Individual leadership holds a colossal impact on societies. Be it Napoleon, Mandela, Hitler or Mussolini, all of them were able to captivate, engage and regulate the behaviour of the masses. War begins in the minds of men. Ergo, whenever hatred is diffused by leaders, it bruises the fabric of society to its core. Youthful minds get masked by the plethora of the burgeoning emotions and these patterns spread across the entire spectrum of the society. When risk-tolerant leaders occupy corridors of power, stability becomes vulnerable and chances of escalation amplify.
As the third phase of the Indian elections unrolls, an aura of frantic campaigning can be observed throughout the country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi aims to galvanize all efforts in full swing to conquer the elections. Modi has opted to dispatch his election campaign by using the medium of hatred. This is a very dangerous precedent being set; in the event that Modi wins the ongoing elections, these patterns will likely reappear in the next elections.
In a rally in Rajasthan on 21st April 2019, Modi threatened Pakistan by saying, “Our nuclear capabilities are not being kept for Diwali”. Modi referred to the night of 27th February and the missile-related threat from India as ‘qatal ki raat’ (‘the night of murder’). It clearly contradicts the position of Indian officials, who had tried to give the impression that there were no such plans of India, and instead blamed Pakistan for whipping up war hysteria. Modi also stated that he did not fall prey to Pakistan’s nuclear blackmail because India has the “mother of nuclear bombs.” The international community should take into account these threatening statements being made by the top leadership of the world’s so-called largest democracy. Moreover, this hatred was being propagated at a time when Sri Lanka was encountering deadly terrorist attacks one after the other. It would appear that Modi’s severe lust of power has caused him to ignore the fragile situation and advance his endeavours towards consolidating an anti-Pakistan narrative. Prime Minister Modi revels in associating an anti-Pakistan narrative with himself and staunchly believes that his verbal assault on Pakistan will bestow upon him a copious majority of seats. In the forthcoming elections, this might be turn out to be a smart move. However, the long term impact of such campaigns is yet to unravel.
On various occasions such as the BRICS summit 2016, the G20 Summit 2016, and the U.S. Congress Address 2016, Modi has consistently blamed Pakistan for supporting terrorist activities without giving adequate evidence. Likewise, in the aftermath of the Uri attacks of 2016, he tried to elevate his political standing through the bogus claim of a “surgical strike”. He even stated that it had been “a risky job” but there was “a rage building” inside him, in order to exaggerate the fanciful victory. Earlier this year, Modi claimed that the Balakot strikes had killed around 300 terrorists and wrecked the training centers of Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), the terrorist organization associated with the attack on India’s Central Reserve Force (CPRF) on 15th February 2019. This move was to boost his political stature. However, reports emanating from the international media and onsite verification have exposed the erroneous claims. This again turned into a nightmare for the Indian Prime Minister as the Pakistan armed forces retaliated with robust strength, following the capture of the Indian pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan and shooting down the Mig-21. Subsequently, Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj clarified that no Pakistani citizen was killed in the aerial strikes, which brings more ambiguity to this case.
However, this disaster occurred at a very critical time, i.e. one month before the Lok Sabha elections. Given that Modi couldn’t embark on the election campaign with such a humiliation affixed to him, he took matters to space. On 27th March 2019, India conducted an anti-satellite missile (ASAT) test. Modi’s violence-centred hysteria can be calculated from the statement he made following the ASAT test, in which he termed it as a “surgical strike in space.” This test created space debris which will have serious implications in the near future. Space is a global commons and hence should be kept free from such offensive activities.
Prime Minister Modi has also stepped up with modernization of the Indian military, taking colossal steps such as integrating artificial intelligence into the military sector. The diversification of the weapons is coming at a stage when there is no obvious threat. He is effectively triggering an arms race in the South Asian region, and challenging strategic stability.
In the ongoing elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has decided to allow Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur to contest elections from Bhopal. Singh is already under trial for her involvement in the Malegaon bombings of 2008. Moreover, when asked if there was any regret over the demolition of the Babri Mosque, Singh replied, “Why would we regret the demolition of the Babri Masjid? We are, in fact, proud of it. There were some waste products of the Ram temple and we removed it. This has awakened the self-respect of our country and we will construct a grand Ram temple.”
The most pertinent question that arises for Mr Modi in the given scenario is whether he would allow a Muslim battling similar allegations as that of Sadhvi Singh, to contest the elections. The answer seems to be a glaringly obvious ‘No’. Hence, this discriminatory conduct poses a challenge to the future of the 201 million Muslims who reside in India, as Modi wouldn’t be hesitant to provide such extremists a passageway to the parliament.
The objective of the above stated argument is to accentuate the fact that Narendra Modi accuses Pakistan of terrorism, but in reality, his own policies are an amalgamation of aggressiveness and loathsomeness. The U.S. State Department has enough reasons to revoke Modi’s application for a U.S. visa, and in fact, he was not issued one because of his track record until he became Prime Minister of India. Modi is a leader whose own citizens fear him due to his brutal policies. He has been termed as the “butcher of Gujrat” due to the atrocities committed there under his direction to the police which allowed the attacks to be perpetrated. His irrational policies towards Kashmir are secret to none. The government has used the armed forces in order to suppress the Kashmiri struggle and this runs parallel with loss of lives and the blinding of a large number of Kashmiris. This suppression will not terminate the Kashmiri struggle; rather it can explode in ways India would have least imagined, such as the 15th February suicide attack conducted by a 19 year old boy who killed 44 Indian soldiers.
When the Berlin wall fell in 1989, then American President George H.W Bush did not proclaim victory; rather he gave a muted response. This was based on the rationale to avoid straining relations with the USSR in the future, thereby signalling quality leadership. Modi on the other hand, claimed it as a personal victory when Wing Commander Abhinandan was released, despite the fact that this was goodwill gesture exercised by Pakistan.
Pakistan has always directed its efforts to establish peace between the two countries. When Prime Minister Imran Khan took charge of office, he was of the view that both India and Pakistan should work together for the betterment of the region and was willing to negotiate with India. However, the dangerous aspirations of Modi, solely catering to his political interests, will not only damage relations between the two countries but will also lead to internal instability in India.
Shaza Arif is a student of Defence and Diplomatic Studies at Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi, Pakistan.