HOW MODI’S PAKISTAN POLICY CHANGED SINCE HIS FIRST INDEPENDENCE DAY SPEECH

The article originally appeared on DailyO.

“I went to Bhutan, Nepal; all the dignitaries from SAARC countries took part in oath-taking ceremony; this marked a good beginning. This will definitely yield good results, it is my belief and this thinking of India, in the country and the world, that we want to do well to the countrymen and be useful for the welfare of the world, India wants such a hand to be extended (sic). We are trying to move forward with these dreams to achieve them.”

This is what Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said about his foreign policy priorities while delivering his first Independence Day speech on August 15, 2014. The words clearly told of a foreign policy vision that was taking shape and the thought of taking along your immediate neighbourhood seemed the immediate concern.

And when we talk about India’s foreign policy in its immediate neighbourhood, the first thought obviously goes to Pakistan with whom we have had a relation of more lows and very few highs since our independence in 1947.

So when Modi invited Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif, along with other SAARC leaders to his oath taking ceremony on May 26, 2014 and Sharif warmly responded to it, bypassing any chance meeting with Kashmir’s separatist leaders, Modi received almost universal praise for his bold initiative to write a new script in India-Pakistan ties.

Modi certainly thought to give dialogue with Pakistan another chance under his charge in spite of the track record of Pakistan’s backstabbing.

The initiative seemed to work and a personal rapport developed between Modi and Sharif. There were exchanges of mangoes, sarees and talks between officials. It seemed some breakthrough development was in the offing.

Though there were many letdowns like ceasefire violaThat was the case till the Pathankot terror attack in January, 2016. He did not mention his SAARC initiative and his policy on India’s immediate neighbourhood and Pakistan in his second Independence Day speech from the Red Fort on August 15, 2015.

He committed a foreign policy coup with an unscheduled visit to Lahore to meet and greet Sharif on his birthday on December 25, 2016.

It was appreciated by the policymakers the world over as an innovative approach to take on the lingering coldness and hostility in India-Pakistan ties. And even after the Pathankot attack, this warm gesture continued as reflected in the easy access given to the probe team from Pakistan that had come to India to verify the “Indian allegations” that Maulana Masood Azhar and the Jaish-e-Mohammed were behind the attack.tions, cross-border firings, Pakistan’s high commissioner Abdul Basit’s insistence on meeting with the Kashmir separatists, and the rants on Kashmir by different Pakistani leaders, itBut things started deteriorating after it. There were conflicting reports that Pakistan had dismissed the evidence given by India. Though it has never officially been confirmed, we can say it is going to be yet another sham like the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks probe in Pakistan.

Pakistan has not responded to India’s requests to allow its probe team to visit Pakistan. The neighbouring country, in fact, has never sounded serious about probing the incident. On the issue of India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Pakistan, along with China, brought together a group of countries that scuttled India’s chances.

Meanwhile, Pakistan has again ratcheted up its Kashmir-rant, especially after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani’s killing in an encounter. Much to India’s (and Modi’s disappointment), Sharif and Pakistan have declared Burhan a martyr and funeral processions are being held there.

And like never before, wanted terrorists like Hafiz Saeed and Syed Salahuddin are dictating terms, threatening India openly of dire consequences. It all, it seems, has made Modi uncomfortable enough to finally abandon his Pakistan policy that he had initiated two years back. It seems he has finally run out of patience. After two years of that initiative, we can now say that Modi’s efforts have proved futile.

Its first indications were seen when Modi justified his Pakistan policy by saying that owing to his efforts to reach out, the world was now clearly seeing through Pakistan’s sham and Pakistan was finding it hard to justify its stand on global platforms.

And on Monday (August 15), it became clearly visible when Modi took on Pakistan left, right and centre in his third Independence Day speech. During his over-90 minute speech on Monday, Modi connected threads to his first Independence Day speech by saying that he had proposed a common vision for India and its neighbours to unite and fight together the common enemy of poverty.

He clearly named Pakistan on Monday and detailed on how it promotes terrorism and how the world is now seeing through its tactics. He drew effective parallels with India’s sensitive response on the terror strike on the Army school in Peshawar in December 2014 and on Pakistan’s backstabbing, and doublespeak on promoting terror and fuelling unrest in Jammu and Kashmir.

How detached Modi has become from his Pakistan policy that he had envisioned in May 2014 becomes clear from the fact that he is now trying to put the ball in Pakistan’s court by talking openly on Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) and Balochistan as he did on Sunday (August 14) and Monday.

On Sunday, during an all party meet on Jammu and Kashmir, he said, “Now the time has come that Pakistan shall have to answer to the world for the atrocities committed by it against the people in Balochistan and PoK.”

On Monday again, during his Independence Day address, he very categorically mentioned Balochistan, Gilgit and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, thanking their people to reach out to India against Pakistan’s atrocities. This stand has come after two years of trial and error and we can say it is now going to define Modi’s Pakistan policy. seemed Modi was still hopeful. He never sounded overtly critical of Pakistan and used his words carefully even if his silence on Pakistan sponsored terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of India became a national talking point.

©SantoshChaubey

A TRYST WITH POLITICS: AFTER 67 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

Yes, it cannot be compared and it is nowhere near to the history-defining moment of 1947 when Jawahal Lal Nehru delivered the epoch-making midnight ‘Tryst with Destiny’ speech 67 years ago on India’s first Independence Day.

It is another history-defining aspect of India, Indian politics and Indian democracy that Jawahar Lal Nehru’s run as India’s first prime minister that continued for many years went on to establish a political dynasty in India, something that should never have been the case.

Remember, the Mahatma, the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi had said to wind up the Indian National Congress in 1948 – “My suggestion is that, in so far as the Congress was intended solely to achieve Swaraj and that purpose has been gained – though I do not think what we have gained is full and real Swaraj – this organisation should be wound up, and that we should put to use all the energies of the country.”

Yes, that should never be the case. We cannot undo the past but we can think of the future based the day now. And we can hope so with a prime minister who has no family and who has willingly and honestly kept his separated wife (with mutual consent and in harmony) and his extended family away from any possibility of political patronage.

And the tryst with politics this year on the Indian Independence Day was about this man only and the sort of political changes that India has seen with him after the results of the Lok Sabha elections 2014 were declared on May 16, 2014 giving an absolute and overwhelming majority to a non-Congress party since the Independence in 1947.

The other time when a non-Congress political outfit had got clear majority on its own was in 1977, the watershed elections after the Emergency that sent Indira Gandhi packing, but the 295 seats of the BLD (Bharatiya Lok Dal) also included some 28 seats won by Jagjivan Ram’s Congress for Democracy (CFD). Janata Party had contested the election on BLD’s symbol and in alliance with CFD. And that makes the BJP (Bhartiya Janata Party) tally of 280 on its own in this election the largest ever for a non-Congress political party.

And that person played the central role in it. His intense campaigning, his direct approach and highly commendable and successful governance record coupled with his nationalist and pro-Hindutva branding, aided superbly by the sky-high anti-incumbency against the Congress-led Manmohan Singh government pushed the BJP from some expected 200-220 mark to 280 seats in the final tally.

No one had expected so, not when no single party had been able to win clear majority after the 1984 elections, not even Congress.

And the political tryst this year has made that possible. The turn of political events this year has given the world’s largest democracy a prime minister in Narendra Modi who began his life from the weakest socioeconomic layer of the Indian society, worked hard, rose steadily and gradually and ousted the most powerful political dynasty of the country from the seat of power. It was an impressive win and a humiliating defeat.

A required tryst in Indian politics after 67 years of Independence! Hope it delivers.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

INDIA, THE POSITIVELY ORIENTED DEMOCRATIC EXPERIMENT

Yes, its governance is still in experimental phase with some pretty rough hands given the charge to run the social laboratory.

Yes, its democracy needs much more to be called a democracy envisioned in its Constitution.

But, we cannot deny, that in spite of all its weak points and all its failures, it is still a functional democracy, even after 67 years of independence and is moving ahead with its democratic experiment.

We cannot deny that the movement of this democracy is positively oriented. Yes, voices are crushed and manipulated. But voices are also raised.

Look around for democracy in the global geopolitics. Look around for democracy in countries that have been ruled by foreign powers or have colonies of the western nations.

The slate is so badly crisscrossed that it becomes too hard to find even a single satisfying example. Yes, the subjective interpretations may come with some names but that would be akin to comparing the foreign rule in America with that in India.

India, one of the culturally most diversified countries, with many languages and dialects and with many religions, castes and sects is still a homogeneous democracy, even after 67 years of an independence that came with one of the worst religious riots the humankind has ever seen.

It is the positive orientation of the democracy only that a person from the weakest socioeconomic section of the society can uproot a political dynasty that has ruled the country for the most of its independent history with an overwhelming public support.

And we are from this functionally-moving-ahead democracy. We are from this independent country that has been able to this stage of its democratic experiment.

And following its Constitution, we are free to voice our opinions. We are free to choose what we should be. We are free to choose who we are going to follow.

Yes, circumstances do affect and force to make choices, but we also have the space to fight back. A Red Fort Independence Day Speech by Narendra Modi once again proves it.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/