- A vengeful politician or a wise statesman
The Pulwama terrorist attack has posed a new challenge to Modi’s election prospects. Days after the attack he had announced that the time for talks with Pakistan is over while in Bihar he had said “a fire is raging in my heart.” BJP ally Shiv Sena had declared it was time to “attack” Pakistan and seek revenge for the deaths of Indian soldiers.
Modi’s options to harm Pakistan are limited. Going back on Indus Water Treaty would have little support from any major power while it would not create any dramatic impact capable of influencing voters in the elections due within less than four months. The denial of MFN status has been ineffective due to the insignificant quantum of India-Pakistan trade. Any attempt to isolate Pakistan internationally would fail as Pakistan has close ties with China while its relations with Russia are warming up. The US doesn’t want to annoy Pakistan while it is playing a key role in arranging talks between the US and Afghan Taliban. Days after Pulwama, Saudi Crown Prince visited Islamabad, announced $20b investment and supported talks between India and Pakistan. Any Indian attack on Pakistan will be met with immediate retaliation, as PM Khan has promised. No major power wants war between the two nuclear states in a highly crucial region. The UN Secretary General has offered help to resolve the differences in case both countries agree to it.
There is a dire need on the part of India and Pakistan to try to find an out of the box solution to the Kashmir issue. An earlier exercise in the direction shows this can be done. An understanding between India, Pakistan and the Kashmiri freedom fighters will put an end to the decades old persecution in the Valley as well as attacks on unarmed Kashmiris in various Indian states. Unless this is done law enforcement agencies in Indian occupied Kashmir will continue to be targeted by local population despite Gen Dhillon’s insensitive warning to Kashmiri mothers to tell their sons who’ve taken up guns to surrender or be killed. There is a need for PM Modi to rise above the level of a vengeful politician and be seen instead as a statesman with stature.