As Pakistan continues with efforts to defuse tensions with India after the Pulwama incident, the Indian government seems to be finding new ways to harden its stance. After Prime Minister Imran Khan’s address, which was largely about cooperation to get to the bottom of the tragic attack, some sections of the Indian media seemed more intent on making Imran Khan out to be an aggressor by highlighting his words regarding Pakistan defending itself if attacked, rather than his offer of reconciliation.
Also ignored was a simple question asked by the prime minister on camera, and many well-informed people in Pakistan, India, and across the globe — what Pakistan possibly have to gain from the attack? Another point he raised — also ignored by the vast majority of India’s hyper-nationalist media outlets — was India’s need for introspection, namely why it continues to believe that oppressing the people of occupied Kashmir will yield any results other than violence.
Hours after the PM offered to cooperate in investigations of the attack, the Indian government demanded that Pakistan take ‘credible and visible action’. Never mind that, officially at least, India has shared no information on which it wants Pakistan to act on. Based on the information publicly available, the attack was home-grown, in the region occupied by India itself. So is it that India is asking Pakistan to take action inside occupied Kashmir?
While that is probably not the official line, it would be unsurprising if, years later, we find that it was the Modi government’s strategy all along. After all, the economic boom he promised never happened, his demonetisation was a disaster, and his foreign policy efforts have largely failed. So driven by domestic compulsions particularly with an eye on the upcoming general elections, Modi has returned to his tried and tested election-winning strategy — instigating violence for political gains. It was Godhra in 2002. It is Pulwama in 2019. It now appears that the world has begun talking to India and Pakistan to get them to take a step back. Judging by the statements emanating from either side of the border, India’s leadership needs a dose of tranquilliser.
By the way, there is one credible action that the Indian people could take to resolve such issues — stop electing terrorists.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 21st, 2019.
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