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Don’t behave like an expansionist nation, FM Shah advises India

FM Shah advises India to focus on domestic challenges and not to become an expansionist nation. India should not “ignite border disputes with every neighbor” and must focus on addressing of grievances of minorities at home, he said. Don’t behave like an expansionist nation, said FM Shah.

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Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Sunday advised the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government to focus on its domestic issues instead of “behaving like an expansionist nation”. The FM suggested India to focus on what is going on ‘inside’ and must not be an expansionist force in the region. He also advised PM Modi that “don’t behave like an expansionist nation”.

In a series of tweets, Qureshi said: “It would serve PM Modi’s government and ‘neighborhood first’ policy well to realize India’s neighbors pose far less of a problem than their own domestic inadequacies, failures and fascism.”

The foreign minister also criticized India for “igniting border disputes with every neighbor” and said that the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party government should be “focused on serving the poor, downtrodden and minorities of India better”.

Prime Minister Imran, through a tweet on Thursday, offered to “help and share [the government’s] successful cash transfer program, lauded internationally for its reach and transparency, with India”. The PTI government has launched the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme under which about 12 million lower-income families each received Rs12,000 to cover basic needs for three months.

The prime minister’s offer came after a study by the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Chicago and the Mumbai-based Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy (CMIE) concluded that about 84 per cent of Indian households were suffering from a decline in income due to the pandemic.

In addition to the economic setback, the virus has also fuelled hate against Muslims in India as well as insecurities among the poor people who have lost work due to the government’s measures to curb the spread.

Analysts believe that the current Indian government is pursuing a policy of appeasement since it has failed to perform on economic fronts. Saleha Anwar, a Lahore-based political analyst, believes that “India under Modi has become a battlefield between Muslims and Hindus sending economy on second in the list of priorities.

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This is likely to be the biggest challenge for the Indian liberal and secular voices to maintain order in a highly diverse and complex society. Treating 200 million people as a minority, that too vulnerable, may adversely impact India’s current political settings.

Indian forces often resort to aggression at the Line of Control (LoC), the de facto border along the disputed Kashmir region, and target soldiers as well as civilians in “unprovoked” attacks, which results in damage to both life and property.

“Don’t behave like an expansionist nation”

Apart from its disputes with Pakistan, India is currently engaged in a standoff with China’s forces in the remote snow desert of Ladakh where hundreds of soldiers have been ranged against each other since April in the most serious border flare-ups for years after Chinese patrols advanced into what India deems its side of the de facto border.

Both sides are holding talks and, according to an Indian official, after weeks of tension — including an incident in which patrolling soldiers from the two sides came to blows on the banks of Pangong Lake, resulting in injuries — friction has eased somewhat.

Another conflict India is involved in is with Nepal, who has protested to India over a border road, which it claims traverses its territory. New Delhi denies the charge.

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Protests in Nepal were also fuelled from a new map of the region India drew after the bifurcation of occupied Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories in December last year.

The rise of extremism in India

It is important to note that Indian politics is being shaped by the extremist politicians and strategists who intend to wipe out the Muslim minority from India. Dr. Moeed Pirzada, a prominent political commentator and columnist, recently noted that “Ram Rath Yatra, Mandal Commission, Ram Janma Bhoni movement, Attack on Babri Mosque, Demolition of Babri Mosque, Bombay riots, Nuclear Explosions of 1997, Kargil Conflict, Attack on Indian Parliament, Mobilization against Pakistan, Gujrat Pogroms, Mumbai terrorism everything in one or the other was skillfully utilized in redefining Indian narrative and politics moving it ever closer to the realization of a Hindu Rashtra which now exists in reality though it still needs a legal and constitutional cover”.

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The emerging trends in India offer us a sufficient amount of evidence that the rise of identity politics in India is to overshadow Modi’s dismaying economic performance. This is wrong with identitarian politics in the age of populism.”

Similarly, while commenting on the state of the economy, Indian writer and human rights activist, Arundhati Roy notes that “while Modi has delivered on Hindu nationalism, he has stumbled badly on the free-market front. Through a series of blunders, he has brought India’s economy to its knees.