It is not surprising but an index of the confusion that characterises the Pakistan establishment that on the eve of the opening of the Kartarpur corridor for Indian pilgrims to visit the gurudwara at the birthplace of Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh faith, the Pakistan army has refuted Prime Minister Imran Khan’s order that pilgrims from India could carry ‘any valid identity proof.’
The army insists that pilgrims using the Kartarpur corridor will have to carry valid passports. Considering that many prospective pilgrims would have already made preparations in line with the Pakistan government’s earlier order, this is a recipe for confusion.
At a time when much of the Pakistan opposition is baying for Imran’s resignation and it is the army support that is crucial to Imran’s survival in office, such a rebuff from the army can be interpreted as a thumbs down for the prime minister.
The least that was expected of the Imran government was that, knowing how overbearing the army is in Pakistan, his government would clear the announcement on valid travel document with it rather than suffering the embarrassment of a rollback of the decision.
As External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar has clarified, there is a bilateral document which has been signed between India and Pakistan, which clearly specifies the document to be carried by the pilgrims.
Any amendment to that cannot be done unilaterally, it requires consent of both the parties.Raveesh Kumar said India has sensitised Pakistan about the security and protocol arrangements as well but there has been no word from the Pakistan side two days before the inauguration of the Kartarpur corridor. At an event at which a host of Indian dignitaries including Prime Minister Modi are going, there cannot be any loose ends.