S Qamar Afzal Rizvi
WHAT must be a grave concern for the South Asian citizenry that instead of striving for a diplomatic discourse towards Pakistan, Modi’s government is pursuing a policy of brinkmanship which by no means tends to be a sign of visionary statesmanship at the part of the Indian premier, rather it exacerbates the course of tension between the two nuclear neighbors. Modi’s foreign policy doctrine, an RSS nurtured Hindutva ideology, represents hyperrealism towards Pakistan.
Academically, India’s strategic culture borrows its ideological leanings from six distinct Indian foreign policy schools. Of these schools – generally described as Nehruvian, neoliberal, hyperrealist, Hindutva, Gandhian and Marxist. Yet given the juxtaposition, only two schools, Hindutva and Hyper-realist seem to have dominated Modi’s hard power policy towards Pakistan that is based on the post-truth orientation. The rest of them are either indifferent or openly hostile to the idea to follow in the footsteps of empires and hegemons. Modi’s hyper-realism as regard to Pakistan is evident from: India’s violations along LoC; India’s Kashmir policy; India’s pursuit of a limited war/Cold Start; Modi’s hydro-politics on IWT; his escape from diplomatic recourse towards Pakistan; and his dismantling of Saarc.
From a peace perspective, Modi’s Pakistan policy is under fire: not to adopt a policy of military-cum-nuclear restraint—sustained by a search of diplomatic solution of the Kashmir crisis thereby maintaining a peaceful and friendly relationship with Pakistan. Modi’s stalemate continues. Both the Hindutva and hyperrealist schools — orchestrate Modi’s right wing foreign policy — are cut largely from realist cloth. The Hindutva hardliners have minimal interest in global affairs, being much more concerned with India’s ethnocentric culture. Modi spends much time courting the BJP’s extremists whose narrow vision is imbibed with animosity and belligerence towards Pakistan. During the past two months India have committed more than 200 violations along the LOC. The Indian BSF have been hitting the civil population residing in the closed vicinities of LOC. The targeting of a passenger Bus and a medical ambulance in Azad Kashmir are the worst set examples in this regard.
Needless to say that the Modi government pays no regard to the human rights in Kashmir. The sane elements of the Indian civil society in India and the Indian occupied Kashmir have urged New Delhi to recognize Kashmir as a dispute and accept that its resolution can only come through political means and not through military intervention and suppression of all human and democratic rights of the Kashmiri people. “We also call upon all Indian citizens to recognize that the actions of the Indian state in the Kashmir valley are far away from the values of a democratic republic and beyond the pale by any acceptable norms of a civilized society in the 21st century”. But Modi’s government adopts a policy of continuous denial to this truth. Dismaying to the Indian hope that, despite RSS’ conspiracy to create horizontal and vertical polarization in body politic of the Hurriyat Conference, Kashmiris are yet united.
Ideologically, therefore, India under Modi is not predisposed to take up a truly global role. It is notable Modi is not interested in receiving a permanent seat at the UN Security Council. While he defends the official position that India is vying for such a seat, he is privately dismissive of it. Modi did not even include a permanent seat in his election manifesto. Modi’s professed Hindutva doctrine limits his vision to the subcontinent and, at best, a few countries in the region.
The hyperrealists have a restricted nationalist agenda: focusing on a strong economy, a strong military and such icons— of hard power as a nuclear arsenal— skip any real multilateral concerns. Surely, whilst Indian hyperrealists might use external forces to justify the escalation of a conflict, Nehruvianists would try to reach a consensus, and neoliberals would resolve issues from pragmatic (economic) point of view as seen from India’s propensity towards Brics. But sadly enough, Modi has undermined scope of Saarc. Ironically India’s thinking regarding CPEC is non-academic and unrealistic since CPEC leads to a prosperous economics in region. Modi’s hyperrealist agenda is focused on attracting American nuclear energy programmes, Russian weapons, modernization programs and, generally, a wide range of military cooperation.
Clearly this notion is tantamount to making a travesty of peace in South Asia. Is not Narendra Modi government’s anti-Pakistan policy is aimed at pressurizing Pakistan to withdraw its support for the Kashmir cause? Should not the BJP’s leadership be remindful of the fact that this kind of blackmailing may not deter Pakistan’s unwavering resolve to support Kashmiris for their right of self-determination? Should not premier Modi realize that on Kashmir he has no better option than to follow Atal Biharivajpayee’s diplomatic manifestation of discovering a conflict resolution of the Kashmir dispute? Can the two nuclear neighbours afford to prolong a belligerent course?— of course not! As for Pakistan, Islamabad has tried its utmost to propose peace measures including a bilateral nuclear restraint in South Asia. But New Delhi’s response remains not positive. India’s non-diplomatic behaviour shown to Pakistan’s advisor on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz on eve of Heart of Asia Conference is highly deplorable.
It is high time for India to reconsider its strategies. The former National Security Adviser, Shivshankar Menon, believes that it is important to develop a new “vocabulary” and concepts to resolve 19th century issues. Indian policies are in clear negations of this precept. Modi demonstrates India’s arbitrary and hegemonic attitude in the region. Kabul-New Delhi nexus against Pakistan is reflective of this motive. However it is untrue that Washington’s new administration will change its Pakistan policy on India’s direction- as reflected by Trump’s seemingly objective outlook towards Pakistan. Both China and Russia already support Pakistan. Under the present geostrategic culture, Modi’s hyper-realism of zero-sum-game is an outfit option because it is an antithesis of peace. Therefore, New Delhi must devise its Pakistan policy on the line of peaceful coexistence which is only possible when India offers a comprehensive dialogue on Kashmir. What India needs today is not a Hindutva-projected foreign policy but a Nehruvian-advocated global approach towards peace.
— The writer is an independent ‘IR’ researcher based in Karachi.