu would link Kabul and New Delhi with each others in near future.

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