A reference to past imaginary victories and battles against external enemies are the last desperate refuge for those whose own house is in disorder. This seems to be the case for Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, as he can’t seem to stop bringing up year-old controversies on magnificent surgical strikes against Pakistan, which nobody believes happened.

Perhaps to steer the topic away from the brutal rape incidents that have occurred in India this past month, Modi, during the ‘Bharat ki Baat, Sabke Saath’ diaspora event in London on Wednesday, recalled the surgical strikes, carried out in September 2016, to bring home the point that India will not tolerate those who like to “export terror” and will respond to them “in the language they understand”.

It seems Mr. Modi had conveniently forgotten that there is a question on whether the great surgical strikes went actually as the Indian government claimed they went by. Pakistan at the time straight out denied that a cross-border strike had taken place, saying that Indian troops had fired small arms across the Line of Control, killing two soldiers and injuring nine. Moreover, there is no evidence substantiating the Indian boast of conducting cross-LoC preventive strikes demonstrating their new aggressive approach, leading the international consensus to be that there was no surgical strike, just some border violations.

The Foreign Office of Pakistan has, this time again, promptly rejected Modi’s claims, with FO spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal saying at the weekly media briefing that constant repetition of a fallacious claim does not make it real and that India’s constant recalling of an imagined strike was making the country sound like a broken record.

It is a fitting analogy of a magnanimous claim. Reiterating internationally debunked fantasies, and spreading fear-mongering of Pakistan and terrorism, does nothing for Modi, or India, in the long-run. Resorting to hate-fuelled exaggerations is the resort of a cowardly leader; in doing so, Modi was trying to distance the conversation away from the very real issues of communal rioting and unresolved rape cases, issues which brought outhundreds of noisy protesters to greet Modi when he arrived in London on Wednesday.

Recalling and blaming Pakistan in order to distract from real issues has become a tiresome gimmick for India. Perhaps if he really wants to see India become one of the world’s leading countries, Modi needs to focus on internal social change- like dealing with the massive rape problem in India.