How Modi Changed The Language Of The Discourse On Uri

25/09/2016 8:55 AM IST | Updated 29/09/2016 8:41 AM IST
Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses during the BJP public meeting, on September 24, 2016 in Kozhikode.

"War or no war" seemed like the only two possible options ever since 18 September Uri attack happened. While some argued for "hot pursuit" in the form of military strikes on terror bases within Pakistani territory, others posited that "diplomatic isolation" is hardly an approach—after all, haven't we been trying to just do that for the past 70 years?

PM Modi turned around the game and besieged Pakistan in a space where it just doesn't belong—the space called progressive ideology.

But on 24 September, at Kozhikode PM Modi turned around the game and besieged Pakistan in a space where it just doesn't belong—the space called progressive ideology.

He sought to talk "directly to Pakistani citizens" and dared them to beat India in its fight against poverty, in its pursuit towards economic growth and job creation.

So while the Uri attack, subsequent statements from Pakistan at the UNGA and the Pakistani Prime Minister's statement that Uri could be a "reaction to the situation at Kashmir" sought to provoke India, Modi turned around the entire narrative and brought it back to development.

Because war with Pakistan doesn't just mean two nuclear armed states teetering on the precipice. It also means India getting down to the same ideological plane of propagating violence as Pakistan.

Nations across the Indian Ocean, Africa, Central and Southeast Asia have all stretched out their arms to India because of its democratic track record and strategic autonomy.

The same ideological standing has led to India's prominence at international forums such as BRICS, SCO, ASEAN. India's strong track record has bagged it a coveted Missile Control Technology Regime (MCTR) seat.

This is exactly where Pakistan just doesn't score.

Attempts for democracy in Pakistan remain futile as ever.

It failed as a dependable and trustworthy neighbour. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani—after attempting to straighten his country's relationship with Pakistan—scrapped all niceties after some of the most brutal terror attacks on Afghan soil were traced back to Pakistan. Today there are talks of trilateral talks between India, Afghanistan and the US.

Pakistan has always played a "second State"—right from the first Afghan War till the post 9/11 era. It has played this role with US and is now doing so with China. It doesn't pay forever, if history is any indicator. Today, there are strong opinions at the US Senate to declare Pakistan a terrorist State. Now Islamabad is courting China, a country whose economic breakthroughs have been accompanied by abuses of labour and environmental laws from Africa to Latin America?

Indeed the news of Russia and Pakistan launching their first ever joint military drills, titled Friendship-2016, in northern Pakistan on 24 September surprised many. But Russia categorically refused to hold the drill in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Even popular opinion in Moscow doesn't seem to be too favourable to this joint drill.

India is rightly investing its efforts in creating public opinion against Pakistan's terror tactics.

Consider this: Petr Topychkanov, South Asia expert and associate in the Carnegie Moscow Center's Nonproliferation Program, in an interview with RBTH said, "Russia should focus on military exercises with Pakistan in various multilateral formats, and avoid bilateral drills of Russian and Pakistani troops to prevent a negative reaction from Delhi."

Russia will remain concerned about sparking any negative sentiments in India. While it is true that both India is diversifying its sources of arms acquisitions, New Delhi remains a leading buyer of defence equipment for Moscow—it's an equation that Russia does not want to jeopardize.

India is rightly investing its efforts in creating public opinion against Pakistan's terror tactics. The first step towards this was Modi's Independence Day mention of atrocities perpetrated by Pakistan in Balochistan. The positive response to his statement wasn't long in coming. Baloch activists from across the world, including Melbourne, South Korea and Germany, came out in protest against Pakistan, and thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for extending his support to the province's beleaguered people.

Modi referred to the Pakistani authorities' failure to stabilize the areas under its administration including PoK and Baluchistan.

He triggered some of the right nerves of the public opinion as is evident from some of the tweets under #ModiInKozhikode and #indiapakistan:

Modi has sparked a debate in a space that Pakistan has no experience in. It will go a long way in creating our case for a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT)—to choke terror funding or shelter, or pursuing listing of individual terror masterminds at the UNSC 1267.

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