Journalist sees Imran as India’s ‘best bet’ in terms of bilateral progress

Published December 5, 2018
Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks at Kartarpur opening ceremony. — File photo
Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks at Kartarpur opening ceremony. — File photo

KARACHI: If there is to be incremental progress between India and Pakistan that have fought four wars, Prime Minister Imran Khan is presently “India’s best bet”, according to a Washington Post opinion piece written by Indian journalist Barkha Dutt.

On completion of 100 days in office and inauguration of the Kartarpur corridor, the premier had met a group of visiting Indian journalists in Islamabad.

“Imran Khan, Pakistan’s prime minister, seems transformed by the burden of his post. I met him in Islamabad on the day he completed his 100th day in office. He appeared so much more reserved, circumspect and formal than I remember him,” wrote Ms Dutt, who was among the 22 Indian journalists who had been invited to Pakistan (at the invitation of Khan’s government) to report on the opening of a visa-free corridor for Sikh pilgrims in the border village of Kartarpur.

“I came away with the impression that there is no chance for any immediate breakthrough for India and Pakistan,” she said. “But if there is to be even incremental progress between the two nuclear-armed nations that have fought four wars, Khan is presently India’s best bet,” the journalist added.

Referring to the opening of the corridor, she termed it to be a “joyous celebration of anti-imperialism”.

“A corridor for the free movement of pilgrims into Pakistan should have been a brief moment of reconciliation in a severely damaged relationship,” the report added.

Unfortunately, she regretted, controversial statements on both sides of the border led to a downward spiral. “In Pakistan, the Indian ministers likened opening the pilgrimage route to the fall of the Berlin Wall, while in Delhi, the foreign minister ruled out any resumption of dialogue.”

On Nov 28, Prime Minister Imran Khan performed the groundbreaking of 4km-long corridor which would connect Gurdwara Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur in Narowal with Dera Baba Nanak in India’s Gurdaspur district. The government had announced that it aimed to open the visa-free corridor on Baba Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary next year.

Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2018

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