The Rare Proud Moment of the Kartarpura Corridor

Source: Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Dawn

Today is Gurpurab or the Birthday of Baba Gurunanak, the founder of the Sikh religion. On the occasion of his 550th birthday, Pakistan and India achieved something unprecedented and historic. The Kartarpura Corridor was opened to the Darbar Saheb Gurudwara from Amritsar. Prime Ministers of both the countries inaugurated their respective sides of the Corridor.

Source: Nighat Dad facebook

Source: Nighat Dad facebook

However, there is a shade of doubt behind the Kartarpura Corridor as well. The opposition is raising questions about the funding of the project, considering its efficient and speedy construction and completion within months. Many believe that the project comes directly from the Army Chief General Bajwa, whose interest in it makes more sense than that of Imran Khan. Others believe that Pakistani intelligence has pushed it to help encourage the Khalistan movement in Eastern Punjab.
Furthermore, leaders of progressive parties are also raising the issue that the farmers whose land has been withheld by the state for building the corridor and the temple complex infrastructure have still not been compensated. Opposition leaders are even asking the tough questions regarding the funding of the Kartarpura Corridor, let alone the idea of opening the border in Punjab when civil freedom in Kashmir has still not been restored ever since the passage of the revocation of Article 370.

There is little doubt that this project was instantly initiated and completed because the Pakistani military was behind it because such efficiency cannot be expected from the PTI administration. You also cannot expect the PTI administration to have the courage or imagination to launch such a huge infrastructure project. This is why it is unfortunate that such projects with India can only be initiated and realized when Pakistani generals push the idea. Otherwise, any civilian leader like Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, who also tried taking similar initiatives, were dubbed pro-Indian traitors by the deep state.
But is it a project initiated completely out of malice? And can Indians trust the Muslims of Western Punjab with their strangely newfound love for their Sikh brethren? These are not unreasonable questions to ask. At the same time, it is the kind of passion that only a Punjabi can understand. This project was completed out of the shared love and reverence of Baba Guru Nanak, who is revered by both Sikhs and Hindus and even Muslims. He is an undisputed saint, if not a manifestation of God. It is out of reverence for him that even Prime Minister Narendra Modi swallowed his pride and inaugurated the Indian wing of the Kartarpura Corridor in Eastern Punjab in the presence of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
With all its misgivings and flaws, and perhaps even the evil intentions of the Pakistani military establishment, Kartarpura Corridor is worth it. It has made possible for Western Punjab to celebrate a Punjabi religion in the 74 years of its post-partition history, or in my living memory at least. It is also evident by the Government of Pakistan taking initiative to mint commemorative coins on the 550th Birthday of Guru Nanak Dev. These words from Indian cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu perfectly elaborate it, eulogizing his friend Imran Khan for making history with this huge step.

The memories of United India are still etched somewhere on our DNA. Those forgotten moments come to life again with Kartarpura Corridor. No words can describe what seeing our own pilgrims returning home feels like. I never thought this would make me emotional but it did. Perhaps we could never appreciate what it means to be together until we are separated. Muslims and Sikhs massacred each other for a partition based on faith and are today embracing each other for the same faith. It is surreal.
The Kartarpura Corridor only reminds us of the sheer disaster that was the partition of Punjab, and the partition of India in general. When we see Punjabi brothers and sisters from both sides of the borders embracing each other, we realize what our shortsighted forefathers have taken away from us out of their bigotry and insecurities.

They have taken away from us that little India that existed in every town and village in United India. They have taken away our Sikh and Hindu brothers and sisters in our neighborhood. They have taken away our shared celebrations of Eid, Diwali, Holi, Dussehra, Vaisakhi, and Gurpurab. And it simply cannot be put back together even if we unite Punjab and India again. It is a venom that even Shiv’s throat cannot hold.

It is the kind of hate that even God cannot contain, let alone undo.

India-Pakistan Conflict: Boycott the Boycott

Source: Dawn

Source: Dawn

Ah, the season of war is back. Time to deal with completely needless inconveniences because of the bloated egos of the leaderships of the two countries, if you are unfortunate enough to live in one of them.

War hysteria is at an all-time high in recent years in India, especially fueled by the Fuhrer and the warmongering media. Similar roles have been taken up by the military leadership on this side as well as warmongering news anchors on warmongering channels.

In the wake of the national mood, the association of Indian film producers considered it necessary to take action against Pakistani artists from appearing in Indian films. This tells us a lot about the Indian film producers and their version of patriotism.

Now India has been known to do this before and considering that it was not always exactly a fan of free trade and has even had some love for trade protectionism in the past, old habits creeping into the new Indian age of economic freedom is not a surprise.

But what is even worse is that the Pakistani film distributors and theater owners felt the need to emulate the Indian version of patriotism. They have responded by taking off Indian films from Pakistani theaters. I know Pakistanis have been at it before, but is this really the right way to act? Even PEMRA is pressing to eliminate Indian television content in Pakistan and to suspend the guilty TV channels. This is completely nonsensical, especially in the age of the internet.

Regardless of the quality of Indian films, it is a well-known fact that these productions are awfully popular in Pakistan. Has our hate for India really exceeded the love of the free market and freedom of access?

Why do we have to punish the local consumer to make a point about nothing to the Indian producers or the government of India?

And if we say that India started it, then why do we have to act in kind? Are we trying to harm India or our local consumer?

While a good number of both Indian artists and public are maintaining their sanity, sadly their public debate is dominated by people who are inciting an emotional reaction. Likewise, there is no shortage of such idiots on this side of the border.

However, it is easy to see that the India-Pakistan conflict has been reduced to the words and actions of brawling, irresponsible, and mentally impaired high school bullies who don’t know any better but to resort to juvenile antics to score cheap points.

As two of the largest nations of the world, the people must pause and reflect. Have we really lost our minds? Is this who we really are?

Well, apparently. Because it seems like we have been waiting for an opportunity to pounce on each other for quite a while. But in all fairness, you cannot blame the hysteria among the people. The political and military leadership, in both India and Pakistan, need to get their heads examined.

With Pakistan threatening nuclear warfare and India threatening to block Pakistan’s water supply, it is clear that the welfare of the common people is the last thing on their minds. Just imagine countries issuing such threats lecturing others on terrorism.

The ban on the art from across the border by private entities, who we very well know are pressured by government authorities and public opinion shaped by propaganda, are also reflective of the disregard of the public opinion. The regulatory authorities and film business bodies on both sides have only shown how much they regard the audiences. Shameful to say the least.

So should we move ahead likewise and boycott these film producers and theater owners as well? I guess not because that is not who we are, even if their terrible business sense makes them a deserving party.

Let us not respond to a boycott with a boycott.

Let us not respond to a ban with a ban.

If some business entities and government in India have decided to punish their people, why should we react to punish ours?

Pakistan had embraced the free market way earlier in its history than India and must keep that tradition alive. At least the Pakistani people remain very libertarian and pro-free market when it comes to their freedom of access, and will remain so despite the government bans.

The government should get out of their way when it comes to ridiculous regulations. Or the citizens know very well how to go out of their way to get around them.

And let’s face it, many people in Pakistan love Indian movies. So let them watch in peace.

When it comes to the India-Pakistan conflict, let’s boycott the boycott.

The post was originally published in The Nation blogs.

What the Recurrent Gaza Conflict Brings Out in People



The periodic, recurrent, Gaza crisis which is bound to happen every few months for certain reasons, brings out a lot of things in different people.

It brings out the compassion and mercy in hearts and souls around the world for people suffering in the prison-like cities of Gaza.

It brings out the Nazi in most Pakistani nationalist conservatives, some of the more educated of which would claim they do not hate Jews but would chant “Death to Israel” in the same breath.

It brings out the hideously antisemitic internet memes attributing antisemitic quotes to their führer Adolf Hitler, that would make you wonder if Nazism is dead.



But Pakistan suffers from antisemitism in the true technical sense of the word, because other than the major chunk for the Jews, the rest of it is directed at the Arabs out of political disapproval. Especially for their hedonistic inaction on Palestine.

And not to forget, the Iran backed terrorists are not so dangerous.

It takes out the most nauseating moralists in just about anyone, from nationalist conservatives to anti-establishment liberals, who would twist logic in whatever form as they deem necessary to fit their worldview.

It brings out the usual twisted logic among liberals that you get to hear from time to time that conditions the righteousness of outrage to preference of wrongdoings in the order of immediate geographical proximity.

It also brings out the good old emotional blackmail in the overzealous political activist. One who would stop at nothing to hurl abuses at their target audience for watching football, and even worse, inventing non-existing obligations, in order to milk action.

Action for nothing.

Source: The News

Source: The News

It brings out the completely unreasonable policymakers in the Pakistan Foreign Office.

The policymakers who would very rightly condemn the Israeli brutality, but would never utter a word about the Hamas rocket strikes. Now this point is absolutely relevant because it defines your diplomacy toward the belligerent parties.

How can people possibly support terrorist groups over a legitimate state and the only democracy in the Middle East? If you ignore the growing intolerance at home thanks to the artificially created demographic.


Source: Times of Israel

It brings out the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a formidable wartime leader to his potential voters who easily comes across a war criminal to most people watching the Gaza operation on TV.

It brings out the illusion of defiant war heroes in the de facto Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Meshal, whose authority is doing hardly anything but jeopardizing the life and peace of their captive subjects.

It brings out the Israeli Defense Forces as vigilant publicists reaching out to the world meticulously chronicling the incoming rockets and highlighting Hamas war crimes of using civilians as a shield for their weapons.

It also brings out the Western progressive and radical left critics of Israel to abandon their usual devotion to political correctness and equate Zionism with Nazism.

It at least brings out the best of propagandists out of anyone commenting on this complicated conflict.

In the end, you would feel that the criticism of Israel is absolutely justified, as always and the criticism of such critics is pretty foolish. Especially considering the completely cynical disregard to the peace process ever since Bibi Netanyahu took office.

Still, it is encouraging that the Israelis are reportedly warning citizens before attacks. But many wonder if it is of any use.

Where are they to go in that desert of misery and despair?

But to my mind, the responsibility on Hamas is just too incredibly great.

It all comes down to how much you are going to put up with a next door terrorist regime which is hell-bent to jeopardize your peace continuously. Leaving them no option but to go on and act without mercy.

Still you would ask why does not Israel simply flatten out Gaza City with bombs? Or why does it refrain from making such attacks in the West Bank?

The Hamas armed resistance would otherwise be respectable, but to my mind, saving every life in their given situation should be a priority. Which does not seem to be a priority of any party at the moment.

Gaza right now is Hell on Earth.

Sadly, you can’t do much worrying about a government who are content on making it even worse for themselves.

Somehow you hope that the current operation will bring the violence to an end for good.

The Dangers of Ideologies

Source: Reuters/MSNBC

If there is one word that could be used to sum up machines building prejudices, it is ideology. I don’t want to make the argument in this phrase sound like a sweeping judgmental statement like the ones particularly condemning religion in our times, but yes, a part of that is a part of it. This does not necessarily mean that ideology is a bad thing. All I want to say here is that it can be counterproductive at times, and particularly dangerous when it interferes with logical and mathematical reasoning, especially when it fuels and/or builds prejudices.

Ideology is important to most people. It is actually important and indispensable to most people. I am not against having that sort of a broad outlook to life and existence. It can prove healthy, yet unhealthy at the same time, as a lot of things which are meant to be healthy-for-the-mind go. It all comes down to application but the problem is that people choose to take their beliefs a bit too far to be able to reconcile them with the contradictory facts or reason that they may encounter. While it would be incorrect and absolutist of anyone to assert that ideology is the root of all evil, which it clearly is not as evil predates all such products of evil mistaken to be its sources, it can still create quite a bit of trouble.

While the problem is almost natural to occur, I somehow find it disturbing to how it divides people. Still I would not act like an ideologue by asserting that ideologies are the absolute source of evil, even though I know that there is a part of me that is irrational and that also believes in an ideology. However, if you are reasonable, it does not really matter. It is this being reasonable part which I want to see, because being unreasonable is simply the greatest problem under discussion in this context.

Yes, indeed, it is ideology that prevents you from accepting what others have to offer you in good reason. But not everyone is like that, though not everyone is like that at one point of time, and not unlike that at another. We tend to forget, or not know about it as if we never had it in mind at all and many give in to the domination of ideology if latter is the case. But in any case and at any rate, this surely causes a lot of trouble and un-productivity, unnecessary arguments, killed time that could rather be spent masturbating and illegible and meaningless ink stains on wasted paper that could have actually been a thousand trees injecting oxygen into our suffocating airspace.

Does it require any mention that in more of uncivilized and relatively irrational societies, ideologies can potentially and do cause a lot of bloodshed, in which those people indulge who hardly understand what they believe in? And in civilized and almost rational societies, in which scholars would conveniently contradict their own principles as long as they do not contradict with the mutated baton of bigotry passed on from one ideological fallacy to the other. The greatest thing is that it goes unnoticed by you when you are at it, only spotted by ideologues waiting for something to pounce on or by idiots like the writer of these lines, using it for writing lines like these.

Not every ideology may be reasonable but reason is employed to create each and every one. Not every ideology will bring happiness because somehow life has its own mechanism to run things that probably no such idea can encompass. You need a way to live your life, something to believe in before you give in to despair, but beware lest you become so blindly loyal to your ideology that you start bringing harm to your fellow beings and not even realize when a word of sense and reason is being spoken to you. I call it the bureaucratization of reason.

However, let us not spoil our evening with bitter realism and let us pretend that our ideologies steer us to a happy ending, as in Giaochinno Rossini‘s La Gazza Ladra, the composer whose 220th birthday is today. Because there is a good chance that ideology will defeat reason again.

A Country of 106 Provinces

Original File Source: Wikipedia

This is not a satirical post.

These days, everybody wants their own province in Pakistan. And why not? Everyone wants to have a say. It is perfectly democratic and with the introduction and passage of the 18th Amendment to the 1973 Constitution, the existing Pakistani provinces are enjoying quite a bit of “control” over things. Nevertheless, a particular provision in that amendment about a rather obnoxious name of a particular province has also triggered a (not much of a) debate over the creation of a new province, joining the longstanding demand of a new province in the Southern Punjab. Even better.

While the legislature of Pakistan is shortly expected to propose recommendations for the creation of new provinces, consensus on the issue, as with most issues in Pakistan, has not been reached. Some people are wondering, and so is my observation,  why people in Pakistan have to think with such an ethnic-centered approach. Let us not consider it a moral question or even a matter of principle, because the rationale for creating new provinces is better administration, the rights of people in certain parts of the country, decentralization and the delegation of authority to smaller administrative units. What does that have to do with ethnic groups?

This actually turns the attention of an observer to a rather harsh reality. Pakistan has been very severely ethnically polarized. Pakistan is actually a state with several belligerent ethnic nations who would do whatever is in their power to tear each other apart. Though thankfully, most of them do not have the means to do so, other than politics. Due to the irregular distribution of power and a highly centralized autocratic government in the country over many decades, these feelings have grown even worse. But getting back to the issue of the new provinces.

The questions to ask are these.

Will Pakistan find more reasons to be divided with the new provinces or will that prove useful to the unity of the state?

Will creating new provinces cut down costs?

The answer to the first question is important but no one really knows it. The second question can only be answered with an emphatic no. With additional governors, chief ministers, cabinets and God knows what, costs are only bound to rise with the current unreformed parliamentary system, which can be a great blow to the state with its economy on a lifeline and with a deficit in budget and declining current account balance and growth rate.

However, I have a very good solution to both the problems of conflict between different ethnic groups in the country and to the increasing costs without sacrificing decentralization and the delegation of power to smaller administrative units, away from an autocratic center. Each district of Pakistan should be declared a province, or call it a district if you will. What this apparently insane idea means is that the districts should be delegated their own budget with their own governors and the privileges of these officials should be no greater than that of the mayor of a city or whosoever is considered the head of the local legislature.

A Country of 106 Provinces.

It is an unorthodox idea, particularly to those who blindly believe in Westminster Parliamentary System of the Commonwealth of Nations, but don’t tell me that it is not workable.

If taking such measures is unnecessary for the prevalence of goodwill in the country and for reducing ethnic polarization, then so are the provisions taken in the constitutional amendments in the recent years that promote decentralization.

Why Peace in the Middle East is Becoming Next to Impossible?

So what or who offers a hope amid the darkness? Maybe Tzipi Livni? Who knows?

Is Peace in the Middle East possible?

These 13 minutes and 6 seconds will reveal a lot more than what any comment possibly could. But you really have to Thank God that you are not a Palestinian living in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, unless you are one.

An Excerpt from 60 Minutes from CBS News

Video Courtesy: Michael Moore’s YouTube Channel , CBS News

Don’t Hate People Because They Disagreed

Are you one of those people who reject everything said by the people they don’t like, just because of their opinion about them?

Our emotions, and even more importantly, our prejudices can badly affect our reasoning. In fact, our negative emotions and prejudices themselves become our reasoning while dealing with people or matters which can trigger their appearance. People representing conflicting political viewpoints are a good example of that.

Prejudices are not something to feel guilty about. Everyone has prejudices and nobody is an exception. Prejudice of the race can be the most instinctive of all prejudices, because of the immediate realization of a physical difference.

Although as citizens of the global village, we may have overcome prejudices of race and ethnicity, but they stand as strongly today as they did ever since humans first came to realize it. Everyone has this prejudice even in the modern world, although it largely goes unspoken, showing its face from time to time. Prejudice against gender is also an important factor.

Then come more sophisticated types of prejudices, such as against religion, country and political orientation. Although all three of these factors can easily be integrated into political prejudice. Our civilized minds have given rise to these entities, and have only offered ourselves new reasons to hate each other.

Prejudices have always been there, and they will always remain to be there if the masses of the world continue with the same kind of upbringing that they had been subjected to. But how can we overcome prejudices is the question.

You can overcome prejudices with education and tolerance. And when I say education, it certainly does not just mean academic degrees and several years in college. Some of the most academically decorated people who I knew of were the most prejudiced ones, coincidentally.

This, by no means, suggests that academic or formal education is not important and must not be pursued, but the point to understand is to recognize the difference between being educated and being literate.

Education tells you of the evils of violence and of the advantages of tolerance. Education can make you a tolerant person, and a tolerant person can curb his or her prejudices more easily than an uneducated and violent one.

Therefore, you can suppress your prejudices through education, as you cannot destroy them from your unconscious.

Largely, the way we are brought up is responsible for deep-rooted hatred and prejudices. Only if you are able to educate yourself can you be able to get rid of your childhood prejudices imprinted on your minds by your environment, most importantly, by your parents and teachers.

It is prejudices like these which can be a hindrance to the common understanding of the importance of peace and the willingness towards it between the conflicting parties. Countries like India and Pakistan, Israel and Palestine, USA and Iran and many other examples like these can illustrate how prejudices can easily come into play as a hurdle to peace.

Children of one conflicting party are brought up being taught by their elders to hate the other conflicting party, and when I say hate, I literally mean hate. Just like hatred was used by the Catholic Church as a tool during the Crusades, and as it is used by Islamic extremists for terrorism.

Even if you want to be realistic to teach the young ones of the possible dangers from a potential “enemy”, then you can warn him or her of the possibility, while strictly discouraging any feeling of hatred. History should be learned as objectively and scientifically as possible.

An educated person knows about the importance of life. And as soon as you realize what being alive means and that you have no right to take the life of another, you immediately come to realize that you should abstain from violence and that you should respect every living being, not only your fellow beings, humans.

This realization will help you to understand that there are humans, and more importantly, living beings, with the same feelings as you, on the other side of the conflict. And that they may be having ideas as valid and reasonable as you, if only you chose to consider them for a while, and tolerate them. Believe me, if you do consider them for a while, you will be able to tolerate them.

Abraham Lincoln once said, ” I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.”

This is what overcoming a prejudice or hatred is all about.

You  should not change your mind about people just because of political changes.

You should not hate someone just because they disagreed. What if they were right?