ONCE again, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government appears bent on raising the temperature in the India-Pakistan relationship.
Once again, it is difficult to discern any wisdom or even common sense in the Indian strategy. Having travelled to Bangladesh as part of his extensive outreach to the region — an outreach that increasingly looks like Mr Modi’s attempt to try and isolate Pakistan inside Saarc — the Indian prime minister rather bizarrely harkened back to the terrible events of some 45 years ago that led to the break-up of Pakistan and boasted about the Indian role in the creation of Bangladesh.
If that were not enough, Mr Modi decided to go on to attack present-day Pakistan in the same speech in what can only be described as the most un-prime-ministerial terms.
Extraordinarily, what the Indian leader had to say about Pakistan and the history of Bangladesh were not even the most provocative of statements emanating from Indian quarters in recent days. That rather dubious honour instead goes to a junior Indian minister who suggested that the Indian cross-border raid into Myanmar in response to an attack on Indian security forces in India’s northeast late last week could be repeated on the western, ie India-Pakistan border, if necessary.
Consider the breathtaking Indian arrogance on display here, and even naked war-mongering. Mr Modi’s comments in Dhaka hearken to a dark past for all sides — Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.
To be sure, West Pakistan committed many errors and even crimes against what was then East Pakistan and there has never been any real introspection or accountability for that period here in present-day Pakistan.
Yet, Pakistan and Bangladesh managed to go on to build ties that were reasonably stable and respectful and not even remotely comparable to the almost seven-decade-old effectively failed relationship between India and Pakistan.
Is Mr Modi’s goal really to try and drive a wedge between Bangladesh and Pakistan? In any case, Pakistan’s political and diplomatic leadership have for a while now needed to urgently reach out to the Bangladeshi government of Prime Minister Hasina Wajed because of the attempt by that government to stoke tensions with Pakistan for domestic political reasons.
An India bent on meddling with an already stand-offish government in place in Bangladesh can rapidly become a much sterner diplomatic test than the Pakistani state appears to have realised until now.
The flame-throwing from the Indian side has rather predictably riled politicians here. Instead of allowing the foreign and defence ministries to respond to the Indian provocations, Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan decided to wade into the controversy created by Indian junior minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore’s allusion to cross-border raids inside Pakistan.
Meanwhile, the army leadership too has waded in with a strong statement against Indian interference yesterday. Perhaps the prime minister needs to convene his national security council to draw up a concerted, diplomatic response.
Published in Dawn, June 11th, 2015