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June 2019 Edition of Power Politics is updated.    Wishing You All a Happy New Year.       June 2019 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:June' 2019

NUCLEAR BLACKMAIL

Modi calls Pakistani bluff

Malladi Rama Rao

Imran Khan and Narendra Modi While seeking a second term in the five - month long gruelling Indian ballot Narendra Modi was as much an object of curiosity as ridicule for the Pakistani media. Curiosity is understandable because unlike in India, in Pakistan, Prime Ministers are anointed by the deep state and the electorate only goes through the motions of putting their imprimatur. Present incumbent in Islamabad, Imran Khan has come up through such a process as the editorials and opposition leaders keep reminding 19.7 crore Pakistanis every day.
Pakistan was not a talking point as such in the Indian elections though security and terrorism were amongst the campaign themes. Because these twin issues are linked to India’s bilateral ties with Pakistan, the land of the pure, as Pakistanis describe their country that was carved out of British India in 1947, found a mention on the campaign trail. The context was jihadi terrorism originating from Pakistani soil and Pakistan’s nuclear bluff as the Indians love to term Pakistan’s penchant to harp on its N capability to stymie the Indian stride.

Every time Modi made a reference to either of these two issues, Pakistan loved to give him a ‘shut up’ call. Like The Nation of Lahore did on 23 April. “Pakistan Monday (April 22) slammed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for whipping up war hysteria”, a dispatch by its celebrated journalist, Shafqat Ali, said (https://nation.com.pk/E-Paper/islamabad/2019-04- 23/page-3/detail-4). What made Modi earn Pakistan’s wrath? His remarks on India’s nuclear capability.

Addressing election rallies in the desert districts of Rajasthan that border Pakistan, Modi remarked that India has stopped getting scared of Pakistan threats. India too has nuclear weapons, is capable of using it and haven’t kept them aside for ‘Diwali (a festival when crackers are burst heralding the victory of good over evil), he said.

Let me get the direct quote from Modi-speak to put the issue in a more clear perspective.

“India has stopped the policy of getting scared of Pakistan's threats. Every other day they used to say we have nuclear button, we have nuclear button. What do we have then? Have we kept it for Diwali?” Narendra Modi said at the rally.

Pulwama Attack 2019 This Modi-speak was a direct dig at Pakistan’s threat of using the nuclear weapons after India’s airstrike on a terrorist camp deep inside Pakistani territory on 26 Feb. The camp belonged to terrorist group, Jaish-eMuhammad (JeM), which is active in the Kashmir valley.
The provocation for the Indian airstrike was JeM’s attack on a convoy of security personnel at Pulwama on the Jammu - Srinagar Highway on 14 Feb. The attack resulted in the death of 46 Central Reserve Police Force personnel, who were returning for duty after home leave.

The Nation’s dispatch omitted the context of Modispeak. So did most other dailies published from Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad. The Pakistani media deserves no blame. Because, the report was based on what the Foreign Office spokesman Dr Mohammed Faisal had stated by way of his reaction.

Faisal is a seasoned diplomat. That he deemed it fair and proper to react to Indian Prime Minister’s remarks means that he was fully seized of the nuances of the issue. Well, what did he say?

For the Pakistani leadership and the media, Modi is a war monger. Like sections of the Indian opposition, they accuse him of whipping up war hysteria to win a second term.

“Pakistan considers these remarks as highly unfortunate and irresponsible. Such rhetoric for short-term political and electoral gains, with complete disregard to its effects on strategic stability in South Asia is regrettable and against norms of responsible nuclear behaviour,” Faisal was quoted as saying. He made no reference to Pakistani N-hype which had provoked the Indian leader at the outset. Yet he went on to assert that “such nuclear brinksmanship needs to be discouraged” in the interest of the region.

Whether they are right or wrong is not germane to our discussion but the fact that India-Pak relations have become a victim of misplaced paronia pump primed by the deep state from its Rawalpindi perch.

When it comes to ‘pulling up’ India, Pakistan does not appear to be out of its depth. In poetry, any and every issue is said to be a good enough subject provided there is passion laced with emotion. So is India hatred for Pakistan. The discourse ranges from the sublime to the absurd, as I found out this in recent weeks. Indian media is no different in some respects but that is a different issue.

On 18 April, India suspended barter trade across the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir, which has been taking place for over a decade as a Confidence Building Measure (CBM). It was a unilateral decision that came without notice. Pakistan was expectedly upset, and started fretting and fuming. The trade takes place at two crossing pointsChakothi-Uri and Tetrinote-Chakan da Bagh.

It is not for the first time that India has suspended the cross LoC trade. It did so a couple of times in the past on the grounds that Pakistani side was exploiting the trade convoy to export terror to India.

India-Pak relations have become a victim of misplaced paronia pump primed by the deep state from its Rawalpindi perch.

According to a notification issued in New Delhi on 18 April, “The Government of India has received reports that cross-LoC trade routes in Jammu and Kashmir are being misused by Pakistan-based elements. This misuse involves inflows of illegal weapons, narcotics and currency.” Indian defence ministry also stated: “The LoC trade mechanism is being suspended pending putting into place of a stricter regulatory regime. This is to ensure that only bonafide trade takes place for the benefit of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, through this mechanism.”

Pakistan deplored Indian action. The Foreign Office statement, as reported in Dawn (https://www.dawn.com/news/147 7529) was high on rhetoric. It shied away from biting India. Surprising indeed this is because, India has gifted Pakistan a perfect case to rebrand its image. And the failure gives currency to the adage “dal mein kuchkaala hai”. Translated literally, the phrase means“something is fishy.” I rest my case.