Pakistan, to India’s surprise, agreed to allow 5,000 pilgrims to visit every day, and 10,000 on special occasions.
Is India’s Kartarpur gambit running the danger of mimicking its earlier policy on Sri Lanka, where India let its domestic compulsions on Tamil Nadu fishermen being taken captive by Lankan authorities take precedence over its foreign policy imperative of preventing a Beijing stranglehold on Colombo? As the second round of talks ended, Delhi is patting itself on the back for getting Pakistan to take pro-Khalistan separatist Gopal Singh Chawala off the 10- member Pakistan Sikh Gurudwara Prabhandhak committee that he chaired, while pushing for visa free travel. Pakistan, to India’s surprise, agreed to allow 5,000 pilgrims to visit every day, and 10,000 on special occasions.
While Congress Chief Minister in Punjab, Capt. Amarinder Singh and the BJP at the Centre, allied to the Akali Dal, believe this is a sure-fire route to win Sikh votes, has Delhi asked what Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, egged on by military chief Gen. Qamar Bajwa, gains from facilitating visa free travel for Indian Sikhs. Is India, bent on tarring Pakistan with the terror brush, missing the wood for the trees? Surely, this is Pakistan shifting gears. Post Pulwama, Pakistan cannot employ terror in Kashmir on the same scale. But it can resurrect the Khalistan bogey to destabilise Punjab.
With India working to get the Financial Action Task Force to blacklist Pakistan and block an economic bail out, Islamabad distanced itself from terror chiefs, Masood Azhar of JeM, and Hafiz Saeed of LeT and JuD, behind every major terror attack on India including 26/11; the date, curiously, of the first round of talks. But with Islamabad, integral to U.S. President Trump's troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, and Imran Khan conferred with a White House invite, India must wonder what's next. Arm-twisting to hold talks with Pakistan?