Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of Sikhism, laid the foundation of Kartarpur —currently located in District Narowal, Punjab, Pakistan — in 1522 and, over centuries, the place has assumed immense significance for the Sikh nation living in India and Pakistan and, as a diasporic community, all over the world. Since Partition of British India in 1947, the Sikh people dreamed of pilgrimaging to Kartarpur, across the Ravi that separates the Indian and Pakistani Punjab with a distance of four kilometres. In his first address to the nation, the newly elected Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, vowed to normalize ties with India; and opening the Kartarpur corridor was voiced as a step in the right direction. On November 28, 2018, Pakistan’s civil and military leadership gathered along with a couple of State and Union ministers from India who might have implicitly represented the Union Government for both Ms Harsimrat Kaur Badal (Akali Dal) and Navjot Singh Sidhu (Congress) hail from non-BJP parties. Such speculations gain ground due to the non-engagement of the Modi Sarkar in terms of dispatching higher ranks of federal ministers. Indeed, it came as no surprise that, on the inaugural day when Indian sub-level government officials were laying the foundation stone for the construction of the Kartarpur corridor with the top-level Pakistani officials including Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), India’s External Affairs Minister, Ms Sushma Swaraj, was seen, on the right wing Indian media, uttering anti-Pakistan rhetoric. Moreover, post-ceremony, Ms Swaraj disappointed peace lovers on both sides of the border by downplaying Pakistan’s initiative, arguing that Imran Khan had violated India’s sovereignty over Jammu and Kashmir by mentioning the latter at an occasion that was meant for purely religious purposes. Moreover, she announced India’s unilateral refusal to attend the upcoming SAARC summit scheduled to be hosted in Islamabad. Having learnt the art of ideological politics, which proved chaotic and divisive in socio-cultural terms for otherwise a pluralistic India, the Modi led BJP is inciting anti-Muslim sentiments recently in Gujrat where its extremist pro-BJP Hindu ranks are reportedly planning to construct the Ram temple at the place of the demolished Babri mosque There are certain political and polemical factors at play when it comes to the India-Pakistan normalization. In the current context, the Pakistani federal government led by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) repeated what the previous PML-N government did by taking an initiative to attend the inaugural ceremony of PM elect Modi in 2014. The entire Indian media along with political pundits and certain intellectuals held Nawaz Sharif in high esteem. Later on, Nawaz Sharif was engulfed in court cases and was ultimately disqualified. Now when the PTI led government, with little history of personal relations with the Indian political elite, extended a hand of friendship- and that, with the manifested support of the COAS — towards its counterpart, the latter dismissed it on account of political and polemical reasons. Politically, the BJP is campaigning for general elections to be held next year. The party, whose popularity graph has considerably gone down among the jobless youth and especially the minorities, particularly the Muslims, is once again repeating anti-Muslim (and anti-Pakistan) mantra for electoral purposes. Noticeably, pre-2014 general elections, the BJP did a trick and it went well: the party bracketed the All India Congress, its archrival, with Muslims due to their numerical strength in, for instance, Uttar Pradesh (UP), and projected the Congress as a Muslim party working for Muslim interests at the expense of the majority of Hindus. Ideologically, in this age of the ‘new normal’, it paid off as argued by Pradeep Chhibber and Rahul Varma in Ideology and Identity: The Changing Party Systems of India (2018). Having learnt the art of ideological politics, which proved chaotic and divisive in socio-cultural terms for otherwise a pluralistic India, the Modi led BJP is inciting anti-Muslim sentiments recently in Gujrat where its extremist pro-BJP Hindu ranks are reportedly planning to construct the Ram temple at the place of the demolished Babri mosque. By attempting to build the Ram temple, the BJP-RSS are trying to win over Hindu sympathies in electoral terms; the Congress, if it came to speak against it, will again be projected as anti-Hindu and a pro-Muslim party. Socio-economically and politically, the Muslims, among other minorities, are most likely to suffer more as they are gradually losing political clout due to political miscalculations, i.e. some sections quit the Congress in favour of the BJP which, in turn, ditched them by according top positions to the RSS core at state and federal level. In addition, since Akali Dal defeated the BJP in Punjab in recent state election, the BJP pundits seem keen to invoke anti-Pakistan sentiments in an effort to amass electoral support from the states bordering Pakistan. This is least likely to happen as the local politics in Punjab are determined by non-Pakistani factors. It is true of Central and South India, too. Besides, it’s polemical politics, India since it failed to initiate peace overtures in recent years, is simply attempting to discredit Pakistan for taking a leap forward. Indeed, Imran Khan pointed out quite rightly that both India and Pakistan lost and will lose if they keep confronting each other in complex regional reshuffling. Both the states are nuclear. Though nuclear capability may not neutralize conventional warfare, keeping Kargil in mind, India and Pakistan, and perhaps its neighbourhood, is most likely to completely be wiped out if nuclear stockpiles is made. Besides, its mere politics to claim the legally disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir as an integral part of India- the case is still with the United Nations. India and Pakistan will have to settle the dispute legally, eventually. Finally, it is quite a positive development that the Pakistani civil and military leadership seem to be on the same page as this has rarely happened in the past. Indeed, previous governments, of both PMLN and PPP, were blamed for normalizing ties with archrival India while bypassing the military. This time around, that impression seems to have been dispelled and now the ball is in India’s court. If rationality is a guide, the current and the future governments in India ought to give peace a serious chance and work in tandem with Pakistan for the welfare of millions of poverty-stricken people across the border. In this respect, they should, as Mr Khan appropriately said, learn from China. If there is bilateral political will, then the Kartarpur corridor will serve as a point of departure for sustained cooperation and durable peace in the years ahead. The author has taught at COMSATS, FC College and Iqra Universities in Pakistan. He was a visiting fellow at Fudan University in China and UC Berkeley in the US. Currently, he is based in Shanghai. He tweets @ejazbhatty Published in Daily Times, December 2nd 2018.