Opening of Kartarpur corridor is just a gimmick, it will change nothing in Indo-Pak ties


The opening of the Kartarpur corridor from Dera Baba Nanak Saheb in Indian Punjab to Gurdwara Darbara Kartarpur Saheb inside Pakistan is being hailed with great hoopla, ecstasy and glee by many political leaders, media persons and others as the beginning of an era of good relations between India and Pakistan.

Many more such ‘faith corridors’ to go to dargahs, temples, mosques etc are being discussed. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that the corridor could act as a bridge between India and Pakistan and will be like bringing down the Berlin Wall.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan will lay the foundation stone of the corridor on 28 November, in a ceremony, which will be attended by two Indian government ministers and Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu.

I am sorry to pour cold water on such fanfare, rejoicing and revelry, but must I must speak the truth; and that is that the opening of the Kartarpur Saheb corridor will change nothing, and is only a gimmick.

Let me explain here!

If there are good relations between India and Pakistan, the very raison d’être of Pakistan will come to an end. Pakistan was created by the British on the basis of the two nation theory that Hindus and Muslims are two separate nations. That of course was a hoax and the theory on the face of it was bogus.

If religion is the basis of a nation, no nation can survive. For instance, UK has Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, etc. Also, there are many varieties of Protestants, e.g. Anglicans (in England) and Presbyterians (in Scotland) etc. So UK will have to be partitioned into a dozen or more countries, and so should the USA, France, Germany etc if we go by that theory.

So what was the real reason for the partition, which led to the creation of Pakistan? There were two real reasons :

(1) A united India would emerge as a powerful industrial giant, like the China of today, and that had to be prevented at all cost. This needs to be further explained. The cost of labour is a big chunk of the total cost of production, and so if cost of labour is less, the cost of production is less, and if cost of production is less one can sell at a cheaper price and undersell his business rival. There is competition in the market, and one businessman eliminates his business rival not by guns or bombs but by underselling him.

China set up a massive industrial base after its revolution in 1949, and this massive industrial base coupled with cheap labour available in China enabled the Chinese to undersell the whole world in the consumer goods sector. Thus, Western supermarkets are packed with Chinese goods, because Chinese products often sell at less than half the price at which the same product made by a manufacturer in Western countries can sell (because labour here is much costlier).

Now Indian labour is even cheaper than that of China and we are capable of even underselling the Chinese. So foreign countries, including China, do not want India to emerge as an industrial giant, because if that happens who will buy their goods?

But how to prevent India from emerging as an industrial giant? The best way is by making Indians (in which term I include Pakistanis) keep fighting each other on caste, religious, ethnic, lingual and regional basis. I suspect behind much of the religious, caste and ethnic strife in our sub-continent is the hand of foreigners (acting through their local agents).

(2) A massive armaments industry was created in most Western nations after the Second World War, and both India and Pakistan became two big markets for them. India is the biggest purchaser of arms in the world, and has spent billions of dollars buying weapons from foreign countries. So hostility between India and Pakistan, if not actual warfare, is essential for these arms manufacturers to keep selling their deadly products and earning huge profits.

One mustn’t forget that these poor countries waste their scant resources in buying arms, which otherwise would have gone for the welfare of the people. This is the real reason that there can never be good relations between India and Pakistan. So, those hailing the Kartarpur corridor are living in fool’s paradise. At best, the opening of the Kartarpur corridor can be termed a gimmick.

It is only when India and Pakistan along with Bangladesh reunite under a secular government with modern-minded leaders that we can really start the rapid industrialisation and advancements towards our goal of becoming a truly powerful industrial nation with our people enjoying a high standard of living. But that is a long way off.

(Justice Markandey Katju is a former Supreme Court judge and ex-chairman of Press Council of India. Views expressed here are the author’s own)