“The scenes will return, like deranged ghosts, to haunt those of us who were at the graveside to witness the burial of a secular dream. The screams of exultation with each blow of a pickaxe, each thrust of a rod, each dome that came crashing down. If there were no implements, the frenzied hordes would have used their bare hands to the same effect, so powerful was the poison that coursed through their veins in those few hours of madness (Awasthi, 1992, 15.)”
It is now clear from various reports that in Gujarat Legislative Assembly elections, 2002, BJP used Gujarat pogrom effectively to consolidate Hindu sentiment and the majority Hindu vote. The result was an overwhelming victory for the BJP. It is a pity that today, the same contender, Narendra Modi, finds it indispensable to play the anti-Pakistan card for Hindu consolidation. For those concerned with India’s democratic and secular fabric, this persistent politics of hatred certainly marks the end of India’s tryst with destiny.
In a recent speech, Narendra Modi, vowed attacking Pakistan to bring Dawood Ibrahim to India if he comes to power. Although, it’s the similar jingoistic election stunt as conquering the Delhi Red Fort stunts by Jamat-e-Islami and Difa-e-Council Pakistan. But such a statement from the probable Prime Minister of world’s biggest democracy, also exemplifies what the future under BJP dominated government may look like for the region.
Not to deny that the deep-state on both sides is avowedly against each other. But unlike India, all the major political parties in Pakistan that hold considerable electoral leverage (PPP, PML-N and MQM) except Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, want better relations with India. On the contrary, in India, even the leftist parties that represent secular credentials like Indian National Congress hark back on jingoistic patriotism of BJP when it comes to normalizing relations with Pakistan.
The problem with BJP is that it has created highly chauvinistic narrative on Pakistan based on preaching hatred that goes back to the partition days. In the domain of Foreign Policy, Modi’s various statements manifest that the party retain a maximalist position whereby the totality of India’s relationship with Pakistan hangs on the issue of cross-border terrorism. Of late, Pakistan appears to be pushing for a series of dialogue with India on all the contentious issues, keeping its traditional position of ‘let’s talk Kashmir first’ in the back-burner; from bilateral trade, stabilizing the line of control, management of borders and etc. But unfortunately, India primes itself for a stronger anti-Pakistan stance, and fails to reciprocate with the same vigour even as Islamabad appears to aspire to settle things between the two neighbours.
However, last time the two countries had a major breakthrough was during the BJP government in Delhi and Mr. Nawaz led civilian government in Pakistan. Whether Modi can turn out to be another Atal Behari Vajpaye is still yet to be seen.
But it is imperative that Modi and BJP realize that Indo-Pak cooperation is indispensable for regional stability. It also necessitates that instead of such imperialistic statements, India must play a more positive role in the region.
By Kashif Ali