Recently, Pakistan's foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has announced his decision to formally invite former prime minister Manmohan Singh, instead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to attend the inaugural ceremony of the landmark Kartarpur Corridor in November. This rare goodwill gesture comes amid heightened India-Pakistan tensions ever since the Modi government's decision to scrap Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir on 5 August.
Pakistan attempted to justify the decision to invite the senior Congress leader by saying Manmohan was a representative of the Sikh community. "We are also very happy to receive the Sikh pilgrims who are coming to Kartarpur to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak," Qureshi said.
Now while this might be valid enough reason for some, it's worth keeping in mind how Pakistan in the past has used the Opposition to hit out at the Centre and voice its own views.
Before Manmohan, Congress leader and former Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu was invited to the opening ceremony of the Kartarpur Corridor on 28 November, by Imran Khan. Sidhu had also written a letter to former external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj for permission.
— ANI (@ANI) November 23, 2018
Needless to say, this created friction back in India with the ruling party and even Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh questioning the cricketer-turned-politician's decision.
In August, Rahul Gandhi found his his words being used against India when Pakistani minister Shireen Mazari, in a letter to UN officials on the abrogation of Articles 35A and 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, quoted Rahul as saying that people were 'dying' in the Valley. After returning from a visit to the Valley, the Congress leader had said that the situation in Kashmir was not normal and there were some reports of people dying in the troubled state.
The Congress was quick to defend Gandhi's actions and put out a statement saying the party leader was 'mischievously dragged by Pakistan' to justify 'their pack of lies'.
Let no one in the world be in doubt that JK & Ladakh WERE-ARE-SHALL always remain an integral part of India.
No amount of diabolical deception by Pak shall change this truth.
Shri Rahul Gandhi has been mischievously dragged by Pak to justify their pack of lies.
Our statement: pic.twitter.com/SHFqFOt4FO
— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) August 28, 2019
This was the second time Pakistan quoted Rahul's remarks to build its case against India at the United Nations. Earlier, Mazari had used Rahul's statement in her two-page letter on Kashmir to the UN.
After his statement was used by Mazari, the former Congress chief realised that he had made a mistake and tried to clarify the party’s stand, stating that Kashmir was India’s internal issue and there was no room for Pakistan or any other country to intervene in it.
There is violence in Jammu & Kashmir. There is violence because it is instigated and supported by Pakistan which is known to be the prime supporter of terrorism across the world.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) August 28, 2019
However, the damage was already done as Pakistan had used his statement to make its point.
Last year, politicians quoted Rahul's tweets on the Rafale aircraft deal, which had been one of the most contentious issues facing the Modi government during the Lok Sabha election this year.
Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Hussain quoted the Congress leader to explain the 'BJP-led tirade against Pakistan':
— Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) September 22, 2018
— Senator Rehman Malik (@SenRehmanMalik) September 23, 2018
Meanwhile, this trend has not gone unnoticed by the BJP. Modi had slammed the Opposition, calling its leaders as "heroes in Pakistan" and accused Pakistan of quoting them to "discredit" India.
Modi had lashed out at the Congress and its 'non-serious attitude' towards national security and said, "they were silent when they had to act".
With the invitation to Manmohan, it appears Pakistan is once again attempting to use the Opposition to embarrass the government.
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Updated Date: Oct 01, 2019 14:05:19 IST