No matter how educated or diplomatically polished an Indian becomes, the Hindutva jingoism, which lies just beneath the surface of his psyche, keeps popping up. In the following article Amb.Bharadkumar cavalier claim of Indian army’s hot pursuit into Pakistan is childish and laughable at best. He should read India Today, a reasonable balanced magazine about India’s defence preparedness. Numerous articles also point out to the horrible state of political infighting, among higher rank of officers in Indian Armed Forces. Amb.Bhadrakumar deliberately forgets to mention that Pakistan manufactures state of the art and cutting edge defence weaponry, since, being backstabbed by Mother India’s paramour, the Obama White House. Pakistan edge in missile technology and ability to deliver miniaturized nuclear battlefield warheads, should give India second thoughts about hot pursuit into Pakistan. This is not the Pakistan of 1971. Pakistan armed forces are almost at par with India in numbers and more advanced in battlefield electronic warfare technology. The joker in the pack is China, a reliable and brotherly ally of Pakistan. Pakistan is a strategic partner of China. China’s southern underbelly is protected by Pakistan Armed Forces. China and Pakistan are jointly developing the strategic Gwadar port, which is being coveted by both US and Russia. Gwadar Port has a multiple lane highway, which runs, along the Indus River all the way up to the Chinese province of Sinkiang. Therefore, dreaming unrealistic dreams of Akhand Bharat or invasion of Pakistan should be left to South Blocks’ Babus. It does not behoove polished diplomats, like Amb. Bharadkumar to believe in such dreams, which can turn quickly into nuclear nightmares. Unless they are smoking some crack cocaine or are on LSD!

Modi at the gates, Pakistan on alert


When I took over as the head of the Iran-Pakistan-Afghanistan Division in the Ministry of External Affairs in 1992 as the youngest ever Foreign Service officer to hold that job in South Block, the then Foreign Secretary J. N. Dixit gave me an extremely valuable piece of advice about the ABC of dealing with our hopelessly adversarial relationship with Pakistan.

Dixit with whom I had enjoyed a relationship of great mutual affection  – having also earlier worked as his deputy in Islamabad — told me, “Bhadran, whenever a tense moment arises, before taking your decision or making your recommendation to me, always sit back and calmly introspect how that situation could be appearing from a Pakistani perspective. That helps you have a sense of proportions.”

This is one just moment, I thought to myself, watching the incredible exit polls on Times Now two days back. The 2014 poll results are bound to be seen in Pakistan as a defining moment for India-Pakistan relations.

The point is, from the Pakistani viewpoint, two Indian elections, set 70 years apart, hold strange parallels –as if in the ebb and flow of the history in the subcontinent nothing really changed in these past decades in regard of the destiny of the Indian Muslim.

The election held in 1944 in ‘undivided’ Punjab in British India was also the crucial milestone in galvanizing ‘Muslim nationalism’ when the All-India Muslim League led by Mohammed Ali Jinnah trumped the Indian National Congress beyond all expectations.

Therefore, the announcement of the expulsion of the two Indian journalists posted in Pakistan cannot be accidental. It could have been foretold. Another Pakistani ‘expulsion’ stealthily walks up from the attic of my mind — expulsion of two Indian diplomats on the eve of the swearing-in of late Benazir Bhutto as prime minister after her historic win in 1993.

The common thread has been the calibrated attempt to create bad blood and scotch any attempts to open a new page in the shared political history of India-Pakistan.

In both cases, the hand of the Pakistani establishment — where I mean the military and the security agencies — is evident and for the very same reason, namely, to ensure that any incipient attempt to give a fresh start to India-Pakistan relations by the incoming political leadership is derailed at the outset by creating foul air that takes time to clear up, given the lack of mutual trust between the two capitals and the suspicions regarding each other’s dark intentions.

But the key question is why the Pakistani establishment is doing this? After all, it largely kept its word for a decade after Pervez Musharraf assured Atal Bihari Vajpayee on a ceasefire along the Line of Control.

The point is, times have changed. Modi is not Vajpayee and as I pointed out earlier in my column in Deccan Herald, Pakistan is not going to confuse the two BJP leaders.

Unlike those in our midst who may visualize Modi opting to inherit the UPA’s “four-step formula” to solve the Kashmir problem or those amongst us who keep saying that once ensconced in power, Modi is going to give the pass to the electoral pledges to abrogate Article 370 of the Indian constitution or build a Ram temple at Ayodhya or introduce Uniform Civil Code — unlike our folks, there are no lotus eaters in the GHQ in Rawalpindi.

They take the Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh [RSS] with dead seriousness. Suffice to say, as Pakistan would see it, once the BJP consolidates its grip in Uttar Pradesh by winning the next state assembly elections with a thumping majority (thanks to Amit Shah’s magic wand), the door is open for Modi to implement all the pledges that have consistently figured in the BJP manifestoes for over two decades already.

It stands to reason that the RSS will insist on the redemption of these pledges, finally, after decades of agonizing waiting. And, Modi is certainly not going to be the one to resist.

In sum, Pakistan can make out that this time it’s for real — India’s big lurch to right-wing Hindu nationalism.

Indeed, in such a scenario, the initiative slips out of the hands of the Pakistani civilian leadership to mend fences with India. The military establishment will demand total control over Pakistan’s India policies and Kashmir issue.

By the way, this also happens to mesh well with the Pakistani military’s reassertion lately in domestic politics. Alas, Modi’sremarks about Dawood Ibrahim in the heat of the election campaign only helped the tide in favor of the hardliners in Pakistan.

As Pakistan sees it, a lot of self-styled Indian experts who advocate ‘hot pursuit’ strategy toward cross-border terrorism and who apparently don’t mind waging a war or two with Pakistan so as to call its “nuclear bluff”, also happen to be ardent admirers of Modi — whether he actually encourages him or not is a different question.

Thus, all in all, the real foreign-policy challenge for Modi’s government is going to be the manner in which he handles India-Pakistan relations.

It is bound to impact the Hindu polarisation in Indian politics on the one hand and holds the potential to redraw India’s electoral map, while on the other hand, it is going to come under close international scrutiny.

As a matter of fact, the crunch times comes for India-US relations.

It goes far beyond the question of Modi’s US-visa status. The Carnegie scholar and noted ‘India hand’ in the US strategic community, Ashley Tellis  was not far off the mark when he noted earlier this week, “Were the events in Gujarat in 2002 to be repeated somewhere in India, the risks to US-Indian relations would indeed be great… his detractors have already launched furtive and not-so-furtive campaign in the US aimed at persuading official Washington to view Modi as a threat to India and to American interests.”  

Tellis becomes specific: “With a contentious personality like Modi at the helm of affairs, many Pakistan-based jihadi groups would be greatly tempted to engage in terrorist attacks in India… How a Modi government would react to such provocations is unknown.”

 Indeed, if the hardliners in Pakistan want to throw a spanner at Modi’s economic agenda on growth and development, there is no better way they could do it than by disrupting the internal security.

Unfortunately, the statements emanating from Washington on 2014 poll are being conveniently interpreted by some in India as indicative of a foreplay on the part of the Obama administration to open a dalliance with Modi.

On closer examination, however, it is apparent that the statements bear striking similarity to the Obama administration’s early reaction to the presidential election in Russia in 2012 — not a word about Vladimir Putin himself, while there was fulsome praise for the democratic process as such.

Suffice to say, the Obama administration is keeping its finger alright on the ‘reset’ button, but hasn’t actually pressed it.

Objectively speaking, the predicament of the Obama administration is that the US today is a de facto ‘regional power’ in South Asia, given its long-term military presence in Afghanistan. Secondly, the US stakes claim to “exceptionalism” and the Obama administration cannot be impervious to a Hindu-Muslim flare-up in India.

Thirdly, if India-Pakistan relations nosedive, it has grave implications for international security, since both are nuclear powers.

Having said that, the rise in India-Pakistan tensions would also give the US the perfect alibi to intensely engage the Modi regime and extract advantages out it in other areas, especially in promoting the US’ defence exports to India or in promoting US business interests in the Indian market.

In fact, on this score, there is a congruence of interests between Washington and the Indian corporate sector groups which back Modi.

All in all, therefore, the expulsion of the two Indian journalists in Islamabad (who constitute the entire Indian press corps in Pakistan) has an ominous ring about it.

At the very minimum, the military establishment in Rawalpindi has signaled that it is going to be Modi’s real interlocutor (rather than Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif).

At the same time, by ratcheting up tensions with India, Pakistan hopes to involve the US in a mediatory role, which is something that Pakistani military historically sought, and in the developing scenario it would also serve the purpose of keeping Modi — and his ‘hot pursuit’ strategy — at bay.

By M K Bhadrakumar – May 15, 2014

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