Since his ascendancy to power in 2013, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not been only promoting the racist and fascist Hindu Rashtra of RSS to the utmost peril of the minority communities especially the Muslims who roughly form 16% of the huge Indian population, he has also radicalised his foreign and security policy turning the country into a close ally of the United States of America embracing all the hostile diplomatic, strategic and economic moves of the latter to contain China particularly in Asia and Pacific.
The Muslims cannot breathe freely nor can they follow their political, cultural and religious rights in India. The perpetration of human rights violation against the Muslims has become order of the day; their educational institutions, mosques and seats of Islamic teaching are vandalized; their honour and the sanctity of their homes is violated randomly to the glare of the law enforcing agencies. They have Damocles’ sword hanging on their heads for expulsion from the land of their forefathers. They are living in frightful and uncertain conditions. The situation is worse in Jammu and Kashmir where the Muslims have been facing the brutalities of over half a million Indian forces since the past 15 months. The helplessness of over 220 million Muslims is painful and the silence of the world regrettable.
Narendra Modi believes in political, ideological and strategic machismo. He and his patrons in the White House were unmindful of the dangerous consequences of his foreign and security policy decisions on Kashmir which were bound to create an explosive situation in South Asia. The escalation of tension along the Line of Control (LoC) and the Line of Actual Control (LAC) has the potential of exploding into a full-fledged military clash and nuclear exchanges. His move of 5 August 2019 had the tacit approval of President Donald Trump that ended the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh bringing them under the Union writ. His action inflamed the entire population of the Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh; escalated tension on the LoC and LAC.
India and China have inherited border disputes from the partition. The two countries had a limited war in 1962 which left the border disputes unresolved. The war held back the two countries to forge close bilateral relations as India was too closely allied to USSR to have good terms with China being in bad books of the Kremlin. The breakup of the USSR opened new diplomatic and trade vistas. India moved haltingly towards China which had placed all bilateral disputes, with a few exceptions, on the back burner and was engaging countries in trade and economic relations. Both the countries had the potential of becoming economic powers to reckon with, as reflected by their leading role in the BRICS. Their bilateral trade scaled over $92billion.
The emergence of Narendra Modi as the national leader and his unbounded acquiescence in the US policy in South Asia and Pacific started impacting Sino-Indian relations. He went a whole hog to become active partner in the American ‘China containment’ policy playing a robust role in the naval patrolling in South China Sea along with Vietnam; taking part in and also hosting – the Quad naval exercises and opposing the CPEC in South Asia. He rebuffed all the Chinese good neighbourly gestures and rejected its offer of joining the BRI. Narendra Modi with his Hindu ultranationalist agenda and Nazi mindset resorted to threatening neighbours with use of force causing disequilibrium in the region. This is a dangerous turn in the Indian policy and may cause widespread disturbance particularly for its neighbours who already complain about Indian high handedness.
The abrogation of articles of the Indian constitution robbing the disputed Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh of their special status in 2019 was a loud message for China and Pakistan driving home the point that the new Indian leadership only knew and believed in the use of force in foreign policy. Without caring a bit about the reactions of China and Pakistan, the Indian leaders tasked their strategists to strengthen military positions along the LoC and LAC by amassing troops and building infrastructural facilities in the disputed regions. This caused military clashes along the LoC and LAC and arousing international concerns. This military tension between the three nuclear neighbours portends an explosive situation as it is feared that Modi may go to the extent of committing a commit political hara-kiri by revoking his act of August 2019.
Pakistan has to see the global realignments from the prism of its national security over and above all ideological considerations. Our security is the special target of Modi’s current policies that aim at firming up his political position in the 80% Hindu population of India – fired with Hindu Rashtra – and burning with an unfading obsession to see Pakistan humiliated and disintegrated. No sooner than he overcomes the current imbroglio with China, Modi will stoke fire in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. We should not count on the US as both the Republicans and Democrats largely agree on the China containment policy and by all means it will remain the vital plank of the US foreign policy. Historically, India has been their choice as countervail to China –it be Roosevelt, Harry Truman or Eisenhower and their successors. All of them had an appeasement policy towards India, a close ally of the Kremlin. We may recall Pakistan, as an ally, got less from the US than India as the USSR ally in the first two decades of our independence.
The sheer size of the Indian population, its huge consumer market and economic strength place Pakistan at a disadvantageous position in today’s fierce economic and diplomatic competition. Diplomacy without military and economic power is like music without instruments. We have the military strength which cannot be sustained by our chronically ailing economy. Our first priority should be economic rehabilitation come what sacrifices it may demand. The nation may be prepared for the hard days and should not shirk from hard toil and consistency. In the evolving political and strategic alignments Pakistan can forge close relationships with China, Russia, Turkey, Malaysia, Iran and Afghanistan to have access to the resource-laden Central Asian Republics. If the Gulf Muslim states can join the US-strategised security arrangement with Israel it may not be feasible for Pakistan to remain oblivious to this development. This is the opportune time to redraw the strategic map and come up with plans appropriate to the emerging situation. TW