Question Marks on Indo-Pak Relations

How India and Pakistan relations are going to shape after May 2014 will be a big guess at present.


Some political analysts believe that if elected Narendra ‘Modi will adopt a tough foreign policy that could see relations deteriorate with China and Pakistan’. It is no surmise. During the election campaign there have been many pointers towards this. In February at election rallies in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam in a very caustic language Modi asked Beijing to “leave behind its expansionist mindset   and work for development and prosperity”. China counts Arunachal Pradesh as South Tibet and claims the entire territory of the state. Calling the territory as “disputed” Beijing time and again has been saying that India should not “trigger disturbance” but resolve the dispute over 15000 Sq Miles it has been claiming.  The BJP leader blamed the Congress leader government for having been “too soft and meek” towards Beijing, suggesting that his government will depart from this policy and adopt a ‘proactive policies’, towards the fastest growing economy in the world.   

 Modi has largely remained quiet about foreign policy but  commentators have indicated despite personal bitterness with Washington he has an understanding with USA and Israel. Resignation of Nancy Powell, US Ambassador in New Delhi is attributed to this “understanding”. 

 The B JP election manifesto 2014, speaking about a ‘resurgent India’, and its ‘rightful place in comity of nations and international institutions’ talks about “rebooting of India’s  foreign policy.”   The manifesto with all ‘nationalism’ exuding from it is largely vague about India’s foreign policy more particularly about its relations with the neighboring country. But, what is ironical that despite elusiveness about relations with neighbors, Pakistan by proxy has entered into the electoral campaign of the BJP and has been part of India’s national discourse. On March 26, 2014, speaking at an election rally in Hiranagar, Jammu Modi added a new phrase, “Three AKs” to the glossary of India and Pakistan relations.  “Three AKs have emerged as a unique strength for Pakistan” he said. Other than AK47, which he used as symbol for “terrorism” from across, the other two AK’s he explained   were Arvind Kejriwal and Defense Minister, A.K. Antony. And without mincing words he called them as “agents of Pakistan”. 

Couple of days back Giriraj Singh, a leader of Bihar state unit of the party sounded more dangerous when he said that those who opposed Modi would have to leave India and go to Pakistan.  Commentators like Praful Bidwai have seen  statements made by BJP leaders Amit Shah, Giriraj or Prvain Tagodia (VHP) out of desperation for their ‘not being confident of victory’ thus working for polarizing the electorate on Hindu-Muslim lines. Some commentators look at the emerging scenario to the role of Hindu Mahasabha in early part of the twentieth century that had ultimately resulted in division of India on religious basis. Though, they rule out another division but believe that polarization does not augur well for the integrity of India. 

On April 26, when I was writing this column in an exclusive interview with a  Hindi news channel Modi hinted at hot pursuits against Pakistan. In response to question of bringing back Dawood Ibrham believed to be residing in Pakistan he said, let me quote full text:  "Is this matter supposed to be discussed on a public forum like the press. Did the US conduct a press conference before they were planning to attack bin Laden? I feel ashamed that our Home Minister does not have the minimum maturity and is making such statements." He was referring to statement recently made by Home Minister, Shinde that New Delhi was working with Washington for bringing Dawood back to India from ‘Pakistan’. The statement raises a very serious question if the prospective Prime Minister of India is planning an   action like ‘operation Neptune spear” led by C. I.A for killing Osama bin laden deep inside Pakistan for arresting once the Bombay Don “believed to be” hiding in the neighboring country. Shinde had said New Delhi knew where he is hiding. 

Notwithstanding, Pakistan with all its negative image having become part of  the BJP orchestrated electoral discourse the ruling Muslim League (N) government in Pakistan is optimistic about entering  into trade agreements with New Delhi and improving its ties with the Modi led Sarkar.  Having moved out of the ‘premises of national security paradigm’ that has been bedrock of countries policy for past sixty five years, the PML(N)  has been looking at “economic cooperation” as way out for resolution of all disputes with New Delhi. Couple of days back Abdul Basit, High Commissioner of Pakistan to India amidst bizarre scenario and confusion clouding New Delhi’s future foreign policy felt “encouraged” and saw hope for better relations with India in Modi’s interview to a television channel. Modi had said that he would pursue the policies followed by former BJP premier Atal Bihari Vajpayee.  Vajpayee had visited Minar Pakistan in Lahore and also started composite dialogue with the country. Minus some Kashmir related CBMs and trade agreement there was no substantial progress   during almost nine years peace process- the stalemate continues.    Diplomats for that matter are expected to grab even pinhole opportunities for improving relation between their countries and that of the host countries. The  posts of new Pakistan’s High Commissioner  on social network’s like Face Book are indicative that he is endeavoring hard to reach out to every tier of civil society in India for building bridges between the two countries. Given to building political scenario in New Delhi, it seems he has tough task ahead.

“Narendra Modi is quintessentially an RSS man having joined it when he was in his teens,” as an Indian commentator wrote some time back in Pakistan Newspaper Dawn. Across ideological divide political commentators hold the opinion that the RSS has tightened its grip over the BJP- perhaps strongest after the birth of the party took its present avatar after the dissolution of Jan Sangh in 1977.  To quote leading Indian political commentator Praful Bidwai, “The RSS is fully complicit in Modi’s plans to weed out all the personnel and policies associated with the Vajpayee legacy, and build a primarily Sangh-based party around Mr Modi.” Drawing strength from his parent organization Modi with no misgivings told the top leadership that their innings was over by allotting them the constituency of his choice. Two, of these leaders that is Jaswant Singh and L.K. Advani of late were seen as Pakistan friendly. How India and Pakistan relations are going to shape after May 2014 will be a big guess at present