Readers may recall I had written two blogs on Navjot Singh Sidhu and Imran's Tehrik-e-Insaf party. In the first blog on Imran's India approach, I had claimed that I do not want to chest thump as it is not my ilk. Hence, let me assure the readers that this still is not an attempt at chest thumping. But no doubt, my concerns expressed in these columns have come true, and unfortunately on a much higher scale. Let us see how.
The Kartarpur ground-breaking ceremony at the Pakistani side presided over by Imran Khan has been used as an event to snide at India. Not just is it being used as a PR exercise by the committed Pakistani media, which laps up and hypes any such story which is affronting India. This reflects their anti-India orientation.
Sidhu ignores the true face of Pakistan
Now, I will relate to what I had written a few months ago and what had really happened. I had clearly recalled the reaffirmation by Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, of India being Pakistan's biggest enemy. Sidhu had 'jhappied' him during the swearing in of Imran Khan.
Sidhu was again present at the ground-breaking ceremony of the Kartarpur event. I do not believe he self-invited himself. Overtly, the Ministry of Religious Affairs of Pakistan was the organizer for the event. But Indian security experts are well aware of the tight leash the Army and ISI have over the Pakistan government. This is more so in matters relating to Pakistan's India policy. How could Sidhu miss this.
History replete with events
What is more relevant here is that the same Pakistani Army and ISI have umbilical relations which jihadi groups and their leaders, like Hafeez Saeed, Syed Salahuddin and Masood Azhar. It is these non-state actors who are mandated to foment trouble in India and engage with troublemakers in India or to Indian interests, like the Khalistani groups like Babbar Khalsa International, Khalistan Commando Force, Khalistan Liberation Front, etc.
As part of the Ministry of Home Affairs, I handled the official delegation of pilgrims to Sikh places of worship in Pakistan four times a year. In this year's Nankana Sahib pilgrimage, the Indian High Commissioner was not permitted to meet the Indian pilgrims at Nankana Sahib. We had reports that apart from the official delegation of pilgrims, the High Commission of Pakistan was also cultivating some persons who would be issued visas to visit and they would go on personal visit on these occasions, which is an expensive proposition. It is not known who financed their visits.
Imran Khan does not have a role in the peace process
Besides these undercurrents, what is more salient is to expect that Imran Khan would change all that is putting the cart before the horse and asking it to be driven. His political antecedents have been explained in detail in my earlier column. Hence, Sidhu's blabbering that Kartarpur opening is a step towards peace is not just an illusion but smacks of either guile or stupidity.
Invitation to Sidhu
In my earlier blog also I had stated the it was a ploy of Pakistani establishment to extend an invitation to Sidhu. Now, this further invitation to the Kartarpur ground-breaking event is salting the wound further.
Added to this is the seating offered to Sidhu and the photo ops. He is founding 'jhappying' with Gopal Singh Chawla, a known anti-India activist and close aide of Hafeez Saeed, the author of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. Ironically, all this happened on the day 28/11. Ten years back on this day, we in the Home Ministry were counting the dead. I could not digest it, and felt affronted.
Encomiums for Sidhu but no response from him
This is taken further by Imran Khan's statement that Sidhu can win an election if he contests from Pakistan. Sidhu should have reacted to this immediately that he is an Indian national and the only way I can contest an election here is when India annexes Pakistan. If not in such strong words he could have retorted in an softer tone.
Sidhu was heaping more praises on Imran Khan than he has ever done on any Indian Prime Minister. So, what is Sidhu's scale of measurement? Leadership of a failed nation going around with a begging bowl is more effective than the leader of the world's fifth largest economy? Sidhu needs to answer this.
Some Questions for Sidhu
Prays for Imran, but not for our PM
Sidhu also spoke in his eloquent speech in Punjabi that when he does ardas (prayers) twice a day he prays for longevity of Imran Khan. He never said this in any manner when the conspiracy to assassinate our democratically elected Prime Minister was unearthed. Prima facie, the plot may have been attributable to left wing extremism, but security experts in the country are well aware about the convergence of source of left wing extremism, separatism in Kashmir, insurgent groups in the Northeast, ISI sleeper cells and other unholy designs against India.
Drugs in Punjab
The entire state of Punjab is afflicted by drug addiction problems amongst youth for years. Again, many security experts do know that and can relate that increased cultivation and higher harvest of opium on the AfPak border in Pakistani territory was one of the factors for this menace. Sidhu, it is your home state which was affected. You are a people's representative there.
Did you use your good offices and good relations with Imran to once ask the Pakistani establishment to strengthen the Memorandum of Understanding between the Narcotics Control Bureau of India and Anti-Narcotics Force of Pakistan? It is your constituents who were most adversely affected, so at least this is an issue you should have flagged with your friend Imran Khan.
Sidhu, you are very popular on comedy shows. Surely, they are shot in the city of Mumbai. You must be frequenting the city very often. Are you aware that an inhabitant of this city, from where you make tonnes of money, is languishing in a Pakistani jail on false charges of espionage? Let me remind you, Sidhu, that his name is Kulbhushan Jadhav. Did you speak a single word for him? Rather, go to Kot Lakhpat Jail in Rawalkot and find for yourself the number of Sarabjits rotting for inadvertently crossing the border into Pakistan and arrested on false espionage charges. Seek their release.
Sidhu, in the same Mumbai, a person running a crime syndicate later was found to be perpetrator of 1993 blasts in Mumbai. Let me remind you that his name is Dawood Ibrahim. We have given documents in sheaves about his being a fugitive from Indian law, and the need to bring him to trial. We have repeatedly pointed out that he lives in Clifton Area of Defence Colony in Karachi. Why did you not use your 'jhappi' to get him back to India? Your co-traveller, Mr HS Puri, has a lot of information on this fugitive. Mr Puri has also served as India's Permanent Representative at the UN, which has declared Dawood Ibrahim a terrorist entity. I am sure you have not even sought to learn about this issue from Mr Puri.
Should have followed protocols for national prestige
With these questions in front of Sidhu, he also needs to chastised on what he should have spoken. First thing, you had a personal invitation and not an official one, and you don't consider Pakistan as an enemy, but Pakistani's treat your country as a biggest enemy. Please recall the statement of your 'jhappi' friend, Gen Bajwa, which I have recalled above.
Hence, it was in fitness of things that you should have conveyed the official delegation to overwhelm our participation. But for seeking personal glory or playing a stage-managed show, which is your special core competence going by your participation in a comedy show, you played to the gallery. The official Indian delegation was not just overshadowed but insulted. They are sent by the Government of India. One of the delegates was an ex-diplomat with rich experience and exposure and regarded as one of the finest diplomats of his time. At least if not ceded to him you could have heeded to him. He would saved you from causing blushes for the country.
Sidhu owes an apology to the nation. His claim as messenger of peace is specious, and if he is a true patriot he should apologize. Or else, I leave it to the readers guess as to what his true colours are and where his loyalties lie?
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL.)