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Isolated India: Domestic Troubles Greatest Problem for Its Foreign Policy

DESPARDES — A former Pakistani ambassador who has authored several insightful books, says that India is getting more and more isolated in the World, and Islamabad should launch a diplomatic offensive, expose Modi-led right-wing government’s jingoistic narratives following annexation of Jammu & Kashmir and enactment of contentious laws which aims to transform the world’s largest democracy into a Hindu nation.

The envoy’s views dovetail a most recent analysis in The Diplomat that says that the Narendra Modi government’s brutal approach to India’s domestic affairs has cast a long shadow on Indian diplomacy.

Independent observers in India and worldwide generally agree that the widespread agitations triggered by the enactment of Citizenship Amendment Act and the NCR constitute the biggest resistance to a piece of legislation in the country’s independent history, and that the Modi-led government’s brutal response to the protests is tarnishing India’s reputation in the region and globally.

According to the analysis’ observation — which several independent observers also concede to — foreign policy is usually conducted in a separate space from the domestic arena. The CAA, however, will have consequences for millions of people in South Asia across countries including those with whom Delhi has good relations: Bangladesh, Sri Lanka to name two — Pakistan notwithstanding.

According to many, the Hindu nationalist government in India has not thought through the implications that it will have for the region. This is evident from its unwillingness to hold a dialogue with serious critics and, at the same time, its willingness to deploy every method to divert attention away from the issue and resort to thuggish means to withhold the massive opposition to it. “Such behavior is uncharacteristic of the largest democracy in the world,” the report says.

The contentious amendment seeks to provide citizenship to religiously persecuted non-Muslim minorities who are already residing in India. It is applicable to refugee minorities from the Islamic republics of Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, (except Muslim refugees) and is being called out for being unconstitutional in discriminating on religious grounds.

The law is among a spate of controversial decisions taken last year that include revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, the Ayodhya verdict, and implementing a National Register of Citizenship in the state of Assam. These are deliberate initiatives aimed at alienating the Muslim community in India and reducing them to second class citizens. This is a crucial step for fulfilling the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s myopic vision of making India a “Hindu nation” — a homeland for Hindus, in an attempt to replicate the Israeli model in the process without any regard for context.

“Such a brazenly communal policy has come at the cost of ignoring urgent financial challenges that the country is facing such as its biggest economic slowdown since 1979, rising inflation and a job crisis. People have taken to the streets to show their anger.”

The Narendra Modi government is sparing no efforts to undermine the massive protests that have shook the country since. Along with an aggressive door to door campaign to justify the law, thousands have been arrested and detained, some tortured; private properties have been confiscated and damaged, and bullets have been fired at protesting crowds. All of this is accompanied with a daily dose of highly charged propaganda of vicious allegations on the largely peaceful protesters by the ruling BJP.

Such a vile display of muscle that includes regular physical and verbal attacks on liberal Indian institutions of higher education (JNU, Jamia Millia Islamia, Aligarh Muslim University, Indian Institute of Management among others) does not bode well for India’s image of being a regional player, and a secular democracy at that.

The BJP’s divisive agenda is further enabled by its jingoistic narrative, one that is obsessed with Pakistan and sending those Indians who disagree with its bigoted politics there. Doing so has led to the unintended consequence of constricting India’s primary foreign policy goals and actions to the India-Pakistan security hyphenation, — a step backward.

The sheen is eroding and a Hindu nation seems to be emerging, said one observer.

“This is a pity. It would do the establishment well to remember that there is a world beyond Pakistan,” the Diplomat‘s latest analysis added.

India and Pakistan in 1947 became two independent neighboring nations as the British Empire decided to leave the sub-continent post World War II.

“Quaid’s vision about creation of Pakistan based on Two-Nation Theory is an even more acknowledged reality today,” said Pakistan Army Chief Gen . Bajwa on Jinnah’s 144th birthday in December.

 

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