INDIAN Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has uttered words against Pakistan that are as unfortunate and inadvisable as they are provocative and inflammable. In what can clearly be termed as an error of judgement, the defence minister said that India’s partition on religious lines was a mistake and that Pakistan wanted to break India. He also accused Pakistan of fomenting terrorism and proxy war against India.
In response to these unwarranted utterances, a spokesman of Pakistan’s Foreign Office released a lengthy statement in which he condemned the Indian defence minister’s remarks and linked them to the upcoming elections in Uttar Pradesh and other states by “inciting hyper nationalism”.
Politicians belonging to the BJP have always used Pakistan-bashing to peddle their political agenda and such is the sentiment they have whipped up over the years that their incendiary propaganda ends up paying them electoral dividends. It is a sad reflection on the state of Indian society and politics when obsessing with Pakistan by indulging in fanciful — and often downright silly — allegations elicits vociferous reactions and becomes a rallying point for disparate political elements.
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It would be hard to find a parallel in Pakistan — and thankfully so. In fact, almost all the major political parties in Pakistan still propagate improved relations with India and are desirous of peace through resolution of disputes. This explains why India-bashing is not an electioneering phenomenon in Pakistan, possibly because it does not sell among the voters.
The stark contrast with Indian politicians and their voters is therefore a reminder to everyone in the world who wants to listen that if there is a major impediment to peace in South Asia, it is clearly not Pakistan.
While a deeper analysis of the toxicity infecting the Indian political scene is critical at a time when Indian society is lurching to the right, and is writhing in the fever of intolerance, hate and anti-Muslim bigotry, it is important to state with repeated emphasis that statements like the one by the Indian defence minister can have serious consequences for peace between the two countries.
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The BJP leadership should think twice before loosening their tongues with such infantile irresponsibility. At the same time, Pakistan’s Foreign Office does not need to respond to such statements and therefore give them more attention than they merit. It is better to ignore such rhetoric and get on with the business of the state.
Published in Dawn, December 15th, 2021
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