While addressing overseas Pakistanis in Bahrain, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif lamented India’s lack of reciprocity towards his government’s efforts aimed at normalization of affairs between the two countries. The concern, voiced by the Prime Minister, is shared widely in Pakistan. This growing perception, of Pakistani civilian government’s peace initiatives being undone by a hostile right-wing Indian government under Modi, is not entirely unfounded. In the face of opposition from the military and hardliners both in politics and society, PM Sharif affirmatively answered PM Modi’s invitation for his inauguration ceremony, in Delhi. That visit was to start things on a positive note, send a signal highlighting Pakistan’s willingness, rather eagerness, to engage. However, prospects of meaningful dialogue have all but diminished in the following months.
Views expressed by PM Modi’s National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval, during a seminar at an Indian university not too long before he was appointed to his current position, may serve to explain India’s increasingly hostile behaviour. During his lecture, Mr Doval talks about the need to shift India’s approach towards Pakistan from “defensive mode” to “defensive offense”. There is ample evidence to suggest that India has in fact already been implementing Mr Doval’s aggressive doctrine before PM Modi’s rise to power. With him at the helm of affairs however, we are witnessing this doctrine being embraced more openly and driving India’s foreign policy agenda in relation to Pakistan. This would explain the skirmishes along the LoC and the IB, especially when Pakistan’s military conducts operations against militants in FATA.
Another issue, which is a cause of growing distress in Delhi, is the change of leadership in Afghanistan. In Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, India doesn’t have the partner they had in ex-President Hamid Karzai, which will directly impact its ability to use Afghan territory against Pakistan by way of supporting insurgents in Balochistan and FATA. President Ghani is attempting to reengineer his country’s policy towards India, and has reached out to Pakistan unlike his predecessor, contributing to Delhi’s hostility. When there are right-wing strategists talking about exploiting a neighbouring country’s fault lines to achieve objectives, and they happen to have the Prime Minister’s ear, matters usually take a turn for the worse as they have.