LAHORE: India’s secular mask was ripped off with the slogans used in the 2014 Indian election campaign, ensuring the win of Narendra Modi, a hardcore Hindu nationalist leader, who was supported by the RSS and is best known for the massacre of Muslims that happened in Gujarat in 2002 when he was that state’s chief minister. Since assuming power as prime minister of India, Modi has made certain decisions, which have exposed his stance towards Pakistan and the future of Muslims in India. India has evolved a new security doctrine that abandons peace dialogue with Pakistan at any level and gives a free hand to the Indian Army on the Line of Control (LoC). The recent ceasefire violations on the Working Boundary and the LoC are both proof of this changed stance by the new Indian government.
Amidst tension on the border, India is all set to play a dangerous game in Kashmir. One of the BJP’s key election pledges was that it would end Article 370, which gives Kashmir a special status under the Indian Constitution. While doves on this side of the border think that it was a good thing that Nawaz Sharif exchanged gifts with the Indian prime minister when he was elected to office, the fact is that it gives the impression of being weak-kneed, and that too to our arch-enemy. On top of that, the recent political crisis in Pakistan has given rise to the perception in India that our state fabric is tattered by internal conflicts and that we can’t respond in an appropriately forceful manner against Indian aggression.
The fact is that a nuclear Pakistan and a motivated army backed by the unity of the nation are a guarantee that India will not dare to enter into an open war. While it is too early to say how a harder line on Kashmir by our political and military leadership would work, there is absolutely no doubt that things like ‘Aman ki Asha’ have been big failures. India must realise that the old tactics of winning wars by cultural invasion or by buying certain segments of society will not earn it anything. India is treading on a dangerous path of state-sponsored extremism. In an unprecedented move, India’s state-run TV channel, Doordarshan, showed live a speech of Mohan Bhagwat, the head of the RSS. To understand the enormity of this, a similar analogy in Pakistan would be if PTV were to air live a speech by the TTP chief, Mullah Fazlullah. Indian secularism often thrives on promoting fear rather than hope, but make no mistake about it: there is a real danger of Muslim dissatisfaction with India’s democracy and Modi’s government is further exacerbating the grievances held by this segment of the population.
Shelling across the border will never end in a resolution of the Kashmir issue; it will only make things worse. And neither will adopting an ostrich-like strategy on human rights violations in Kashmir make Modi the world leader that he so desperately wants to become. To India’s discomfort, Pakistan will further up the ante over Kashmir on all fronts. With the Kashmir Million March in London, the issue has already made its way into the foreign press.
Major (retd) Yamin Butt
Published in The Express Tribune, November 2nd, 2014.