Around two years ago, Imran Khan triumphantly announced to the country that Naya Pakistan had arrived; promises and plans that had lain dormant for two decades were about to be pursued.

Amidst the fanfare of civil disobedience, fiery speeches, and partisan warfare, waves were also being made across the border. These waves, albeit far more subtle and stretched over a longer period of time, have now fundamentally changed the trajectory that India was on a decade ago. It took time, but Naya India has now decided the fate of the region, possibly cementing t

Looking back on the past year, the world has seen India repeal Article 370, effectively caging and brutalising millions of Kashmiris by restricting their rights during a global pandemic, pogroms, riots, draconian laws that systematically ethnically cleanse entire nations in the ‘biggest democracy in the world’. From Dr Submramaniam Swami, a top BJP spokesman, who boldly said that Muslims are not in the ‘equal category’, to Arnab Goswami and his platoon of doppelgangers that churn blind support for Hindu supremacy, fictitious surgical strikes, and how Muslims are trying to take over the country; India has fully embraced this stage of its evolutionary journey from pseudo-secularism to tropical fascism.

Terrorism-scarred Pakistan sounded the alarm at the United Nations and cast light on M S Golwaskar and his Hindu supremacist RSS. While Pakistan’s effectiveness is debatable, considering the cards in hand, Indian leaders like Sashi Tharoor and Mahua Moitra warned their legislative houses of Modi’s lust to divide through fascist nationalism that jeopardises the integrity of the Indian Constitution. Yet India held her head high and pushed the Citizen Amendment Act, promoted anti-Muslim educational curriculums and disinformation campaigns while cementing over the destruction of Babri Mosque. In parallel, India used a big brother strategy to irritate an already irate group of countries like Nepal and Bangladesh, which, contrary to their past options, now have another direction to turn to: Beijing.

From BJP’s perspective, these decisions aspired to gain political capital while appealing to their agenda of uniting India into a uniform Hindutva nation under a singular culture, religion and manipulated history. Blaming Pakistan has been a staple of Indian politics, but the abrogation of Article 370 and anti-Muslim policies have irreparably fractured the nucleus that tied harmonious co-existence together. The punches Modi has thrown conveniently allowed Pakistan to play the waiting game while India implodes under the threat of an increasingly kinetic China, and relative isolation from the rest of the world.

China’s rising influence in much of the world will cause further Indian isolation, save from the extreme right-wing and places where Indian lobbies can overrule the economic promises China offers. Washington’s trade tariffs and offers for mediation into a matter India considers ‘internal’ displays further cracks in their foreign policy while internal unrest grips their nation.

By declaring the entirety of Kashmiri political spectra hostile, deepening the trust deficit with China, and this desire to poke neighbours, India now finds itself being kicked out of projects in Iran while every neighbour around it is becoming increasingly aggressive. The cost of this political ‘masterstroke’ is the foundation of ‘Naya India’, which time will show as a malignant tumour, hell-bent on destroying the international leverage that India once held.

Pakistan wasn’t in the strongest of positions when raising a cry for Kashmir against a muscular India with a significant economic market, and international interests. Despite the less-than-ideal external support, Delhi’s refusal to see the scrapping of Article 370 as anything short of a triumph has transformed potential regional dialogue into India facing two nuclear-armed militaries on two fronts. Meanwhile, Pakistan has demonstrated its desire to build peace through opening the Kartarpur Corridor, returning captured Indian pilots, inviting Delhi for collaboration on COVID, and vocally keeping the door for talks open.

There have been difficulties in the region; most unfortunately by design. Yet, as we stand on the one-year anniversary of Naya India imprisoning a nation, difficulties are now being manufactured. This August 14, as Pakistan celebrates escaping a global pandemic and welcoming a rising economy, Kashmiri flags are going to be held higher; there seems to be no more room for normalisation of relations with India. The people of Indian Illegally Occupied Kashmir will not sit still waiting for the sword to fall, nor can India maintain its military presence perpetually without repercussions. Modi placed the powder-keg in a match factory, and there can only be hope that the damage is minimised when it goes off.

While Naya India settles in her new bed, Pakistan should vigilantly take notes and avoid falling into the same pitfalls as its neighbour. Over the years to come, Naya Pakistan’s position as the polar opposite to Naya India may vindicate Jinnah’s two-nation theory; Mahatma Gandhi, however, has been proven wrong.