Capt Amarinder Singh strategically positions himself in the post-Pulwama narrative
Chandigarh, February 19: Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh hit back within no time of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan issuing a statement on Tuesday on the Pulwama attack in Kashmir saying he was ready for a dialogue including on terrorism while at the same time, warning of retaliation in case of any provocation from India.
As a chief minister of a border state where terrorism/militancy related violence where more than 40,000 people have been killed since 1980 in which the role of Pakistan surfaced early, he is the right man to react. And he has reacted strongly, not just as an ordinary politician but also as a soldier.
He is also aware that the historical fact of both the Indian and Pakistani Punjab having close linkage at various levels that can’t be overlooked.
Punjab has been in the news vis-à-vis Pakistan for the last several months beginning with inauguration of Imran Khan as the prime minister that was attended by Indian cricketer turned Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu. The issue of Kartarpur Sahib corridor linking the two shrines associated with Guru Nanak Dev separated by 4-km across the Radcliffe line was mentioned there by Pakistan army chief general Qamar Javed Bajwa. Sidhu was to receive brickbats for hugging General Bajwa as emotional response to corridor that the Sikhs have been demanding for years to have free access to Kartarpur Sahib. The response to him from a major section of the Sikh community was different.
Sidhu’s reaction to Pulwama too differed from the national sentiment and he came under attack for being soft towards Pakistan. However, it was Capt Amarinder Singh who positioned himself differently in this narrative with his statement of two heads for one.
He today hit back at Imran Khan in his usual style. He tweeted:
Dear @ImranKhanPTI you have Jaish chief Masood Azhar sitting in Bahawalpur & masterminding the attacks with ISI help. Go pick him up from there. If you can’t let us know, we’ll do it for you. BTW what has been done about the proofs of Mumbai’s 26/11 attack. Time to walk the talk.
He later said in a statement, “What proof is he talking about, should we take the bodies there? Masood Azhar is in Pakistan and doing things from there, and everyone knows it. Every day our soldiers are being killed at the Line of Control – so who’s killing them?,” asked the Chief Minister, declaring that the entire world knew what Pakistan was doing in Kashmir and other parts of India. They (Pakistan) were behind 26/11 and India gave all the proof to them, but they did nothing, Captain Amarinder pointed out that even in the Rajasansi blast (Nirankari Bhawan) a Pakistani grenade was used, clearly exposing their involvement.”
As the chief minister of Punjab in his second term, he has every information on the role of Pakistan in his own state and he is thus the right man to take unequivocal stand on the offer of talks and warning of retaliation by Imran Khan.
At the political level in the run up to the Lok Sabha elections, his strategic positioning in very significant as he has suddenly dominated the so called nationalist space.
It is rare for a state chief minister to capture this space at the national level but the he is not from that usual class of politicians.
At the state level, he has shown Sidhu his place. Sidhu should know that logic is the first casualty under such a situation.