By G Ramachandram
March 7, 2019
Following the invite to India to attend the 50th anniversary plenary session of the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s address, Modi government claimed a diplomatic coup against Pakistan that the previous governments failed to achieve in 50 years. Since then, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah tom-tommed the achievement at every political rally and claimed credit for isolating Pakistan at the OIC-comprising 57 countries.
However, the euphoria has turned out to be misplaced. The OIC passed a resolution on March 2, condemning “in the strongest possible terms recent wave of Indian terrorism in occupied Jammu and Kashmir that has resulted in the deaths of 48 people in the month of November alone, making 2018 one of the deadliest years…“ even holding the Indian security forces responsible for killing Hizbul Commander Burhan Wani in 2016.
This is clearly the agenda of Pakistan. It is an extremely disturbing development. J&K is called a territory occupied by India (equating with POK), virtually dubbing it a terrorist state. Unlike in the past, the presence of Indian Foreign Minister at the OIC preliminary session has legitimised the OIC — a reality which India has to live with.
It was a diplomatic faux pas on the part of Indian government to have accepted the invitation to attend the OIC? The Kashmir issue is now internalised and India has opened a window for a third party mediation, undermining the Shimla and Lahore accords that underline the issue as bilateral to be resolved between the two countries.
The IAF strike of at the JeM camp in Balakot across the LOC, allegedly killing some 300-350 terrorists, was applauded in one voice across the country. Modi, Amit Shah and their party launched a political campaign around the air strike. On February 27, 21 opposition political parties have met and praised the armed forces for their valor and bravery, However, they expressed deep anguish over the ruling party’s “blatant politicisation of the sacrifices made by Indian armed forces” and urged the government to change its narrative of hyper-nationalistic jingoism.
The former PM Manmohan Singh said the country is “grapping with another crisis of mad rush, of mutual self destruction. Our basic problem is to get rid of chronic poverty, ignorance and disease which still afflict millions and millions of citizens in our two countries.”
Addressing a public rally at Patna on March 3, Modi has unwittingly resurrected the debate about the Rafale jet deal. He said the results of the air strike at Balakot would have been different if India had the Rafale aircrafts and accused the UPA government for delaying their procurement, raising suspicion about the claims.
The Opposition Congress was quick to react and held Modi responsible for the delay in procuring the French fighter jets. “Had he not cancelled the contract and earlier negotiations to accommodate his own cronies, the Rafale jets would have come by now.
”Modi repeated the charge against the UPA at India Today conclave. The government is blaming the Opposition for politicising the air strike. But the facts tell a different story. While the Congress cancelled its CWC meeting and public rallies, following the capture of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh continued with their political programmes.
They didn’t cancel even the political programme with the party booth workers. Arun Jaitley says “statements by opposition parties hurt India’s national interest. They give smiles to Pakistan and become an instrument in its hands to discredit India’s operation against terrorism.”
However, neither he nor the BJP leadership has condemned Karnataka BJP Chief B Yeddyurappa statement that “India’s pre-emptive strikes on terror camps in Pakistan has created a wave and will help the party win over 22 of 28 sets in the state in the coming Lok Sabha polls,” which Pakistan establishment used widely for its propaganda to project that the war hysteria in India is created to derive political dividends at the general election.
Modi has not called an all party meeting to reach a national consensus on such a national security issue. He thinks he is invincible and infallible and does not need to take the opposition into confidence. Any question about the details of the strike or the number of causalities is dubbed as anti-national, amounting to discrediting the valour of armed forces. This is a strange situation in an open society having constitutional democracy.
How does one conclude the number of casualties when no spokesperson from MOD and MEA was willing to share any information? The Union Minister S.A Ahluwalia said, “the purpose of the strike was not to inflict human casualty but to send out a message that India is capable of hitting deeper inside enemy lines…it was media which had discussed unverified figures…I want to ask if Modiji or any government spokesperson or our party President Amit Shah has put out any figures.” Surprisingly, Amit Shah said in Ahmedbad on March 3 that “more than 250 terrorists were killed in the air strike in Balakot.”
In all this political slugfest, the real issues facing the Kashmir and its people are pushed to the backburner. As Ashutosh Varsheny says”By relying heavily on coercion and thereby intensifying Kashmir alienation, the Modi government has wasted the political advances made in Kashmir by Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh.”The nation has witnessed the worst terrorist attack since the insurgency started in J&K in 1989.
The suicide bomber Adil Ahmed Dar-a local school dropout-rammed the vehicle carrying more than 350kg explosives into a CRPF convoy, killing 40 jawans. How could such an attack take place in a highly sanitized security zone? It is a failure of the security and intelligence agencies.
The number of youths joining the ranks of militancy and taking to arms has increased from 66 in 2015 to 164 in October 2018. It is important to find out what is driving these young people to join the ranks of militants and terrorists. Our inapt handing of the problem is responsible for the current chain of unabated terrorist attacks and bleeding in the Kashmir valley.
G Ramachandram is a professor of Political Science, retired principal and an independent author.