If Speeches Can Win Wars, Modi Alone Can Beat Pak

  • Rhetoric In Place of Action!

Sanjaya

Is there a change in the attitude of Prime Minister Narendra Modi? Is he the strong-willed, daring politician that the Indians believed that he was when they voted him and his party to power in 2014? Is the job of the prime minister sitting on his head heavily making it difficult for him to take risky decisions? Is he the same Modi that accused the UPA government of doing nothing when Pakistan based terrorists were killing our army men?

 Prime Minister Narendra Modi is keeping the tempo going through verbal warfare knowing full well that there is nothing he can do to teach a lesson to Pakistan for its alleged role in terrorist attack on army base at Uri. His rhetoric at Khozikode BJP conclave on Saturday and Sunday was not surprising. The information given out to the media that he is going to discuss the Indus Waters Treaty with the concerned officials in the ministries of water resources and external affairs also is in line with his attitude. There is nothing he can do regarding the Indus waters treaty either. It is an international  treaty which survived  three wars between India and Pakistan. Abrogation of Indus Waters Treaty would make India look like law-breaker in the view of the international community. Indus Waters Treaty was signed by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru of India and General Ayub Khan of Pakistan in 1960. It was brokered by the World Bank.

The fact that ‘Prime Minister Modi’ is entirely different from BJP’s ‘Prime Ministerial candidate Modi’ has been proved time and again in the last two and half years. This time it is very clearly established that there is very little a prime minister could do in the given situation. He taunted Pakistan to mind it own business in Balochistan, which is part of its territory, instead of bothering about Kashmir which is not in its purview. He minced no words in castigating the government of Pakistan. He did everything short of declaring war. A war against Pakistan is undesirable, if not suicidal, in the present situation. His appeal to the people of Pakistan to bring pressure on their government to concentrate on eradication of poverty instead of exporting terror has not gone down well with the opposition parties in India, leave alone the people of Pakistan. It could be out of frustration that he could not do what he wished to do due to the constraints that confront the government whenever such a situations arises.

As the prime ministerial candidate, Modi had ridiculed the UPA government for its failure to give Pakistan a fitting reply (Muh tod jawab). He said in one of his election meetings, “Lal Bahadur Sastry had given slogan, ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’. The UPA government is saying ‘Mar Jawan, Mar Kisan.’ He found fault with Manmohan Singh government for doing precious little in the face of Pakistan’s provocations. But after the terrorist attack on Uri in North Kashmir, by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad, in which 18 jawans lost their lives, Modi, if he is true to the election promise, should have sent bombers to destroy the terror camps across the border. But ‘Prime Minister Modi’ could not do it for obvious reasons. He has to reckon with China. Pakistan’s own nuclear stockpile is a powerful deterrent. He would not like to be labeled aggressor by international community.  Even if India started a war, the end would not be in its hand. There will be devastation on both sides. No sensible prime minister would wage a war against Pakistan at this moment or at any other moment  for that matter. The nation has to support the PM in his restraint. The slogans given and pledges made and the criticism mounted by Modi, the candidate, sound hollow now and they haunt him in popular imagination. But there is very little that can be done in terms of actions on the ground. He could move the army to the borders as was done by the Vajpayee regime when there was an attack on Parliament building. He is compensating lack of action with strong language and high octane criticism which was on display in Kerala.

The only option was to mount diplomatic offensive which was done well by the government. The media in the country had exhibited its share of patriotism and went along with the government in giving an impression that Pakistan was truly humiliated by the world powers, that the US Secretary of State John Kerry had asked the visiting Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif an explanation for his role in the terror attack at Uri. We were informed by our media that China, Russia, UK, Germany, France, besides the US, strongly condemned Pakistan while in reality all the countries had unequivocally condemned the terror attack on the army camp at Uri. The PM can bank on the media and concentrate on isolating Pakistan. He can also withdraw the Special Status granted unilaterally to Pakistan  though Pakistan never reciprocated. But all these punitive steps have got to be revoked some time in future after the tempers  cooled down  and realistic sense prevailed. Till then, Modi is free to use the gift of the gab till the popular anger subsided. If speeches can win wars, Modi can vanquish Pakistan single-handedly.

Having made the point, let us not forget that Modi is the man of the hour and there is none who can replace him or come anywhere near him in public esteem. As prominent historian Ramachandra Guha commented in his interview to The Economic Times Sunday Magazine, Modi has to be more realistic. He has to move away from the fundamental positions of the RSS and declare that Article 370 cannot be touched and the so called cow protectors have no place in modern society. The Maharashtra and Haryana Chief Ministers have to be sternly told not to give identity cards to the misguided people in the name of protecting the cow. Guha also said BJP’s hegemony would continue at least for 15 or 20 years.  He categorically said  Rahul Gandhi, AICC Vice President, should get married, settle down to raise family. He added that it would be good for Rahul and good for the country. So, there is no need for Modi to fear that his unpopular stand not to opt for a limited strike against Pakistan would cost him the job. The fact is there is nobody to take his job away from him. It is better for the prime minister to concentrate, instead, on plugging the holes in the defence preparedness. There are so many areas that needed improvement.

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