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IT may appear a farfetched thought at the moment. But small steps such as the reopening of Kartarpur Corridor may, in the larger context, considerably help ease the rocky Pakistan-India relations.
Analysts have often maintained that if ‘soft’ issues are dealt with wisely, the more complex challenges that have beset the nations of the subcontinent may also be amicably resolved. The recent release of Indian fishermen prisoners by Pakistan is a case in point. Other positive but minor steps include religious visits; advocates of peace in both India and Pakistan have reiterated that pilgrimages to holy sites in India and Pakistan should be facilitated.
Indeed, the reopening of the Kartarpur Corridor is a welcome development. The renovation and opening of gurdwara was a move that was applauded by Sikhs across the world, including in India; the opening ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Imran Khan as well as former Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh. Nevertheless, the visa-free corridor facility was suspended last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now that the Indian side has announced the reopening, one can hope that Sikh pilgrims will be able to visit the holy site without any obstacles.
Needless to say, matters in the subcontinent—particularly involving bilateral peace—move at a snail’s pace, and it sounds unrealistic to expect unprecedented developments like the Kartarpur reopening.
Also, the fact remains that there’s huge mistrust between Islamabad and Delhi, stoked by the Modi government’s anti-Muslim stance, not least the disturbing situation that has prevailed in India-held Kashmir for over two years now.
Nevertheless, dialogue is the only way forward, and as stated here, working on soft issues may lead to more significant talks in the future.