As the election race reaches the finish line in India, a harsh policy towards Pakistan can come handy. Modi recently promised that he will bring back the Indian fugitive, Dawood Ibrahim, from Pakistan. Our Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar called this statement “irresponsible and shameful.” The foreign office denounced it as an attempt to win elections by exploiting anti-Pakistan sentiments.

Though the BJP’s manifesto does not officially name Pakistan as an enemy and promises to maintain “friendly relations” in the neighborhood, it does add that “where required we will not hesitate from taking a strong stand and steps.” If this rhetoric continues once Modi is in power, what will happen to PML-N’s “peace and trade” policy with India? On these shores, the Chief of Army Staff in his GHQ speech on Wednesday stated that Kashmir is Pakistan’s “jugular vein” and the Chief of Jamaat-e-Islami, Siraj-ul-Haq reaffirmed it in the morning. Meanwhile, polling took place in Srinagar and Jammu Kashmir today and the Indian troops of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) did not allow many journalists into the polling stations. Curfew was imposed, one person was killed and two days before the election, AFP reported that at least 500 residents were detained. The discourse for peace will surely narrow down with conservative parties in power in both the countries. There will be little change in a Kashmiri’s plight. And of course, there is always the looming threat of another 26/11. What then?

Modi’s supporters justify his hard line on Pakistan as a pre-election manoeuvre. The BJP manifesto refrains from inflammatory rhetoric and it would be unfair to judge Modi solely on his domestic Indian politics. His predecessor, Vajpayee was a “Hindu nationalist” who visited Pakistan twice and struggled for peace between the two countries. However, it seems unlikely that his tenor will take a 180 degrees shift once in office.

The noose around the PML-N’s neck has been tightened after the Musharraf trial (or the lack of it) as well as the recent incident involving a media house and allegations against the ISI. Their policy has been frequently attacked and the term “Indian agent” has been used for those seeking cordial ties between the two neighbours. If this continues, will the PML-N move back towards its previous, more rigid stance? Will there be space for it to move on with the peace process if there is a conservative, hardliner government in India? And if it continues the same policy, what could be the consequences?