Popularity of Modi is waning
By Asif Haroon Raja
Narendra Modi had been elected by the Indians in June 2014 under the fond hope that contrary to Manmohan Singh who in their view was weak and unassuming, Modi being tough and assertive, he will be able to nail down Pakistan and annex remaining part of Kashmir. Impressed by his economic management as a chief minister of Gujarat and earning a reputation of an economic wizard, they expected him to turn around the economy of India and surpass China’s GDP and make India a global power. However, their dreams have begun to shatter since the wind is blowing against India. Modi’s pugnaciousness at home against the minorities, his manipulative Kashmir policy to make it part of Indian Union, his unwarranted belligerence against Pakistan and meddlesome role in Afghanistan and other neighboring states are least conducive for economic progress and productive results.
Indian occupied Kashmir (IOK) is in the grip of new round of unarmed uprising since July 8. Despite breaking all records of brutality and persecution, the freedom struggle is continuing with full fervor. Indian has pumped in additional forces and their strength has risen from 700, 000 to one million (one soldier against 10 civilians). In addition, the existing double fence reinforced with Israeli provided laser radars, high towers, patrolling with dogs all along the 500 km Line of Control (LoC) and defence in depth, is further being fortified by using Israeli supplied latest laser technology. This step is taken to throw wool into the eyes of the world that freedom struggle is not indigenous but supported by Pakistan.
Indian forces applying excessive force have become exhausted/fed up and are questioning the wisdom of their political leaders for not granting right of self-determination to Kashmiris as promised by Pundit Nehru and stubbornly maintaining that Kashmir is integral part of India. Saner elements within India are now opining that IOK has slipped out of the hands of India and for all practical purposes it has lost the political, psychological and moral control over the people of Kashmir. Love for Pakistan among the Kashmiris has scaled new heights.
In order to exert pressure on Pakistan to stop providing moral, diplomatic and political support to the Kashmiris and to divert the attention of the world, Indian military heated up the LoC and adjacent working boundary and kept increasing the tempo under a calculated plan by resorting to unprovoked firing and killing civilians and soldiers. Field artillery duels took place. It further upped the ante by carrying out false flag operation at Uri on September 18, a fake strategic strike, intrusion of submarine in Pakistani waters in Arabian Sea and of drone in Azad Kashmir. Modi and his henchmen threatened to stop flow of river waters into Pakistan to make it barren, hurled threat of ‘First Use’ of nuclear strike, make Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir turbulent and wage limited war. They also doubled their diplomatic efforts to get Pakistan declared a terrorist state.
These belligerent acts were also aimed at provoking Pakistan and then making it an excuse to carryout massive troop deployment all along the border as it had done in 2002 and 2009. Military standoff would have affected the operation of CPEC and also allowed space to the shunted out militant groups to re-enter FATA/Swat. Befitting response was given to all the aggressive acts of India. Bogus Uri attack and strategic strike made India a laughing stock. India’s cruelties in IOK and indiscriminate firing across LoC gave rise to hatred against Modi and gelled the nation.
India’s covert operations launched against Pakistan in 2003/4 at a massive scale with the help of proxies have received a huge setback. RAW and its strategic partners CIA, NDS, MI-6, Mossad have spent billions of dollars to destabilize and denuclearize Pakistan and to create independent Baluchistan, Greater Pakhtunistan and Mohajiristan. All the three conflict zones that had been made restive have been near- neutralized by Pak security forces and Pakistan today stands much stronger politically, economically and militarily.
The Tehreek-Taliban-Pakistan (TTP) that had brought over 60 militant groups under its wings in North Waziristan was pushed out from Pakistan. The TTP under Fazlullah and Khalid Khurasani have been given sanctuaries by Kabul in Kunar, Nuristan and Nangarhar. The scale of terrorist attacks manipulated by RAW and Afghan NDS has gone down radically but random attacks are still continuing with focus on Baluchistan. Insurgency in Baluchistan which later morphed into a separatist movement was triggered by foreign agencies in 2004 after Pakistan signed an agreement with China in 2002 to construct Gwadar as a seaport. Insurgency is gasping for life and militants are coming down from the hills in large numbers. Space for Baloch rebel leaders in exile is fast shrinking as was evident from the disgrace faced by Munir Baloch in Bangkok who wanted to hold a conference on Baluchistan on November 28-29.
Foreign based Baloch leaders Brahamdagh Bugti, Harbyar Marri, Sulaiman Daood and others have become highly unpopular among the people of Baluchistan, particularly after Brahamdagh sought asylum in India, and arrest of RAW agent Kalbushan Yadav (serving Commander of Indian Navy), and his revelations that he was using BLA, BRA and BLF for sabotage and subversion in Baluchistan. The MQM which was on the payroll of RAW since 1989 and was used by Yadav, stands divided into three factions and its militant structure ruptured. Altaf Hussain living in exile in London since 1992 and an agent of RAW, MI-6 and CIA, has been declared a traitor by Sindh Assembly after his anti-Pakistan speech he made on August 22.
Signing of Pak-China CPEC agreement in April 2015 and China’s decision to invest $ 46 billion in the project in next 15 years came as a rude shock to India and USA. This was the biggest investment ever made in Pakistan and is seen as a game changer destined to change the face of Pakistan and in removing the deprivations of smaller provinces which in normal circumstances couldn’t have been removed because of resource constraint and debt burden.
From the very inception of the launching of CPEC, India has adopted an anti-CPEC strategy and engineered conspiracies to sabotage the project on baseless grounds. In a state of frenzy, India opened a special desk at New Delhi under its National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and granted $ 300 million to scuttle CPEC at all cost. Anti-Pakistan elements in Kabul led by Hamid Karzai were also given funds to accelerate cross border terrorism to make the routes along CPEC insecure. Ashraf Ghani who for few months had come quite close to Pakistan was also made inimical and he is now dancing to the tunes of India and USA. Disgruntled elements in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan were tasked to make CPEC controversial by raising the non-issue of western route and block its development as was done in the case of Kalabagh dam.
India also made concerted efforts to woo China to abandon CPEC and instead opt for an economic corridor leading to Chahbahar through Afghanistan. In this regard India had built Zaranj-Delaram Highway in Afghanistan in 2009 and had induced Iran and Afghanistan to sign an accord in 2015 to develop Chahbahar as a seaport. It was aimed at damaging the commercial prospects of Gwadar Seaport, and also to isolate and strategically encircle Pakistan. Indo-UAE $ 70 billion worth agreements and Indo-Saudi Arabia high profile agreements were also aimed at isolating Pakistan. During the recent BRICKS conference, Modi tried hard to influence other members including Russia to project Pakistan as a terror abetting state but had to cut a sorry figure. He also tried to prevail upon Russia to cancel Pak-Russia joint military exercises in Pakistan, but again failed and the two countries are gradually improving their political, economic and defence ties.
Sinister plans against Pakistan have run aground because of Herculean resistance put by the Pak Army, PAF and ISI. These premier institutions have been rated as the best in the world because of their outstanding successes achieved against terrorism, which had become an existential threat to the security of Pakistan. Gen Raheel Sharif was rated as the best Army chief since he led the operations from the front and displayed brilliant leadership qualities. He has now been replaced by an equally professional and dynamic COAS, Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on November 29. He has vowed to carry forward the good work done by his predecessor with greater zeal and has already embarked upon visits to forward areas. He has exhorted the men in battle zones to punish each and every Indian aggressive act with full force and in an effective manner.
The first mega pilot trade cargo of Chinese goods reached from Kashgar to Gwadar along the western route on November 12, 2016, and on the next day, PM Nawaz Sharif kicked off the historic ground-breaking ceremony of the first shipment through CPEC at the Gwadar Port. Cargo was loaded in the ships already berthed at Gwadar Port. Within hours of the inauguration of the CPEC shipment, India’s sabotaging activities entered a new stage. At least four such activities took place within a week. On the evening of November 12, 2016 a powerful blast killed 52 people and injured 100 paying tributes at the Shah Noorani Shrine in Khuzdar. Many found the involvement of RAW and Afghan NDS. In the Bhimber sector, Indian troops fired heavy weapons and field artillery on a post near the LoC on the night of November 13, martyring seven Pakistani soldiers.
In the third attempt, an Indian nuclear-powered submarine, a German made HDW Type 209 diesel-electric, entered Pakistani waters in the Exclusive Economic Zone in the Arabian Sea on November 18, five days after Gwadar shipment was inaugurated. Pakistan’s Navy intercepted and forced the Indian nuclear submarine to retreat from Pakistani waters. It claimed that Indian submarine had entered Pakistani waters around November 4 and assessed that the submarine was ”Gwadar Bound” to sabotage the CPEC shipments. Submarine’s precise mission remains unknown, but experts in Pakistan opine that it was on a CPEC sabotage mission, or on a clandestine intelligence-gathering mission of maritime movement from Gwadar and of Pakistan-China maritime cooperation.
Indian nuclear submarine had entered Pakistan’s waters at a time when the fourth Pakistan-China joint naval exercises commenced on November 16 near Gwadar Port. China had sent the rescue vessel Changxingdao and PLA (N) ship Handan to Karachi for the exercise. This was not the first incident that Indian vessels entered Pakistan’s waters. There have been other attempts in the past as well.
Pakistan’s maritime rights are protected under the UN Convention of Law of Sea (UNCLOS) of 1982, and violation of Pakistani waters by the Indian submarine is a clear and blatant breach of Pakistan’s sovereignty. Pakistan has not raised alarm bells about the deliberate intrusion of Indian submarine with hostile intentions, which has added to the multi directional threats posed to its integrity. Our Western sea coast is akin to our soft underbelly. It is important to us, yet it is vulnerable and coveted by others. Pakistan sit beside the crucial sea lanes of the West’s oil supply from the Persian Gulf.
A day after the Indian submarine was intercepted, an Indian unmanned drone violated the air space of Pakistan near the LoC, which was shot down.
However, all the baleful efforts of India have failed and the CPEC has become a reality. Direct rail and sea freight service was also launched on December 01, with the first cargo train departing from Yunan to Guangzhou port, from where cargo will be loaded on ships and transported to Karachi. CPEC has become a bigger nightmare for India than nuclear program of Pakistan.
Turkmenistan has decided to join CPEC, while sooner than later Russia is likely to join CPEC for exports. Britain has also voiced its keenness to benefit from CPEC. Landlocked and resource rich Central Asian states are very keen to make use of CPEC. TAPI project is likely to get a boost and so will the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project. Time is not far when more and more regional countries will flock towards CPEC and Pakistan will become the main economic hub of this giant project. CPEC besides providing huge socio-economic benefits to Pakistan, it will also make Pakistan more secure by way of thwarting India’s design to isolate and strategically encircle it. With the balance of trade shifting in favor of Pakistan, it will make that much difficult for the US and India to disrupt the CPEC.
In the wake of vast strategic and economic benefits of CPEC, both Pakistan and China should jointly redouble efforts for the safety and security of land and rail routes as well as the sea lanes from Gwadar port onwards. In this regard Pakistan has deployed a security division under the command of serving Maj Gen with three Brigs and nine unit commanders. Another Division is also likely to be raised to look after Sindh and Baluchistan provinces while the present Division will be assigned Northern Areas, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab. Services of Pak made drone will be loaned to the Security Division to surveil the entire length of CPEC from Khunjarab to Gwadar. China has indicated its intentions to deploy fighter jets at Gwadar and expedite delivery of 8 high tech submarines to Pak Navy to guard the Karachi and Makran sea coasts and sea lanes.
The CPEC besides helping China to get rid of the Malacca dilemma, it will serve as a launch pad to connect it with Asia, Africa and Europe to boost its trade. The one-belt-one-road gargantuan project plans to take 3 billion people in its loop. It will enable China to dismantle the US efforts to strategically encircle it by deploying Japan, Australia and India around South China Sea and shifting its strategic pivot from the west to Asia-Pacific.
As if these woes were not enough for India, telephonic talk between PM Nawaz Sharif and Donald Trump on December 01 added to the discomforts of Modi. Nawaz congratulated Trump and invited him to visit Pakistan. To the utter surprise of Nawaz, he gladly accepted the invitation and said that ‘Pakistanis are one of the most intelligent people’. He heaped praises on Nawaz saying he was a “terrific guy…doing amazing work”. He said he was looking forward to a lasting and strong personal relationship. He expressed his willingness to play a role in resolving Indo-Pakistan outstanding issues including core issue of Kashmir. He added, “It will be an honor and I will personally do it”. His friendly conversation was music for many in Pakistan since Trump had been passing pungent remarks against Pakistan and it was generally believed, particularly by Indians that Pakistan will be up for tough times against Trump-Netanyahu-Modi nexus. Feeling upset, Modi and his team must have put their heads together to hatch new conspiracies and play the old Chankyan tactics to keep Pak-US relations frosty. India and chronic haters of Nawaz Sharif in Pakistan cannot digest it and are giving a negative spin to it which is regrettable.
Internally also, performance of India under Modi has been dismal. Dozens of insurgencies and separatist movements in various parts of India have not shown any sign of decline and Naxalite movement has become an existential threat. Minorities in India have become restless and rebellious in the face of BJP-RSS policy of persecution and its obsession to make India a Hindu state. The most oppressed low caste Hindu community called Dalits have for the first time picked up courage to slaughter so-called holy cows in large numbers and throwing meat in front of the houses of Brahmin elites. Khalistan movement has once again become very active and it is fast getting linked with freedom movement in IOK.
Modi’s shock decision on November 8 to demonetize Rupees 500 and 1000 notes has backfired. It has dried up $ 250 billion worth currency in circulation in India, which accounts for 86% of the currency and has crippled Indian economy. This drastic step was taken in the hope of whitening black money, tackling corruption and forgery and alleviating poverty. Experts say that it will seriously impact the economy and GDP is likely to slide down from 6.8% to 4.8%. The cash crisis is set to shrink the $ 2 trillion Indian economy. It will cut down interest rates, shoot up inflation, tumble real estate market and result in acute cash crunch, which in turn will hurt productivity. In case the cash crunch gets prolonged, it may turn into a major political issue. Already many have committed suicides, or died of starvation, queuing up in front of banks to get their currency notes changed. Former PM Manmoham blasted Modi and termed his act as “monumental mismanagement”, and an “organized loot and legalized plunder of the country”. If this experiment doesn’t work, it will have an impact on elections in UP and Punjab in early next year.
Pakistan card has invariably been played by all Indian leaders to win elections or to avert home crisis. Modi has also been resorting to this trick quite extensively as a diversionary tactic to divert the attention of the world community as well as home audience from India’s gross human rights violations in IOK, his currency bungling and coming elections in UP and Punjab. Heating up of the LoC in Kashmir and escalating tensions to an extent of taking it to the brink of war has not been well received by the Indian Army as well as the Indian public. His promises of bringing miracle economic growth have proved hollow and as a result his popularity has begun to wane. There are dissenting voices in India about the three military agreements signed with USA. They say that India has become an American appendage and fear that provision of bases to USA will not only make India highly vulnerable to Jihadi attacks, but will also veer away Russia, which might cut off technology transfer and assistance programs in some vital defence and nuclear projects such as 65000 ton aircraft carrier.
The wind has started to blow in favor of Pakistan and it is fast moving towards take off stage. It will be in the interest of India as well as the region if Modi shuns policy of intransigence and confrontation with nuclear Pakistan, and extend a hand of friendship based on sincerity of purpose and take practical steps to settle the Kashmir dispute, which is the root cause of Indo-Pakistan rivalry. It should play a big role in uplifting the socio-economic conditions of the people of South Asia. If Modi continues to tread on the path of non-cooperation and hostility, that day is not far when he will preside over the disintegration of India.
The writer is a retired Brig, war veteran, defence analyst, columnist, author of 5 books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, DG Measac Research Centre, Member Executive Council PESS. Takes part in TV talk shows and delivers lectures on current issues. firstname.lastname@example.org