Narendra Modi’s hateful and divisive political stunt seems to have back-fired
It’s not the first time that India and Pakistan have been at the verge of a deadly conflict. The two countries have waged two wars since their independence from Britain over the Kashmir dispute and have been engaged in several armed skirmishes over the years. What is different in the aftermath of Pulwama is the blatant exposure of anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan rhetoric at institutional and societal levels in India. The toxic narratives of hate and division dominate almost all elements within the wider Indian society and even certain Indian artists came out cheering for an attack on Pakistan.
India, the home of 172 Million Muslims, seems to have been reduced to a Hindu state, as envisioned by Modi and his BJP. Soon after the Pulwama attack, innocent Kashmiris were targeted in various states of India at colleges, universities, hostels and residences; they were harassed by mobs calling them traitors and terrorists.
Since the BJP came into power, there has been a steep rise in anti-Muslim attacks committed by Hindu nationalist groups and their supporters in India The world silently observed how Modi’s government targeted Muslims in India: Millions of Muslims in Assam were stripped of their citizenship after being branded ‘illegal immigrants’; the deportation of Rohingya Muslim refugees; the lynching of Muslims on suspicion of eating beef; and the approval of amendments in the Citizenship Rights Bill by the lower house of parliament seeking citizenships rights to only ‘non-Muslim immigrants’.
At the core of all this is the Kashmir issue and anti-Pakistan sentiments. Long before Pulwama attacks, it was already believed by some experts that Modi’s 2019 re-election campaign would centre on Kashmir and his harsh stance against Pakistan. Startfor, an American geopolitical intelligence platform, stated last year that “On his re-election campaign, Modi will emphasise ‘security over dialogue’ in his approach to the conflict in Jammu and Kashmir and thus there will probably be an increase of violence between the insurgency and the Indian armed forces in the Kashmir valley.” In terms of engaging with Pakistan, Startfor predicted that “the relationship between nuclear arch-rivals Indian and Pakistan will remain tense and unmoving until at least after the May, 2019 elections.”
Pakistan, in the recent crisis, has emerged the diplomatic winner, after unconditionally releasing the Indian fighter pilot
There is no denying of the fact that the Kashmir movement has reached its peak, and incidents like Pulwama, no matter how tragic they are, are becoming increasingly inevitable in conflict-riddled zones. Sadly, innocent lives are lost because of flawed political decisions. The manner in which the events are unfolding makes one wonder how precise predictions were about Modi’s government’s stance on the Kashmir dispute and the relationship with Pakistan prior to the general election.
Meanwhile, the warmongering approach of the Indian Media is playing a central role in creating war hysteria and promoting anti-Pakistan narratives. This malicious and irrational campaign, which seems only to intensify, has had a huge impact on common Indians, with large swathes of the population endorsing the hyper-nationalist stance of BJP, despite it lacking any sense and logic. Today, the fight between Indians and Pakistanis is not limited to the skies; they are also waging a war on social media websites, demonstrating the pervasiveness of Modi’s divisive politics.
Once again, the Kashmiris bear the brunt of this conflict, while, in place of a resolution to the long-standing dispute, the violation of the basic rights of Kashmiris continues as Indian politicians utilise the conflict as a political tool.
Ultimately, any peaceful solution for the Kashmir dispute is antithetical to the entire political career of Modi. The last hope for finding a political solution in Kashmir was his party’s political alliance with a regional faction in Jammu and Kashmir, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). In order to gain more control of the Kashmir Valley, last year the BJP pulled out of their three-year-long political alliance with the PDP. Consequently, the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti, resigned saying, “the muscular policy (of BJP) will not work in Kashmir.”
Pakistan, in the recent crisis, has emerged the diplomatic winner, after unconditionally releasing the Indian fighter pilot, Abhinandan, who was captured after his plane was shot down in Pakistan-Administered Kashmir. Pakistan has also reaffirmed its desire for a negotiated settlement of the conflict. However, Modi’s unwillingness to engage with a diplomatic solution reinforces the notion that the Kashmir conflict is central to his re-election campaign, and thus he won’t be seeking a peaceful outcome any time soon.
Narendra Modi’s hateful and divisive political stunt seems to have back-fired. Aspects of Indian society seem unwilling to endorse his sinister political agenda and are abhorred by the prospect of war. His ill-thought-out airstrikes inside Pakistan in the aftermath of Pulwama attack have caused him great embarrassment at both a national and international level. Moreover, the world is now more interested in uncovering the Indian state-sponsored atrocities in Jammu and Kashmr; as Arundhato Roy, an Indian author and human rights activist, rightly mentioned: “By deploying the IAF, Narendra Modi has ensured that Kashmir is conclusively internationalised.”