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The Opening of Kartarpur Corridor

The Opening of Kartarpur Corridor

Can India and Pakistan bring down their ‘Berlin Wall’?

On November 28, Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, performed the ground-breaking of the four-kilometre-long Kartarpur Corridor. In his address at the ceremony, PM Khan said both the countries cannot move forward without breaking the chains of the past. He cited the examples of France and Germany, the European countries that have been bitter rivals for long and have also fought many wars. “If France and Germany can move ahead while making a union, why can’t we… the Pakistan Army, national institutions and political parties are on the same page, we want to move ahead, we want a civilised relationship, only a leadership with determination is needed on both sides of the border to solve the issues,” he said. He added that millions of people lost lives in wars between France and Germany but today they have opened borders, they could not even think of going for a war now keeping in view their connections of business and investment.

Amid the friction prevailing between South Asian neighbours India and Pakistan, the launching of the Kartarpur Corridor is nothing less than a paradigm shift for this region. Considering that both countries do not get along most of the time, the breakthrough is no less than a miracle. Performing the ground-breaking ceremony, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan called it the ‘corridor of peace’ and urged both countries to ‘move forward and break their chains with the past,’ following the example of France and Germany who fought many wars but have amicable relations today.

Certainly, after centuries of hostility and armed conflicts, France and Germany, the two major powers of Europe, are at peace and their mending of fences is central to the success of the EU. Whereas India and Pakistan, since their emergence as new states in August 1947, have been living as hostile and belligerent neighbours; resulting in the rupture of Saarc and marginalisation of South Asia in the realm of global power dynamics.

If France and Germany were able to mend fences in the historic 1963 Franco-German Treaty of Peace and Cooperation, India and Pakistan are bogged down on issues which since 1947 till today are responsible for vitiating their past, jeopardising their present and putting a question mark on their future.

There is no harm in imagining and visualising things but one needs to consider ground realities which militate against seeking relevance of Franco-German model for Indo-Pak peace.

Three contradictions exist when one tries to apply the model in the context of India and Pakistan. First, the absence of a leadership like French president Charles de Gaulle and West German chancellor Kurt Adenauer who acted as a catalyst in making history by signing the historic Franco-German Treaty of Peace and Cooperation in 1963. The Gordian knot in the centuries-old animosity and hostility between the two neighbuors was cut because of the leadership of France and Germany which decided not to carry historical baggage to their future generations.

Unfortunately, in case of India and Pakistan, visionary personalities are missing as the leadership of the two countries since 1947 never seriously tried to mend fences and peacefully resolve issues responsible for the outbreak of wars and armed conflicts that have resulted in the deepening of poverty as well as social and economic backwardness. Second, France and Germany created institutions to strengthen the process of reconciliation at the governmental and non-governmental level. For instance, the Office of Commissioner for Franco-German Cooperation was established for coordinating political relations between France and Germany and to promote societal exchange of the two countries. France and Germany also established Franco-German Council of Ministers on the occasion of 40th anniversary of Elysee Treaty on January 22, 2003, for working on joint projects. Furthermore, at the summit meetings, which took place between the governments of France and Germany at Potsdam in July 2005 and Berlin in March 2006, the two sides agreed to a more structured collaboration through joint laboratories for research in biology and information technology.

Read More: Streamlining Pakistan-India Relationship

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