The campaign for the ‘Collective Hindu identity as essence of Bharat’ is now a reality. In time Indian politics will change forever and etch in constitution by 2024. The begging question is how Pakistan meets and deters this onslaught?

In chagrin to Indian secular and leftist governments, a new form of nationalism built around Hindu majority has piled on aspirations of the majority. In the past five years, politics in India has changed forever. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has played the role for Hindutva, Bharat Vesha and Akhand Bharat to the script. Despite electoral setbacks of a decade, it achieved objectives. 

Opposition parties in India were least prepared to check this onslaught. First, that the dynastic nature of Congress left no room for intellectual growth and reform; other parties were too localised. Secondly, barring the leftist, all parties were Hindu in essence. Nehru’s ‘Discovery of India’ leaves many doubts on his secular credentials. Occupation of Kashmir and imposition of 370 was done by Congress, a party with Brahmin roots. 

Undoubtedly, Sang Parivar is the topmost tier of BJP. It has an effective presence world over. While the West was busy praising the world’s biggest democracy, BJP’s spiritual order Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council, VHP) set up headquarters in USA. Through charity like SEWA, and the soft faces of Yoga, Ayurvedic Health and Tantric Sexuality (Sutras), it captivated western fascinations. It supports Hindu politicians like Tulsi Gabbard. Hindu evangelism is growing from Hawaii to Australia. The growth of Indian businessmen in western capitals is exponential. The Indian English media has spread internationally and works overtime in supporting BJP. The perceptions and images so created eclipse Indian poverty lines and food scarcity. 

BJP has emerged as the largest political party in the world. Being fundamentally Hindu, it has attracted groups like Bajrang Dal (the moral police), Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, the overseas branch of the RSS, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, a worker’s union, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, a student’s union, Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, a farmers’ organization, Hindu Jagaran Sammukhya an activist group against conversions, Abhinav Bharat, Virat Hindu Sammelan (VHS) and Shiv Sena. VHP and RSS control all strings, i.e. politics, media, private businesses and the narrative. Indian infringement in occupied Kashmir is a step further towards its final objective for BJP and its support base.  Prime Minister Modi has dared the opposition to challenge his ideology. 

Though Pakistan has a dissuasive element, the political element that rallies national aspirations is deficient. Armed forces have played a vital role in deterring aggression; counter terrorism, nation-building, crises management and some form of narrative building. But, the same cannot be said of other elements? Barring controversial like Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, nothing has come from the political side. 

There is no political party in Pakistan that can rival the organisational prowess and discipline of the Sangh Parivar. Most parties revolve around bloodlines, oligarchy and singular interpretation of religion. Unlike BJP, they lack the simultaneous equivalent of top to bottom and bottoms up approach.  Lack of inclusive intra party democracy and centralisation is playing havoc with the country. 

Even Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf, the largest political party is in the earliest stage of its adolescence. The party thrives on the Charisma of its Chairman. Its party structure is still teething and far from effective. Concentric circles of non-party experts, ‘fly by night reformers’ and opportunists dampen its founding spirit. Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz are suffering the same fate as the Indian Congress. Religious parties are disruptive. 

Pakistan as a construct never took the leap from strategic infancy to adolescence. The approximation of National Power has been left to adhocracy, hounds and experts whose credentials are doubtful. 

There is utter lack of realisation about what lopsided national power means. As a nation, Pakistan is averse to taking up struggles. When it comes to national interests, the people follow their party leaders. The elites dilute the vigour and elixir. It’s a gang of Pied Pipers leading to certain abyss. Pakistan as a nation has yet to stand up for its existence. Dependence syndrome is writ large. Despite Pakistan’s latent potentials, it remains vulnerable to self-created frictions that invite international manipulation. The present could not be worse?

Everything that happens in India and occupied Kashmir impacts Pakistan. We cannot close our eyes and ‘stamp a mouse while there is a tiger at the door’. Before espousing Kashmir with empty cans, the nation has to espouse itself. 

The Sang Parivar adopted a step by step strategy for consolidation. In 1998, it displayed a weaponised nuclear policy followed by a cooperation agreement with USA. Then for a decade it was the main opposition party while its Chief Minister in Gujarat evoked Vedic sentiments. 

True to traditions of Vedic Hinduism and Hindutva, The Sang Parivars recruit for 2014 election was Narendra Damodar Das Modi; a sworn RSS member who believes in ethnic, racial and religious cleansing. His affiliates are noted for their violence against Muslims, Christians and Dalits. RSS and the BJP had been party to the Gujarat violence that erupted after the Godhra train burning. Christian groups accuse the RSS and its close affiliates of participation in the 2008 religious violence in Odisha. Groups within the Sang are now placed in bureaucracy, armed forces and the least, the moral police. 

Modi has come hard on many issues, most notably Kashmir. He has achieved the milestone of revoking 370 in the early part of his second tenure. More is yet to come. India’s future political and diplomatic streams will pose challenges to Pakistan on multiple fronts and at every step. 

India will strive to find space within international concerns and geostrategy against Pakistan. True to its dualism, it will create economic spaces with China and restrain it. Yet for western support it will look at China and focus on Pakistan.

It will continue to discredit Pakistan through every possible allegation notably terrorism, financing terrorism, proliferation, military establishment, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (separatism), Balochistan, human rights, military, minorities and madaris.  

It will exercise influence on International Financial Institutions to arm twist Pakistan. What becomes of FAFT after February 2020 is a sword that could keep hanging. 

The next target could be IBWT. A step towards it will be diversion of waters of River Chenab to Ravi. This could be symbolic but will have an impact. 

Does Pakistan have a plan? Is Pakistan taking stock of the situation and evolving plans, or will Pakistan as ever be reactive and fire fight as it happens? 

In Pakistan, everything is in disarray. The 18th amendment has weakened the federation in absence of enabling and inclusive mechanisms. The government cannot claim success until the informal sector moves to complete the cycle. Right now it is crippled. Resetting the course can only come if there is some level of elusive stability. 

Like the BJP, the corrupt political parties of Pakistan control domestic and international businesses. The power of their dollars and Euros grows by each day. But the comparison ends here. BJP in its own ideology is strengthening India. Pakistan’s opposition is weakening the country. 

Politicians want to grind the accountability to halt. Once considered the pillars of federation, parochial themes are on the rise in Punjab and Sindh. The religious right led by the evergreen and flexible Maulana is leading the anti-military chants. The biggest losers are the masses and informal sectors that have to deal with rising inflation, consumer prices, layoffs and lawlessness. The situation is so dire that even Dengue seems a biological weapon. 

Poverty, unplanned urbanisation and crime could soon become the precursors to widespread unrest. Like ever, the people will go where the slogans are. 

As a Pakistani, I am not concerned about Article 370. India inserted and deleted it. It was a Nehruvian stratagem to pacify the plebiscite. What concerns me more is Pakistan’s inability (beyond rhetoric) to rally to the call of duty. 

This call is not to invade occupied Kashmir or dismember India. It is to create a country no one takes for granted; a strong, self-reliant and assertive Pakistan. It is only then that the world would take Kashmir question seriously.