A good article by Daily times , when will our leaders learn ?
Indian Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi continued his charm offensive in the west with a speech to the UN General Assembly that was everything Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif’s was not. Mr Modi began with a quaint reference to India’s ancient Vedic culture, a running theme in his speech. Harmony, he said, was a fundamental principle of his culture and his country wanted nothing more than “a peaceful and stable environment for its development”. He took the opportunity following this to rebut Nawaz Sharif’s speech from the day before — in which the Pakistani PM called for a resolution of the Kashmir dispute — by saying the UN was not the appropriate forum to raise the issue and that his country was prepared for a bilateral engagement “in a peaceful atmosphere, without the shadow of terrorism”, a reference to the unresolved investigation of the 2008 Mumbai attacks. He was correct of course; the General Assembly is no longer a platform for serious discussion, it is a way for heads of state to build an image for their country and themselves. In this regard, Mr Modi’s speech, with its references to Indian spiritual traditions was written for the US public to consume, while Mr Sharif’s bland, narrow focus was everything that western publics feel is wrong with Pakistan — an obsession with India, desire for territory and a total lack of charisma and likeability. Aside from this and a putative call for Pakistan to “take its responsibility seriously to create an appropriate environment”, the Indian PM’s speech did not focus on Pakistan except by implication. “Are we really making concerted international efforts to fight these [terrorist] forces, or are we still hobbled by our politics, our territory or use terrorism as instruments of their policy?” asked Mr Modi, in an oblique reference to Pakistan that was not lost on anyone. Also not lost were his references to India’s large population, a way to position India as a major global market and as the Hindustan Times put it, “gauge the depth of US interest in India”. Climate change and poverty eradication, alongside terrorism, made up Mr Modi’s three main talking points. One could almost see environmentalists and hippy spiritualists salivating when he gave the hard-sell by linking Indian traditions of respect for nature to its support for climate change initiatives.
Mr Modi’s slick public relations team clearly remains second to none but his gentle words mask deep ambitions. Romantic though his references to India’s culture were, his party’s and his own revanchist religious politics are similar to the precursors of every episode of bloody communal violence in India’s history, beginning with Mahtma Gandhi’s Hindu spiritual revivalism that had such terrible consequences. Nawaz Sharif may carry many stains on his political rap-sheet at home and abroad, but being accused of genocidal communal violence is not among them.
Still, it is a credit to Mr Modi’s political acumen that he understands how important western public opinion is to shaping policy. India’s insistence that Kashmir is a ‘non-issue’ bilaterally reflects Pakistan’s continuance of supporting jihadi proxies to achieve strategic goals. Workable solutions exist and have been discussed but Kashmir remains unresolved, while Pakistan’s support for proxies has cost it dearly in lives and money. Neither position is tenable but India’s appears less so, partly because it de facto controls the territory. Insisting that Pakistan and India resolve their differences bilaterally and then referring to Pakistan’s support for Kashmiri separatists in the same breath is a sign that when it suits India it will certainly raise issues it feels are important enough to merit international attention, but no commentators pointed out this contradiction. Mr Modi’s stance that he was willing to take the bilateral approach did not gel with his decision to cancel secretary level talks in August either. However in the evolving discourse on human rights and legitimacy, these dreary details are second to perception. International opinion, like international law, is an evolving framework, and by making a case that western publics and politicians can relate to, Mr Modi’s speech ensured that he would remain on the right side of both. *