The Debates and Discussions
Modi’s Pakpitstop is discussed and debated for both good and bad reasons. Majority of the international media, Global leaders, Political parties in India and Pakistan has hailed it but few as expected has been criticizing or suspecting the entire act to be an act of private interest to promote business or as another photo op etc.
Media back home is busy discussing whether it’s planned visit or unplanned, who has facilitated it and in between what has changed on the ground to have such a bonhomie between Modi and Nawaz Sheriff.
Amongst all these debates and discussion we come across an interview of BJP’s Ram Madhav, given to Al Jazeera, where he stated his belief that India, Pakistan and Bangladesh will reunite one day to create “Akhand Bharat” or an ‘Undivided India’, He believes one day these parts, which have for historical reasons separated only 60 years ago, will again, through popular goodwill, come together and Akhand Bharat will be created, Without war, through popular consent, in the lines of east and west Germany or Vietnam.
This statement from former spokesperson of RSS and national executive member of RSS , who played the key role in bringing the first BJP coalition government in J&K needs to be viewed with utmost importance and it probably throws up light to the paradigm shift in India’s policy on Pakistan.
Idea of Akhand Bharat
Idea of Akhand Bharat with popular opinion is probably most relevant now than ever before. All over the world Global economies are staring at economic slowdown due commodity price slump and to add to the worries there is growing radicalization resulting in Islamic State and its atrocities threatening to engulf most of the Middle East and now waiting to spread to other countries around.
India being the most sought after economy or the sweet spot in the otherwise turbulent global economies is a big relief to the small economies around it and for small countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh surviving from the onslaught of Wahhabism led extremism may not be an easy task without a strong backing from a country like India.
All in all, the idea of Akhand Bharat for the prosperity of entire subcontinent doesn’t sound a bad idea to start with at least at these times.
Islamic State the common global threat
Going by the latest reports, about 25 youths from India is supposed to have joined IS so far. Countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh has many youths fighting for the cause of IS. Saudi Arabia is threatened by the presence of IS. In a way all the Muslim countries are facing the IS threat along with non-Muslim countries.
Islamic State follows an extremist interpretation of Islam, which promotes religious violence, and regards Muslims who do not agree with its interpretations as infidels or apostates. ISIL aims to return to the early days of Islam, rejecting all innovations in the religion, which it believes corrupts its original spirit. Following Salafi-Wahhabi tradition, ISIL condemns the followers of secular law as disbelievers, putting the current Saudi Arabian government in that category along with other Muslim countries which follows path of Democracy and all religions who agree with Democracy.
In a way IS threat is against Democracy and all the nations across the world that cherishes democracy.
Modi’s view on combating terrorism
Modi has stated his position on terrorism while speaking at the summit of G-20 at Turkey in Nov 2015. He said “The world must speak in one voice and act in unison against terrorism, without any political considerations, must isolate those who support and sponsor terrorism , stand with those who share values of humanism and World leaders should adopt a comprehensive convention on international terrorism without any delay along with cooperation on intelligence and counter-terrorism “. He emphasized the need for a “social movement against extremism”, addressing the youth and involving religious leaders, thinkers and opinion makers and we need to de-link terror and religion and work together to counter radicalization.
This view amply states Modi’s belief that, radicalization as the major threat and the way to tackle is to delink terror from religion and need for a social movement involving states, youth, religious leaders, thinkers and opinion makers than merely following the method of retaliation with higher force whenever attacked.
Some of the primary reasons for the radicalization of Islam in Muslim dominated countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Malaysia, and some countries in Africa, include the influence of the Wahhabi brand of Islam, and educational funding by Gulf countries aimed at propagating a radical form of Islam.
But now, with even Saudi Arabia feeling the IS heat, Modi’s views must be getting thumbs up from all the countries which are vulnerable to IS threat.
Modi and Pakistan
When it comes to Pakistan, on one side Modi is trying his best to win over Nawaz Sheriff, who represents majority in Pakistan who supports democracy and moderate view of Islam and on the other side he is not conceding on his earlier stand, that Pakistan remains as a safe abode for terrorists.
Before his Lahore stop over, he emphasized this view in his speech at Afghan parliament, where he said, Afghanistan will succeed only when terrorism no longer flows across the border; when nurseries and sanctuaries of terrorism are shut; and, their patrons are no longer in business.
So Modi has not conceded on his stand on terrorism emanating from Pakistan but he seems to have accepted the Pakistan’s position on the role of non-state actors in terrorism.
In a way, this seems to be the right step forward, as it is a fact that India and Pakistan’s relationship has been turbulent since partition and both the countries has been working against each other’s interest all these while. Now that Pakistan has become the major casualty in the whole process, expecting it to shut down all the terror groups once supported and nurtured by them overnight would mean another disaster for already terrorized Pakistan.
Indian leadership for the first time is buying this position and probably understands the importance of survival of democracy in Pakistan and importance of checking ever growing radicalization in Pakistan.
Priority for Modi government seems to be not knocking over Pakistani establishment but protecting the supporters of Democracy and moderates within Pakistan.
Pakistan Army and India
Pakistan Army has always been looked up with suspicion in India. After all it was Kargil which India got in return after Vajpayee’s historic Bus journey to Pakistan. But going by a report in Express Tribune, Pakistan Army has paved the way for reviving the stalled dialogue with India this year. Army Chief General Raheel Sharif is said to be close to the new national security adviser, recently retired General Naseer Khan Janjua.
Hence meeting between India and Pakistan must have had the nod of Pakistan Army and for the time being Pakistan Army and Civilian Government is looking on the same page when it comes to relationship with India, which is a big positive.
Modi’s boldness and risks
While taking the unexpected step of stopover at Lahore, Modi and his think tank would have thought enough on the repercussions, especially on any further incidents like Kargil or 26/11, even if it is carried out by the non-state actors from Pakistan.
Hence Modi would have accepted Sheriff’s invite only post due deliberations and preparations as any escalations from Pakistan side whether on Border or any terrorist attack would mean, backlash in India and would corner Modi politically. Hence Modi’s move is not just Bold but it also shows his confidence in the Indian security establishment’s ability to protect the country from any embarrassments post his unprecedented actions.
In a way Modi once again has surprised everybody with his boldness and innovative thinking. In a world where Global Order is changing fast, it is important for Global communities to think differently and act differently to take on problems which are unresolved for years due to the problem of lack of innovative solutions.
Modi with his Pak policy is once again proving his mettle as Global leader, who is different in thinking and who has the capability to walk the talk.
Whether his efforts will lead to Akhand Bharat as remarked by Ram Madhav, only time will tell but greater trust and cooperation between India ,Pakistan and Bangladesh will usher in peace and prosperity in the region like it were probably during the good old days of Akhand Bharat.