By Jaideep Sarin
Chandigarh, Feb 28 (IANS) Even as a minister in his cabinet continues a pro-Pakistan rant, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has spoken his mind out about the “conspiracies” being hatched by Pakistan, especially its Army and the ISI, to revive terrorism in Punjab.
With the tension between India and Pakistan, in the aftermath of the February 14 Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF troopers were martyred, peaking in recent days, Amarinder has minced no words to say that Pakistan deserves to be taught a strong lesson.
Amarinder, who turns 77 on March 10, told IANS in an interview here that not only was Pakistan trying to revive terrorism in Punjab but was pushing hard for militancy from Jammu and Kashmir spilling over into Punjab.
“There is a clear and specific threat to Punjab from Pakistan. As I have repeatedly been saying for the past several months, after Kashmir, it is Punjab that is a pawn for the ISI (Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence) to execute its evil designs against India. They have tried it earlier, and unfortunately, the last time (in the 1980s) they were successful for various reasons.
“The attempts to revive militancy in Punjab have been quite open, as is evident from the number of terror modules the Punjab Police has busted in the last two years alone. But, as I have also repeatedly maintained, the times now are different. We are a bigger force (81,000-strong Punjab Police) in more ways than one, and I have personally vowed not to let them cause any disturbance in my state again,” Amarinder Singh said.
“As a border state, we are in a precarious situation and extremely vulnerable to Pakistan’s nefarious designs. The links are there, and our police force has successfully unravelled most of them. And rest assured, they will unravel the rest and destroy any attempts to again trigger terror in Punjab,” the Chief Minister said.
Asked whether the state government was in touch with the authorites in Canada, where the Khalistanis are quite active, Amarinder said he had directly conveyed his concerns and views to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“I told him in no uncertain words that allowing use of Canadian soil for such activities or letting pro-Khalistanis operate from under his nose is not a good policy for his government. It makes him responsible for their crimes.
“I am happy to note that there has been a decisive shift in their policy in recent months, with Canada seeing these elements as a threat to its own stability, peace and future. Terrorism is a global problem which every nation is affected by, and which all nations need to join hands to fight together. That is the message I have given earlier, and would like to reiterate, to the Canadian government,” Amarinder explained.
He also welcomed the move by India and Pakistan to allow pilgrims to offer prayers at the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara in Pakistan through a 4-km dedicated corridor but was apprehensive about the evil designs of the Pakistani establishment.
Dubbing the whole affair initiated by Pakistan on the Kartarpur Corridor as a “bigger conspiracy” hatched by the Pakistani military, Amarinder Singh cited the fact that Pakistan Army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, had “broken the news of opening the Kartarpur Corridor to (Punjab cabinet minister) Navjot Singh Sidhu even before Imran Khan was sworn in as the Prime Minister”.
Contending that the whole affair “smacked of a bigger conspiracy”, Amarinder Singh said: “The opening of the Kartarpur Corridor is clearly a game plan of the ISI. A bigger conspiracy seems to have been hatched by the Pakistani Army against India. Pakistan is attempting to revive militancy in Punjab and thus everyone should be wary of all of its overtures, no matter how grand they appear to be,” Amarinder added.
(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at [email protected])