India’s cancellation of the scheduled meeting between Shah Mahmood and Sushma Swaraj hardly comes as a surprise. For the Indians to walk away from dialogue is nothing new. Neither are the absurd reasons given for the cancellation of the meet. When the Indians don’t want to talk, they will fabricate excuses, no matter how bizarre they seem, to refuse participation in a peace process. And as always, the real reasons are different from what is publicly uttered by Indian officials. In this case, the real problem was domestic politics that had nothing to do with Pakistan. The Indian Prime Minister was under fire from within the BJP for accepting the offer of peace talks from PM Imran Khan at a time when the country is heading for an election. BJP primarily relies on the anti-Pakistan and anti-Muslim vote for success in the elections.
Therefore, for Modi and his BJP fanatics to be seen as engaging in peace talks with Pakistan ahead of the elections may not be a good strategy after all. The Prime Minister is also caught in a corruption scandal over Rafale jets deal. Attention needed to be diverted somewhere else. As usual Modi played the anti-Pakistan card. Anti-Pakistan sentiment in India has hiked during Modi’s rule. In fact, anti-Pakistan propaganda and hatred against minorities, particularly the Muslims, have been the hallmarks of Modi’s reign as Prime Minister. The BJP/RSS have perpetrated numerous crimes against the minorities. Forced conversions of minorities to Hinduism has been widely reported by the media. Violence against Muslims has increased. In addition, the Hindutva pundits are rewriting Indian history to project a false Hindu narrative. These fanatics are poisoning the school textbooks with hatred against Muslims. The Indian media continues to bombard their public with fabricated and hate- filled stories against Pakistan. And terrorists like Naval Commander Kulbushan Yadav provide the practical manifestation of India’s agenda against its neighbors. And now we have the Indian army chief making preposterous statements to deflect international pressure from the atrocities his rouge army is committing in Kashmir.
While highlighting the crimes perpetrated by Indian forces in the valley, the UN report on Kashmir has also made it clear that the freedom movement in Indian Occupied Kashmir is indigenous and not instigated by Pakistan. Bipin Rawat’s warning to Pak army and his threat of launching another surgical strike may well have been ordered by the Prime Minister himself. Yet, no matter how politically productive these statements might be for BJP’s prospects of success in the upcoming election, they certainly do not bode well for peace between the two neighbors. Imran Khan will be more circumspect to say the least and advisably so in holding out an olive branch to India in near future. The Indian PM’s bid for cheap popularity by escalating tensions with Pakistan is not only unbecoming of the office he holds but has also damaged the prospects of peace and normalization of ties with Islamabad. PM Imran Khan was keen on restarting the stalled dialogue between the two countries. In fact, all governments in Pakistan have tried to impress upon New Delhi the importance of dialogue and peaceful settlement of all issues.
However, India has never reciprocated the offers of peace from Pakistan. And under Modi, India has gone a long way to shatter any hopes of peace. The decision to cancel the Foreign Ministers’ meeting was announced on World Peace Day, an act despicable in itself and illustrative of India’s parochial mindset. But then let’s not forget what Pakistan’s PM had to say about leaders like Modi whom he referred to as ‘small men occupying big offices. ’ Modi’s decisions on the international as well as the domestic front continue to highlight his narrow vision. He appears to be completely incapacitated by his hatred against Muslims to see the ‘larger picture’. Last year, PM Modi nominated Yogi Adityanath to become the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh- a state with a large Muslim population. Adityanath is a notorious Hindu extremist. He founded the Hindu Yuva Vahini, a militia responsible for violence against minorities.
The monk’s appointment as UP’s Chief Minister clearly reflects the principles and prejudices guiding PM Modi in his decision-making. It is also an ominous sign of where India is headed for. But so is Narendra Modi’s election as Prime Minister of a country that prides itself on secularism. It may be painful to see a country’s Prime Minister carrying out systematic annihilation of its minorities when he should be the one taking responsibility for their security and safety. But what more can you expect from a man whose entire life reeks of bigotry and fanaticism. And more alarmingly, what more can you expect from a people who continue to elect such radicals as their leaders. Perhaps, the only good that Modi has done so far is expose the hypocrisy of Indian secularism. The world is now convinced that secularism in the Indian context is a euphemism for fanaticism and Hindu fascism.