The Narendra Modi government’s move to abrogate Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir has exposed many Pakistan sympathisers within India. As expected, the Indian National Congress criticised the Union government for its move to revoke the special status given to Jammu and Kashmir, directly in tow with Pakistan’s agenda and now continuing the trend, NCP Supremo Sharad Pawar has jumped on the bandwagon and decided to praise Pakistan for its ‘hospitality’ and accused the Modi government of lying about Pakistan.
Sharad Pawar while addressing a special meeting for the minorities at the NCP Headquarters in Mumbai said: “I have visited Pakistan and received their hospitality…It is a misplaced fact that people in Pakistan are unhappy. However, the present government has been spreading lies about Pakistan for its political benefits.” Pawar also decided to term the move to abrogate Article 370 by the Modi government as a signal that it’s against a minority state and it will only lead to more terrorism in the valley. Pawar referred to Jammu and Kashmir as a “Muslim-majority” region. His statement fails to reflect just how ethnically, culturally, and religiously diverse Kashmir is. Indeed, while Kashmir is majority Muslim, Jammu is majority Hindu, which is about one-third of the population; and the vast, sparsely populated Ladakh is traditionally Buddhist. While Pakistan’s economy continues to lie in doldrums with the Imran Khan government resorting to austerity measures like selling of buffaloes, milk getting dearer than oil and the country struggling with an inflation rate of 8.2%, Pawar feels that the people of Pakistan are happy despite such a poor state of the economy.
Pawar is a habitual offender and decides to praise Pakistan at regular intervals. In August 2018, he said that Pakistan people share closeness with India which he again based on his experiences when he travelled to the revanchist state of Pakistan. His insensitivity came to the fore, when close to the heels of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, Pawar the then Chairman of ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 claimed that India being a sport-loving nation would welcome Pakistan in Mumbai if the country managed to make it to the final. His statement came as India was grieving the first anniversary of the 26/11 terror attacks carried out by Pakistan-backed terror attacks. NCP Supremo Sharad Pawar has shown that he can stoop to any levels to appease minorities and consolidate his vote bank even if it meant to play to Pakistan’s tunes. It is important to note that Pawar used to be the Union Minister of Defence and comically claimed that it was his idea to give the Armed Forces a free hand to destroy the terrorist camps in Pakistan after the Pulwama attacks. Pawar had stooped to a new low and decided to drag in the late former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections. In a crass comment, Pawar claimed that Parrikar quit as the Defence Minister as the Rafale Deal was unacceptable to him.
Sharad Pawar’s public display of affection for Pakistan comes at a time when the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) is battling a mass exodus as its leaders flock to the BJP-Sena alliance for the simple reason that the party has virtually accepted defeat in the upcoming Maharashtra elections slated to take place in October. The NCP leaders are worried about the prospect of facing a yet another humiliating defeat and hence are deciding to jump ships to the BJP-Sena alliance. The defections signal imminent doom for the NCP as its bastion of Navi Mumbai is under threat with Ganesh Naik and his sons switching over to the BJP. The party enjoys little or no footing in Mumbai. The NCP has been begging the Election Commission to not take away their national party status after yet another dismal showing in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections where NCP could only muster five seats with a meagre 1.39 vote share percentage.
In such miserable times, it is none other than Sharad Pawar himself who has put the last nail in the coffin of the NCP, by making irresponsible statements praising Pakistan and accusing the Modi government at the center of lying on Pakistan’s patronage of terror. Sharad Pawar has failed to gauge the larger Indian sentiment about Pakistan’s mischief which does not need a government to dole out the awareness.