Insensitive to Kartarpur breakthrough and Islamabad’s renewed offer of peace talks to New Delhi with all Pakistani institutions, including army, on same page for ‘civilized relationship’ with India, along with desire of the people of both countries to forge closer ties with each other, India has again dug in heels over talks. Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj says PM Modi won’t attend SAARC summit in Pakistan as Pakistan first needs to address ‘terrorism’ if it wants bilateral talks with India. Indian Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh also declined to attend the event a day after Indian Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj had announced that her two colleagues would attend the groundbreaking ceremony in her place. It is really surprising while Indian ministers i.e. Sushma Swaraj’s colleagues Indian Minister for Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs Shri Hardeep Singh Puri representing the Indian government at the event made emotional speeches on the occasion of groundbreaking ceremony of Kartarpur corridor saying if Berlin Wall can crumble, then so can ‘wall of hatred between India and Pakistan’; the Indian foreign minister turned down Pakistan’s invitation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to attend the SAARC summit, saying the “bilateral talks are linked with curbing terrorism, not Kartarpur corridor” though she appreciated the decision to open the corridor. On the other hand, India’s army Chief General Bipin Rawat said the Kartarpur corridor should be seen in isolation, and shouldn’t be linked to anything else. Indian media is misconstruing Bajwa-Chawla handshake claiming that the head of Pakistan Army only met Chawla for his political views. Indian media outlets, including India Today aired the live transmission with catch-lines like “Khalistanis attended event” or “Pak’s brazen terror provocation”. According to Indian media reports, Chawla had earlier stopped Indian diplomats from visiting a Gurdwara in Lahore. Chawla is known as one of the main propagators of the Sikh separatist movement, which seeks a separate homeland for the community. When asked why he met Pakistan’s army chief, Chawla said he is the general secretary and chairman of Pakistan Gurdwara Association, adding that it was their program. “We should not take this issue towards negativity. I shook hands with Gen Bajwa. Pakistan’s army chief lives in our hearts. I consider it as my good fortune if I met him,” Chawla stated. “We want brotherhood between the two nations.” Responding to the misreporting, the army’s spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor said on Twitter “Indian media taking a myopic view is selectively showing Mr. Gopal Chawla meeting COAS. Army Chief met all guests at the venue irrespective of identity. A peace initiative should not be subjected to propaganda.” It shows India’s small-mindedness.
Indian media is misconstruing Bajwa-Chawla handshake claiming that the head of Pakistan Army only met Chawla for his political views.