INDIA’S concocted reasons for cancelling the foreign ministers meeting in New York, rather than revealing Imran Khan’s “true face”, as the external affairs ministry statement asserted, exposed the ugly face of India’s BJP-RSS regime.
Imran Khan was charitable in alluding to Narendra Modi as a “small man” in a “big office”. The Indian prime minister’s origins as an RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) enforcer and the instigator of the massacre of 2,000 innocent Muslim children, women and men in Gujarat are well recorded. He escaped conviction for this crime through manipulation and intimidation of India’s judicial system. He secured election to India’s premiership by running a campaign of racist propaganda, false economic promises and claims to great power status.
Since assuming office, the BJP-RSS combine, not unlike the Nazis, has been on a systematic programme of coercion, intimidation and propaganda to impose racist (Hindu) supremacy in India and transform India’s 150 million Muslims, Christians and other minorities, and lower-caste Hindus, into second-class citizens.
In a press conference on Aug 30, 2018, the Indian human rights activist and author, Arundhati Roy, summed up the main features of BJP-RSS rule: the “re-Brahminisation of education”; the “lynching of Muslims” and attacks on the Adivasis and Dalits; incarceration of millions of poor people, deprived of homes; the brutal suppression of the Kashmiris; the intimidation and physical elimination of dissenting journalists, epitomised by the murder of Gauri Lankesh; the existence of a “shadowy, full-blown terror network” targeting adversaries; the dismantling of educational institutions, “falsification of history” and persecution of liberal students and student bodies; enrichment of corporations close to the BJP, such as the award of the Rafale contract to Reliance Industries; allowing capitalists, like Vijay Mallya and Nirad Modi, to decamp with “thousands of crores”; and a “regime which its own police calls fascist”.
Modi and the BJP have failed spectacularly to improve the lives of the majority of the Indian people.
‘Incredible India’, the jingle heard globally in ubiquitous TV advertisements, assumes a contrary meaning when the ‘nasty, brutish and short’ lives of the vast majority of Indians are brought to light. Some statistics: India is the most dangerous place to be born a girl. Three million girls are lost each year to infanticide; it has the highest number of
suicides; it ranks third in the number of rape cases; 60 per cent of Indians live on two dollars a day or less; 14m live in slavery; 600m practise open defecation; it is ranked as the second-most racist country and has 13 of the 20 most polluted cities.
Modi and the BJP have failed spectacularly to improve the lives of the vast majority of the Indian people. The Indian government and its pet media boast of their country’s rapid growth and the growing ranks of billionaires. These billionaires are the creatures of crony capitalism and extensive official credit, with their wealth built on the exploitation of India’s poor and deprived. India is more unequal now than ever, with islands of prosperity coexisting in an ocean of poverty and misery.
The BJP government’s failure to deliver on its tall promises of jobs and prosperity has eroded Modi’s popularity dramatically. Arundhati Roy believes this loss of popularity presages dangerous times. Modi and the BJP-RSS will try to divert attention from their failures by a “continuous circus of arrests, assassinations, lynchings, bomb attacks, false flag attacks, riots (and) pogroms”.
Some Indian analysts are convinced that Modi’s major diversion will be the intensification of tensions with Pakistan. This could be generated through ‘false flag’ terrorist attacks in occupied Kashmir or India itself, justifying nationalist hysteria and threats against Pakistan. New Delhi may even consider an actual ‘surgical strike’ across the LoC or the international border, as the Indian army chief has threatened. If they can get away with limited military ‘success’ against Pakistan, it would play extremely well with current Indian jingoism and assure a Modi/BJP electoral victory.
Yet, this would be a high-risk operation, militarily and politically. The action may not remain ‘limited’ if Pakistan retaliates forcefully and the ‘surgical strike’ escalates into a general conflict with the ever-present nuclear dimension. Politically, if an Indian incursion is visibly defeated by Pakistan, it could lead to the BJP’s defeat at the polls.
The abrupt cancellation of the foreign ministers New York meeting is an indication that India wishes to keep the escalation option open. Any engagement with Pakistan now would constrain this option. The joint statement against Pakistan-based ‘terrorist’ groups, extracted by India from the US at the 2+2 talks last month, also fits into New Delhi’s possible aggressive plans.
Despite its desire for regional cooperation, the new Pakistani government cannot afford to ignore the brewing threat from India. A determined effort is required to prevent the execution of such a strategy. Any sign of Pakistani weakness will intensify and encourage Indian belligerence. Modi is a classic bully; he feeds on weakness; he will be deterred only by strength and determination.
Pakistan should stop asking for a dialogue with India. It should launch a diplomatic and media campaign, at the UN and other international forums and major capitals, to reveal the narrow motives for India’s hostility, illustrate the threat this poses to regional and global security and secure political support for Pakistan’s positions from China and as many other countries as possible.
Second, as Clausewitz wrote: “To secure peace is to prepare for war.” Pakistan’s armed forces should enhance their readiness to deter and repel a possible Indian incursion across the LoC or the international border. It should be made clear to the US and others that any Indian military adventurism will lead to Pakistani retaliation not only on the eastern front but also against Indian-sponsored terrorist sites in Afghanistan.
Modi’s multiplying mistakes, the growing disenchantment of India’s masses and Pakistan’s resolute resistance may well combine to defeat this ugly regime at India’s 2019 polls.
The writer is a former Pakistan ambassador to the UN.
Published in Dawn, September 30th, 2018