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India’s War Hysteria

India’s War Hysteria

By Arooba Hamid

In the context of neighboring countries with nuclear capabilities, the significance of rhetoric and leadership cannot be overstated. This is particularly true for the relationship between India and Pakistan, which has been characterized by tension and instability for decades. The Indian leadership’s aggressive and divisive rhetoric has been a significant contributor to this state of affairs. The lack of responsible and mature leadership in handling bilateral affairs has led to an increase in hostilities and a decrease in diplomatic engagement. The hostile behavior of Indian politicians and military leadership towards Pakistan has been highly irresponsible, with the use of bilateral affairs as a means to push their political and election campaigns. This belligerent approach has consistently tarnished the reputation of the Indian government, and instead of fostering dialogue and engagement, it has resulted in strained relations between the two countries.

The abrogation of Article 370 by the Narendra Modi’s government unilaterally, which was an illegal move of revoking the special status of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), has been a highly contentious issue in Indian politics. While the Modi’s regime argued that the August 2019 move was necessary to integrate the region more “fully” into the Indian Union and promote its development, on the other hand Shiv Sena (UBT), Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut, who is also a senior party leader, recently claimed that it was done for political gains; thus, uncovering the realities on the ground. At another place, Defence Minister Rajnath stated that the mission of full integration of Jammu and Kashmir that started on August 5, 2019 “will complete when Gilgit-Baltistan and areas of the ‘Pakistan Occupied Kashmir’ (PoK) will reunite with India.” Furthermore, in a recent column titled ‘Rokthok’, published in the Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece ‘Saamana’, Raut raised concerns about the plight of Kashmiri Pandits in the wake of the abrogation of Article 370. He pointed out that despite the move, which was supposed to bring about positive changes in the region, the Kashmiri Pandits have not yet received their due rights and are still facing significant challenges.

The Indian government’s war hysteria has been unprecedented. The Indian politicians have been frequently spewing hate against Pakistan, in an attempt to mobilize the support of the right-wing. During an event organized by traders in Rohtak, Haryana Cabinet Minister and BJP leader Kamal Gupta stated that ‘PoK’ could be integrated into India within the next two to three years. Gupta, who is also the Urban Local Bodies Minister of Haryana, claimed that India was not strong enough before 2014 but has since become stronger. He also pointed out that there are voices within PoK calling for it to become a part of India. These statements serve as an example and directly contradict the Indian leadership’s initial claims of integration. This contradiction is quite evident, as the statements reflect the Indian jingoism that does not align with the claims put forth by the leadership.

The Kashmir dispute has been a contentious and sensitive topic in Indian politics for several decades, with multiple governments and political leaders taking different approaches to address the matter. The August 2019 move by the Modi’s regime further highlighted the deep divisions within the Indian political establishment on this issue, with some supporting the move and others vehemently opposing it. The lack of political consensus on such a critical issue has significant implications for India’s internal politics and its foreign relations. It raises questions about the Indian government’s inability to address the concerns of all stakeholders.

There have been several instances in recent years where Indian politicians, media, and military officials have made comments that are critical of Pakistan, its government, its armed forces, and its policies. For example, after the Pulwama terrorist attack in February 2019, which killed 40 Indian soldiers, there was a surge in anti-Pakistan sentiment in India, with many politicians and media outlets calling for retaliation against Pakistan. While speaking at a rally in Gujarat’s Patan, Modi said, “When Abhinandan was captured by Pakistan, I said to Pakistan that if anything happens to our pilot, we will not leave you.” The Indian politico-military leadership’s approach, the divisive rhetoric and aggressive posturing are undermining the world’s so-called largest democracy’s social fabric. The Indian government’s focus on nationalism and communalism is diverting attention from more pressing issues facing the country, such as poverty, unemployment, and social inequality. It also poses a significant risk to regional and global security, given that Jammu and Kashmir has been the reason for three wars between India and Pakistan and remains a potential nuclear flashpoint.

The inability of India’s political leadership to find common ground for the resolution of the bilateral issues exacerbate tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbors and further destabilize the region. The need for responsible leadership and mature diplomacy cannot be overstated, especially given the potential consequences of a conflict between two nuclear powers. Only through responsible leadership and sustained diplomatic efforts, can a peaceful resolution be achieved and the potential for conflict and instability in the region be minimized.

The writer is a Lahore-based independent researcher.


*Opinions expressed in this article are the writer's own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of The South Asia Times 

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