Following the footsteps of Kashmiris, the people of Delhi flocked to the polling booths on February 7, to register their anti-Modi sentiment. Exit polls predict that ‘Aam Aadmi’ (Common Man) Party may even win two third majority. After having invested substantial political capital in these two elections, falling short of success would be quite a setback for Modi. Concurrently, Washington has asked India to improve ties with neighbours and the New York Time has slammed Modi over his silence on religious intolerance. Maybe Modi needs a moment of self-reflection.

Pakistan has repeatedly stated that it seeks improved ties with India. However, Indian leadership’s aggressive language has sabotaged these efforts. Modi’s reluctance to move in the direction of peace places the region in danger. Modi’s electoral campaign had overtones and undercurrents of anti-China and anti-Pakistan rhetoric. On the domestic side his articulations point towards Hindutva. There was hope that after the elections he would mellow and practice statecraft as a prudent leader. So far it has not happened. Flimsy electoral slogans have gone to his head. There is no likelihood that he would replicate AB Vajpayee. He has not been able to outgrow his Tea-boy and Chief Minster shoes.

It is time that Modi be taken on his face value and reciprocated accordingly. Nawaz Sharif should caution his trade minister who appears in haste to bestow the ‘Non-Discriminatory Market Access’ (NDMA) status to India. It will be worthwhile if ministry digs out archives of the Uruguay Rounds of trade talks in which Pakistan had started participating, as a member state, soon after its independence. The security related clauses in those archived documents specifically link free trade with India to the resolution of the Kashmir dispute. India has given numerous direct, indirect and cross subsidies to its agriculture sector which Modi has refused to withdraw on the pretext of his priority to ‘feed its poor’. The trade minister is being foolhardy in assuming that he will be able to protect Pakistan’s agriculture sector against the onslaught of highly subsidised Indian products.

Modi’s Chanakyan mannerism during Obama’s recent visit to India was quite telling. He went out of his way to flatter Obama. It is interesting to contrast it with the Saudi King’s behavior. When the American President reached to condole the passing-away of King Abdullah with the new monarch King Suleiman, the king left his guest unattended when the call to prayer was made.

Despite Modi’s behavior, nothing eye popping happened at the end of the summit. However, at the end of his visit Obama reminded India to care about others, of different religion, race or region, because without harmony and inclusivity India could barter all its advantages.

One area of converging US-India interests relates to China’s containment in the Asia-Pacific region and the Indian Ocean. During Xi Jinping’s visit to India on September 2014, Modi hyped up a benign border incident to humble the guest. Modi’s message to Xi (translated from the Hindi), was, “Even such small incidents can impact the biggest of relationships just as a little toothache can paralyze the entire body.” This was indeed music to American ears.

No wonder India was mentioned in Obama’s dispatches as a “global partner” and was invited to play role in global geopolitics, especially in the South China Sea and in the Indian Ocean. Beijing downplayed the significance of Obama’s trip to New Delhi, but has surely noted that the joint statements released after Modi’s visit to Washington (shortly after receiving Xi in India) as well as after Obama’s trip, referenced maritime activities by China’s Navy.

While he pours tea for Obama, Modi pushes Pakistan to conform to the demands of new India in leaving out Kashmir from the international agenda and punishing the Mumbai trial suspects before a dialogue can be granted to Pakistan. He generates sporadic pressures on Pakistan through frequent ceasefire violations. Jammu and Kashmir is an issue of right to self-determination of the Kashmiri people, enshrined in numerous UN resolutions. India continues to usurp this right with impunity, in violation of the UN Security Council Resolutions and the UN Charter. Unlike India, Pakistan’s position on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute is based on international humanitarian law, UN Security Council resolutions and underpinned by moral and political principles. The reality is that India with its illusions of grandeur is obsessed with aggrandizement.

On the domestic front, factors contributing to Modi’s victory have been several. They include: the support given to him by the corporate sector, the fanatical zeal of the RSS, the false projection of the ‘Gujarat model of development’, the polarization of society along religious lines, and discrediting of the Congress government through the campaigns launched by the likes of Anna Hazare. Now gradually the cabinet system of governance is giving way to one man’s autocratic ways, with secretaries of Government departments reporting directly to Modi. The ‘labour reforms’ brought in by this government will do away with whatever little protective clauses are there for labourers. Land acquisition by industrialists is being made easy at the cost of those who own the lands. The other social welfare schemes for the poor are under threat of being done away with too.

The intimidation of religious minorities has been stepped up. Christmas Day was declared as ‘Good Governance Day’ in a move to undermine this festival. Attacks on churches and mosques have been taking place frequently. The statements that we are Hindus and this is a Hindu State have become more and more assertive, and Modi maintains a purposeful silence, because all this is an integral part of the agenda of the BJP and its parent organization, the RSS. With the BJP now having a simple majority, their agenda unfolds in an uninhibited manner. Time has come for Pakistan to take Modi at his actions and not his articulations and carefully manage its India policy to safeguard national interests.