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Modi is at crossroads and possibly facing biggest test of nerves

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Modi-Doval Huddle

Uri attacks, timed with the intent to internationalize Kashmir at UNGA, seem to have failed its objective, and instead dented Pakistan’s diplomatic credits (whatever is left of it), as both USA and UK – the two key western powers with history and interest in the region – choose to ignore call for “talks”, while strongly condemning the act of terror. Equally eroding Kashmiri’s moral legitimacy of indigenous freedom struggle.

However, for Pakistani establishment, international shame is no longer a matter of concern, as it’s perfected the art of subduing these under the rhetoric of victimhood and western saazish. The net tangible gain for Pakistan in this entire episode has been sifar – but then it has never been in the past – be it Kargil or Mumbai 26/11 & alike incidents. What it does though is help satiate domestic thirst for standing up against the hegemony of Hindu India, especially the current Hindu nationalist dispensation of Modi, and therefore domestically the costs of such episodes are deemed acceptable.

That said, what the Uri episode managed to do is, inadvertently put focus on Prime Minster Modi’s self-set rhetorical benchmark when dealing with Pakistan inflicted terrorism, increasing the possibility of overt conflict between the two nuclear-armed neighbors.

Over the couple years, Modi-Doval combo has managed to create trouble for Pakistan army, first for India since 1980’s and reversing an otherwise ‘muted’ security policy. While covert means can be effective and be sustained for long, as they comes along with a cloak of deniability, but are politically ineffectual as laypersons back home don’t read between lines. The Modi-Doval combo has inflicted cost on Pakistani terror misadventures by worsening already fragile ethnic fault lines within Pakistan, be it in Balochistan or Khyber Pakhtunkha, or the widening Shia-Sunni rift, or even pushing back fauji encirclement of Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif. But to expect, only covert policies can bring about a change in Pakistan army’s behavior is naïve and preposterous. Further, as seen in the context of Uri attacks, it doesn’t assuage public perception, pushing Indian government to the brink of overt, visible action. But can Modi risk priorities of economic growth, that aspirational India voted him for, again – something which India absolutely needs to counter the threat of a rising China?

Modi is at crossroads and possibly facing its biggest test of nerves, especially when your options are limited due to lack of conventional military strength that can deliver on strategic gains quickly. Any full-fledged action, in the current balance of power, would most likely result in stalemate, not to mention its impact on economic growth for India. Even assuming, in near future, India musters and delivers surgical strike, restoring J&K to pre-1947 territory, but would it result in change of Pakistan army’s behavior? Absolutely not, in fact, this would further amplify its already irrational and violent behavior.

What is the solution?

Pajer (1998) established the theory of “homotypic continuity”, basically the relationship between delinquent behavior among boys and criminal behavior as adults. The theory proposes that, difficult childhood could eventually cause the grown up adult to take more impulsive risks and possibly increase the risk of mental health problems and behavioral issues.

As argued earlier, Pakistan is an abnormal country. And if it were a person, it would fit perfectly in the theory of homotypic continuity. Pakistan’s problem began in the seeds of its creation, with the narrative built around the premise of Muslims of the sub-continent being superior, if not equal, to the Hindus and thus yearning for literal equity in governance and rule, despite numerical insufficiency, and thus disparaging the idea of modern secular republic.

The seeds of this animosity with Hindus, along with violent birth and continued defeats in pursuit of supremacy, had only turned Pakistan irrational, impulsive, violent and in the apt diagnosis of Prof. Christine Fair – a revisionist state.

Psychologists suggest that once into adult, the person with such behavioral disorder is very likely to continue to have it for most of their lives, unless there is occurrence of psychological mutation resulting in healing of brain. A terrible conclusion in our case, especially for India, Afghanistan and Iran, given that you cannot incarcerate an entire nation for eternity and neither can you choose to ignore a neighbor, nor hope for psychological mutation to happen in a degenerating society.

The clinical solution, to this, then is – death, not in the literal sense of the word but the idea of Pakistan or to use the cliché – nazaria-e-pakistan. And for this to happen, Pakistan as it stands today, in name, identity, form must cease to exist. The, How – of demise of nazaria e pakistan, is debatable. And while we continue to hope for psychological mutation in the form of leadership change in Pakistan to deliver it for us, until then the region as a whole would not see peace.

In this context of unyielding behavior issue, Modi’s India cannot afford to remain mute nor rely solely on covert means, risking loss of political audience back home. And, to bring about the demise of nazaria e pakistan – it would take more than a Modi to pull it off.

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