Army slams Indian media for misconstruing Bajwa-Chawla handshake


Pakistan Army lashed out at India’s news media for misrepresenting the handshake between Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Gopal Chawla, a pro-Khalistan movement leader, at the groundbreaking ceremony of Kartarpur border corridor.

Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation stone of the Kartarpur corridor which connects Narowal’s Gurdwara Darbar Sahib to Dera Baba Nanak situated in India’s Gurdaspur district on Wednesday.

During the ceremony, the army chief met all the guests and welcomed them at the peace initiative taken by Pakistan. However, various news channels in India reported a twisted version of the handshake between Gen Bajwa and Chawla.

While claiming that the head of Pakistan Army only met Chawla for his political views, Indian media outlets, including India Today, aired the live transmission with catchlines like “Khalistanis attended event” or “Pak’s brazen terror provocation”.

According to Indian media reports, Chawla had earlier stopped Indian diplomats from visiting a Gurdwara in Lahore.

Chawla is known as one of the main propagators of the Sikh separatist movement, which seeks a separate homeland for the community.

Responding to the misreporting, the army’s spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor said on Twitter, “Indian media taking a myopic view is selectively showing Mr Gopal Chawla meeting COAS. Army Chief met all guests at the venue irrespective of identity. A peace initiative should not be subjected to propaganda.”

When asked why he met Pakistan’s army chief, Chawla said he is the general secretary and chairman of Pakistan Gurdwara Association, adding that it was their programme.

“We should not take this issue towards negativity. I shook hands with Gen Bajwa. Pakistan’s army chief lives in our hearts. I consider it as my good fortune if I met him,” Chawla stated. “We want brotherhood between the two nations [India and Pakistan].”

At one question, Chawla advised media to keep Jamaautud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed away from this matter.

On the other hand, India’s army chief General Bipin Rawat said the Kartarpur corridor should be seen in isolation, and shouldn’t be linked to anything else.