Echoes of antiquated stratagems 

Indian Elections and Accusatory Rhetoric against Pakistan 

The ruling Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) running for its continuous third term is yearning to crush down anti-incumbency sentiments, one way of doing this is playing Pakistan card. Dubious strategies comprising misinformation campaigns, pro-nationalist narratives, rising extremism, increasing hate towards Pakistan, endeavors to suppress voters, crushing the political opposition, self-fabricated stories, and growing apprehension for deceptive election tactics has been apportion of Indian electoral process. Pakistan card is very significant in Indian politics. BJP always tried to make a harder line on Pakistan which resonates in an average Indian voter, making them suspicious of Pakistan. This binds BJP to carry anti-Pakistan discourse in their policies as well as in their election campaign to avoid wrath from voters.

The anti-Pakistan sentiments has flared in India many a times thus, making Pakistan a subject of relevance in BJP’s elections manifesto. In 2014, Bhartiya Janta Party underlined its commitment to address the refugee concerns from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) in its election manifesto. This trend resurfaced in 2019 with the Pulwama attacks and the stirred nationalistic emotions among the people. In another statement with a denouncing line of “go to Pakistan” over dissenting voices, BJP’s Yuva Morcha (Youth wing of BJP) censured Shashi Tharoor, a former minister for external affairs and a present Lok Sabha member, urging him to go to Pakistan over his criticism of Modi government.

Pakistan-centric construction of populist discourse is made through misinformation campaigns and use of Bollywood as a rhetorical device as the election approaches in India. As in 2019, ‘URI the Surgical Strike’ aligned with the BJPs nationalist stance propagated the governments agenda and contributed to Modi’s victory. Following a similar fashion in 2024, movies like ‘Article 370’ and ‘Fighter’ reinforces BJPs anti-Pakistan narrative on Kashmir and gaining public sympathy, aligning with the current political narratives.

Election campaigns in India witness false propaganda and disinformation on their links with Pakistan to calumniate the opposition. In Gujrat Assembly’s run up elections in 2017, Modi denounced former PM Manmohan Singh of ‘holding meetings with Pakistani diplomats and conspiracy against him.’ Reverberating in corridors of time, Modi once again accused congress of being a ‘disciple of Pakistan’ and said that Pakistan wants to see Rahul Gandhi as the PM of India. Addressing to several election rallies in Gujrat, Modi blamed congress of its dangerous mentality and stated that its manifesto is written in the “language of Muslim League.”

There has been a surge in provocative statements by the Indian leaders over the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir.

There has been a surge in provocative statements by the Indian leaders over the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir. Indian Defense minister Rajnath Singh said that “People of POK will demand to be with India.” Pakistan rejected such claims, FO spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra said that “surge in such provocative statements fueled by hyper-nationalism is a rhetoric and imposes threat to the regional peace.” She termed it as a reckless practice of dragging Pakistan into India’s populist public discourse for electoral motives by Indian politicians. Anti-Pakistan, anti-Kashmir, and anti-Muslims rhetoric are used to mobilize the Hindu voters during electoral campaigns. The surgical strike in 2019 following the Pulwama attack was a key platform to BJPs electoral crusade. Modi emerged as a national rescuer from the Pulwama charade in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. India’s defense minister Rajnath Singh said that if terrorists from neighboring country try to disturb peace in India or try to carry out terrorists’ activities in India, “we will give them a befitting reply. If they run away to Pakistan, we will enter Pakistan to kill them.” The surge in such provocative statements jeopardizes the regional peace and susceptibility.

Indian intelligence officials claimed that Indian government ordered killings in Pakistan. According to the Guardian report, Indian government assassinated individuals in Pakistan as a part of its strategy to culminate terrorists living on foreign soil. With such claims coming out at critical point concerning the ongoing elections give further weight to the allegations of Modi’s government involvement in extrajudicial killings in Canada and US that jeopardizes the security and stability.

Considering the tendencies, Pakistan ought to be ready for any misadventure and avoid any escalation posing a threat to regional peace. India’s propaganda against Pakistan driven by the self-fabricated political motivations and anti-Pakistan rhetoric relies on falsehoods and to secure domestic political mileage. Pakistan ought to make a positive use of international diplomacy in drawing attention of international community to the Indian accusatory rhetoric on Pakistan in ascertaining the integrity of electoral process and regional peace.

Rana Muhammad Dilawar
Rana Muhammad Dilawar
The writer is a freelance columnist

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