The media on either side hyped up the presence of Pakistan’s Prime Minister at the oath taking ceremony of Mr. Narendra Modi. Pakistanis must evaluate beyond gobbledygook and read his intentions with political realism. The game that may unfold is beyond party lines and impacts Pakistan permanently. Modi, chastised by many is a man at the helm. Going or not going is not the issue. Failing to read the script is unpardonable. Every right or wrong step bears enduring significance.

Modi served as the Chief Minister of Gujarat from 2001 to 2014 despite strong opposition from Congress and his own party. In relentless judicial inquiries pursued both by BJP and Congress, he was exonerated. His minister Maya Kodnani, was pronounced guilty, sentenced to death, but later pardoned to life term. In retrospect, Modi regretted he handled the media badly. In his second term Modi deviated from Hindutva towards the economic development of Gujarat by limiting the influence of the Sangh Parivar. His decision to demolish 200 illegal temples in Gandhinagar put him at odds with Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS), an unpublicised aspect of his personality.

His 3rd and 4th term are a fairy tale of narrow vertical pockets of development. Critics blame him for neglecting human development. Yet he did enough to convert a semi-arid desert to Bharat’s largest cotton producing area, recharging depleting water aquifers and claiming the lion’s share in Bharat’s GDP. His industrialisation and reforms continued during his 4th term till he resigned to contest the recent elections. Being an outcast for Delhi, the West and the US, he cozied up to Russia, China, South Korea and Japan, inviting investments. After acrimony of over 50 years, he will improve Sino-Indian relations.

Prime Minister Modi’s objectives are handling terrorism, Kashmir and building a necklace of allies around India for security and development. He has shown pragmatism in concealing the ideology of the RSS. With his immense energy and motivation he is someone India needed after successive weak central governments. While Pakistan’s political parties are handicapped by sycophants, BJP comes to power with one of the world’s best Think Tanks, on the principal of ‘Bharat First’. Given his record, he is likely to hang around. Pakistanis would do well to widen their focus beyond the Muslim massacre in Gujarat and look to work with a man who means business.

On the issue of Kashmir, Bharat has exploited the non-binding nature of UN Resolution No. 47 on Kashmir to nibble into the State of Kashmir. This was despite the UNSC Resolution No. 91 of 30 March 1951 that reiterated that elections in IHK do not do away with the need for a plebiscite. UNSC Resolution No. 98 of 23 December 1952, urged Bharat and Pakistan to mutually agree on troops each will have on their side of the ceasefire line in Kashmir for plebiscite. UNSC Resolution of 24 January 1957 stated that such acts (the new J&K Constitution) do not make for a final settlement of Kashmir. This marks the point when India gave up pretending it was interested in the plebiscite and began calling Kashmir an Atoot Ang.

In 1974, Sheik Abdullah unilaterally gave up the right for a plebiscite. 1986 onwards, there have been significant steps Bharat has taken to absorb IOK and also lay claims on Azad Jammu & Kashmir-Gilgit-Baltistan. These are The Armed Forces (Jammu & Kashmir) Special Power Act, 1990 No. 21 of 1990 and 22 February 1994 Lok Sabha resolution that calls J&K an integral part of India and demands Azad Kashmir back.

During this period, Pakistan argued the Kashmir issue through both diplomacy and violence but seldom resorted to jurists to fight the case on legal grounds. This has led to a situation wherein, despite UN and UNSC resolutions, Pakistan has lost international sympathy. The same also applies to the Indus Basin Water Treaty exploited by Bharat due to Pakistani neglect.

Modi will exercise a choice through constitutional resolutions in the State Assembly and Central legislature to absorb Kashmir and also demand vacation of Azad Kashmir-Gilgit-Baltistan, or use a live line of control through limited escalations to subdue Pakistan, or as a diplomatic tool, isolate Pakistan regionally, or placate Pakistan, postpone the issue, pending the rise of India as an undisputed hegemon.

The slogan of Counter Terrorism empathises with international perceptions including China. The game is beyond the point of mutual accusations. Pakistan’s only option viz a viz India is to come out with definite information that it did not plan or abet 26/11; or expose double/triple agents at play. It also has to reveal the extent of Indian culpability in Balochistan and other non-state actors carrying out acts of terrorism with irrefutable evidence.  Finally, it is in Pakistan’s interests to end militancy within its borders.

The manifesto of BJP mentions the formation of a web of allies through multilateral diplomacy to further Bharat’s best national interests. It implies that Bharat could steer away from a western tilt. This is of concern for the West. China stood by Modi when he was an international outcast and these relations will get a boost when Modi visits China, the elder brother in Eastern culture. The Indian Foreign office has made no bones about it.  

The US, NATO and EU have violated understandings with Russia through the eastward expansion of NATO and undermining of Ukraine. The unrest in Kiev makes Putin’s reassertion emphatic. Election trends in EU indicate a visible tilt to the extreme right but are in fact the protest of the people against Europe as one country comprising states. Events in Ukraine have precipitated this. The vacuum thus created will be exploited by Putin beyond Europe to Asia. This makes Shanghai-5 and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (Eurasian Organisation) relevant. Iran, Mongolia, Afghanistan, Bharat and Pakistan enjoy observer status. Pakistan is keen to become a full member while Bharat has been invited by Russia and China as a strategic partner. In the void indicated by President Obama’s latest policy statement, Eurasia is likely to reconfigure itself. Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan, Iran and India will be crucial.

Coming from a Chinese publication, the passage below is a measure of events to follow:

“The West is afraid that a strongman like Russian President Vladimir Putin will make India really strong and build the country into a challenger to the West economically and politically. The US is particularly upset with the enhanced strategic cooperation among China, Russia and India.”

Liu Zongyi of Global Times 5 May 2014

It is therefore not surprising that Modi invited all SAARC countries as a hegemon. Pakistan obliged and paid the cost of not reading the script. To convert these challenges into opportunities is a question successive governments in Pakistan have to address.

 The writer is a retired officer of Pakistan Army and a political economist and a television anchorperson.