Thursday, January 14, 2016

Modi’s Pakistan Policy 2016: A re-evaluation

Attempts to resolve Indo-Pak problems without criticism, risk and failure is like thinking about globalization where people do not have both purchasing power and the shopping habits.  

Both Pakistan and India have been preoccupied with and about each other for greater part of their respective existence as two entities since 1947. In Pakistan, foreign policy experts believe neither India nor Pakistan had planned the 1965 war. 
Contradictions in Heroism?

Notwithstanding the fact that many in India will not believe such arguments, Pakistanis presume both countries got drawn into 1965 conflict through a series of mistakes and miscalculations. Drawing parallelism – in circa 2015-16 – many said both Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi are politically powerful elements in their own rights. Despite military elder brother syndrome in Islamabad, Sharif is perhaps easily given out as one of the most powerful politicians since Muhammad Ali Jinnah. In India too, Modi is considered really in control of things.

So the entire hype about their December 25, 2015 unscheduled meeting after Modi made a stopover at Lahore is perhaps justified. But what about the criticism that Modi’s unorthodox stratagem is actually attributed to adventurism and guided by an inconsistent methodology?

“History shows that not talking to Pakistan has served no purpose,” wrote Amit Dasgupta and Krishnan Srinivasan in a joint oped-piece for The Statesman. So Modi and Sharif are in right directions.

But how does one look at the large scale criticism that PM Modi’s foreign policy towards Pakistan lacks coherence and consistency.
To examine this issue, one must start that while Pakistan need not be a long-term or even short-term friend of India, there’s no denying that it is a very important neighbour. Consistency is also an alternative terminology for playing safe.

In this context, one can easily argue – no risk no gain as change or exploring new methodologies have always paid in dividends in foreign policy and international peace order globally. Thus it must be understood that perhaps for the first time under Modi, India has embarked on a policy towards Pakistan – where it is applying carrot and stick policy persistently. Carrot – being the forward movements for parleys at various levels but with clear blessings from the Prime Minister’s Office and the ‘stick’ being the pressure build up forcing Pakistan to act on key issues. 

The Ufa statement was thus a minor victory even as Modi did not get his due.
Historically, Indian foreign policy has followed ‘four-fold methods’ – revolving around Sama, Dana, Bheda and Danda. But under Nehruvian influence and over enthusiasm to play to the western galleries – there have been dilutions in this and New Delhi’s foreign policy often remained predictable and rather ‘slavish’ following the good old path. 
Historically, Indian foreign policy has followed ‘four-fold methods’ – revolving around Sama, Dana, Bheda and Danda. But under Nehruvian influence and over enthusiasm to play to the western galleries – there have been dilutions in this and New Delhi’s foreign policy often remained predictable and rather ‘slavish’ following the good old path. 

In the new ‘verb’ exhibited by Modi – often following unprecedented roadmap – many see that an attempt has been made to revive country’s traditional standpoint vis-à-vis foreign policy. While no Indian king stepped out of India with any marital heroism to conquer others – historically ‘no war’ would not be acceptable to the Indian civilization either. 
Therefore, mandarins in South Block would these days say – peace and prosperity are preferred if accepted by the other side (in this case Pakistan), but war and run – a reference to ‘Danda’ would be taken up if compelled.

Perhaps, Modi is trying to talk to Pakistan from a position of strength and hence we had headlines screaming about so called ‘detention’ of Jaise-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar.


It is altogether a different matter that Pakistan’s words need to be taken with a pinch of salt. And rightly, New Delhi has tried to “reschedule” the Secretary level talks.
Is it not for the first time – Pakistan has been made to act in the manner it has acted like “sealing” the offices of Jaish-e-Mohammad – even if these are mere ‘cosmetic’?

Only unorthodox strategies in foreign policy in the past showed some concrete results – like Nixon visiting China and Michael Gorbachev abandoning Soviet satellite states!

It goes without saying, Diplomacy is no longer in chains as globalised economy and new social implications influence the game a lot. Dealing with Pakistan also needs a statecraft and firmness to the level of arrogance as Modi seemed to champion regardless of  the growing criticism he is subjected to. In the end everyone – especially the principal opposition Congress party – has to realize in country’s interest that Diplomacy is essentially a collective matter. More so in dealing with a complex subject like Indo-Pak.

No government can deliver in full if not there’s cooperation from stake holders like opposition parties. One only wish Nitish Kumar’s appreciation of Modi’s Lahore stop over is actually guided by geo-strategic considerations rather than a political ploy only to give some complexes to Lalu Prasad and his children.



ends  

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