Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about the NRC Sunday after nationwide protests against the CAA | Photo: Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaking about the NRC last week after nationwide protests against the CAA | Photo: Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint
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Why is Prime Minister Narendra Modi so obsessed with Pakistan? In the last 48 hours, he has twice shown the extent to which the Islamic republic remains front and centre of his mind.

First, on New Year’s day, Modi called the leaders of every country in the neighbourhood to wish them a happy 2020 – except Pakistan. One day later at a rally in Tumakuru, Karnataka, with ash smeared on his forehead, layers of sacred tulsi beads around his neck and a saffron shawl on his shoulders, Modi scolded the Congress for “not speaking against Pakistan” where religious minorities are being persecuted.

Certainly, Pakistan has been a running theme of Modi’s last five-and-a-half-years in power. Every other prime minister has also spent many sleepless nights over Pakistan’s deviant behaviour over the decades, fighting full-blooded wars and defending India against cross-border terrorism. But Modi has been exceptional in his single-minded focus in trying to isolate a country with nearly 20 crore people and nuclear weapons to boot.


Also read: World is no more in awe of Modi. His 2019 adventures have robbed India of all the goodwill


Talks and terrorism

The dedication to this pursuit has persuaded people at home as well as the international community to agree with Modi’s mantra: Talks and terrorism cannot go hand in hand.

Last year, when Modi ordered the Indian Air Force to strike deep inside Pakistan in Balakot in retaliation against the Pulwama attacks, the country applauded. The international community came down hard on Pakistan seeking to escalate the situation.

But in the year since Balakot, something else has happened. Modi has completed his circle of obsession with Pakistan by making the direct link between the Islamic republic as India’s external enemy and Muslims as second-class citizens inside India.

No other prime minister, including BJP’s Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had ever expanded India’s antagonism to the people of Pakistan. But Modi has ensured that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) only applies to non-Muslim minorities in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, not to minorities in other parts of South Asia – Maldives, Sri Lanka, or Bhutan.

As for persecuted Muslims in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh who seek asylum in India, their applications will take double the time and more paperwork.


Also read: Russia getting close to China one joint military exercise at a time. India must worry


No end goal

Certainly, Modi’s preoccupation with Pakistan is embarrassing. India’s vibrant democracy, its ability to turn authoritarianism on its head and its dedication to the ideals of the republic mean that few people want to pay much attention to what has been a failing state for some time.

But the PM’s enthusiasm is manifesting in a variety of ways. Last week in Meerut (Uttar Pradesh), superintendent of police Akhilesh Singh admitted that he told those protesting the Citizenship Act to “go to Pakistan” because he was angry over their alleged pro-Pakistan statements.

And IIT-Kanpur has now constituted a panel to see if the revolutionary poem Hum Dekhenge by noted Pakistani poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz is “anti-Hindu” or not.

Modi’s end-goal is not clear, either. Tumakuru, for example, hardly cares if Pakistan persecutes its minorities or not. Moreover, there is a glaring contradiction between Modi meeting the Chinese in informal summit after summit and in the same breath refusing to dialogue with China’s pet state, Pakistan.

It’s not as if the world is tripping over itself to isolate Pakistan. Abu Dhabi’s crown prince Mohammed bin Zayed has just completed a day-long visit to Islamabad where he offered Pakistan a $200-million bailout – even if the real reason for MBZ’s trip to the capital was to, allegedly, round up his houbara bustard hunt in southern Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is unlikely to change its Pakistan listing from ‘grey’ to ‘black’ at its meeting next month because China and Turkey won’t agree.

As for the Trump administration, it resumed its military training programme for Pakistan less than a fortnight ago. The programme had been cancelled in August 2018 because Russia had invited Pakistan to train a contingent of its troops.


Also read: Modi’s India unhappy with protesters singing Faiz’s Hum Dekhenge. Zia’s Pakistan was too


Tum bilkul hum jaise nikle

The Modi government must see the writing on the wall regarding Pakistan. It cannot allow both domestic and foreign policy to be underwritten by anger, rather than cold-blooded pragmatism.

As India’s economy continues to spiral downwards, the world will take Modi less and less seriously if he pours the kind of negative energy into a country that is streets behind, instead of taking strong action to pull India out of the doldrums.

In this season of poetry and politics, Pakistani poet Fahmida Riaz’s poem Tum bilkul hum jaise nikle (‘You are just like us’) is increasingly invoked as a taunt by Pakistanis for Indians who rightfully believed they had escaped their fractured past.

But as Modi looks at the mirror, some of that trauma seems to have returned. The re-hyphenation between semi-dictatorship and democracy is back.

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34 Comments Share Your Views

34 COMMENTS

  1. Author says ” Moreover, there is a glaring contradiction between Modi meeting the Chinese in informal summit after summit and in the same breath refusing to dialogue with China’s pet state, Pakistan.” Either she is naive, ignorant, or thinks that her readers are stupid to accept such logic.

  2. Aunty used to be frequent in Aman ki Asha..Their response to Pak You killed100 in please kill more ,just that any one ask for revenge “TUM TO HUN JAISE NIKLE” and this stupidy of giving ather cheek also resulted in current situation..

  3. “[The PM] has completed his circle of obsession with Pakistan by making the direct link between the Islamic republic as India’s external enemy and Muslims as second-class citizens inside India.”

    The author should clarify and qualify which ‘Muslims’ they are referring to. Are these Indian Muslims, non-indian Muslims, or all Muslims globally?

    It also seems to be the author’s suggestion that the Indian PM shouldn’t try to isolate the Pakistani State because a) there are 200M Pakistani citizens and b) some countries, including some in the Arab world, will continue to support Pakistan, no matter how ill behaved the Pakistani State.

    The author however doesn’t ask some important questions ie Will India-Pak relations improve if the current ‘Milit-ablishment’ remains in control?

    If international pressure on the Pakistani State increased, would there be a higher probability of a true democracy arising in Pakistan?

    I think most people would agree to the affirmative on both those questions. If so, then what does that say about the PM’s actions vis a vis those other countries / heads of state?

    • nice poem, is it not? an unexpected side story of these protests in that uninitiated people like me discovered the lovely world of urdu poetry and realized (a) it is almost hindi and therefore understandable and (b) pak is almost like contemporary hind and therefore totally relatable.

  4. “The dedication to this pursuit has persuaded people at home as well as the international community to agree with Modi’s mantra: Talks and terrorism cannot go hand in hand.” – NOT TRUE. Every country, from A to Z, has said that India and Pakistan must talk with each other to resolve the Kashmir issue. No country has said that “Talks and terrorism cannot go hand in hand”, AND INDIA AND PAKISTAN MUSTN’T TALK UNTIL THE “TERRORISM” ACROSS THE BORDER DOESN’T STOP. In fact the world doesn’t give a hoot to either Kashmir, or the terrorism across the border. India even tried to get the world pay more attention by saying that the terrorism in Kashmir was international terrorism, but it appears the world didn’t buy it!

  5. And thanks to you for giving me such glorious opportunity to sock it to buddhus like you ;).

    But please, go beyond simple concepts like liberal. I don’t even know what it means.

    And we know that it is the buddhus who will keep electing Modi. Alas, what can we do? That’s democracy.

  6. rss’s dream of akhand-bharat is coming true – students in Pakistan are chanting the jnu-azadi song and students from jmu/jnu/amu to iims/iits here are singing Faiz. wah modiji wah! you forged a hindustan-pakistan unity that could not be achieve in 70 years!

  7. Liberals are the biggest election agents for Modi. BJP literally has to do nothing, just let the liberals spew their arrogance and fake narratives. The more they talk, the greater the % of vote for Modi.

    • What do you mean “BJP literally has to do nothing”? There is no BJP! Where is it? There is only Modi! Have you heard the BJP questioning Modi on anything? NO! WHY? BECAUSE THERE IS NO BJP! Modi set out to make India “congress-mukt”, but ended up making India “BJP-mukt”!

    • You should be more worried that Mamata says Modi is an agent of Pakistan (Is Modi an envoy of Pakistan, asks Mamata), than worrying about liberals being election agents for Modi.

    • The more you talk, the more votes other parties win. Keep it up.

      Reality will catch up with the BJP (and its supporters), sooner or later. Just getting votes is not enough.

  8. Sirji this is not a liberals vs buddhus fight. There are a lot of buddhus among liberals too!

    Just evaluate what Modi is (not) doing for the people. Lot of hot air coming out every day from the government. Change here. Chop there. Just to keep the illusion of action alive.

    But if the buddhus want to keep reelecting him, nothing can be done. The same thing is happening in the US, Australia, Brazil, Philippines etc. That’s democracy for you.

  9. Fine column by Ms Irena Akbar in Indian Express, which explains why Indian Muslims have come out of their purdah of submission and restraint. Enough is enough, they are saying. We a’int going nowhere. We were born here, and the fragrant soil of this country will be our final resting place. Pakistan one doesn’t worry about. It is small potatoes, compared to the dragon, as the new Army Chief is hinting. But we need to worry about India, keeping its society harmonious and emotionally integrated. The fact that so many Hindus are standing shoulder to shoulder with Muslims in these countrywide protests – largely peaceful, except in Uttar Pradesh, where the administration is going over the top – is deeply gratifying.

    • Yes. It’s a very good sign that so many people are coming together to fight the BJP assault on a secular India.

      But as the saying goes (from Chicago), never let a crisis go waste.

      So while we have to defend the Constitution and the idea of a secular India vigorously, we also have to look at social reform.

      The Muslim world should also take the opportunity to press for internal reforms. As should the Hindus, and the Sikhs, and the Christians.

      That will be true secularism.

    • I actually feel like supporting Muslims sometime but I see Muslim women with 5 kids everyday I go for a walk and that sympathy turns into a fear of demographic change.

  10. He has feasted on the Islam is bad idea all his life. How can he change now?

    The problem is that he’s able to convince a lot of North Indian buddhus (as well as those from Karnataka) that Pakistan is the root of all of India’s problems. He thus has been elected two times.

    • Yes, call the electorate fools. That will win the liberals the next election for sure.

      (Secretly thanking liberals for their arrogance so Modi can be elected a third time. Thank you thank you, please continue doing what you are doing 🙂

    • Seems that the the rest of India is still struggling to come to the reality. You can’t fool all the people all the time. 70 years is enough

        • Thanks again dear fake liberal. Please show more of this arrogance, please help convert more fence sitters into future Modi voters. Please speak and post more ! Thank you thank you !

    • Kerala commies are not very smart either. Highest ISIS recruitment has happened under their watch. Points towards Islamic radicalism.

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