Afrah Jamal |
Implications of a Modi – Trump style ‘meet and greet’
As Mr. Modi descended upon Washington, armed with Kashmiri shawls, tea, honey, and personalized invites for the first family to visit India, the U.S. media hastened to find parallels between the two nations. Democracies both (biggest / oldest), led by men with a degree of social-media savvy, men indifferent to public opinion and sporting unique greeting styles – hugs from Modi, handshakes from Trump.
Pakistan wasn’t far from India’s thoughts and opinion makers now, wonder, at the extent that Modi can shape Mr. Trump’s view on Pakistan given that the Trump presidency is at a formative stage.
Seen from afar, the show stopping performance yielded significant results, strengthened defense cooperation and secured 22 new Guardian drones. Commentators noted that contentious issues like H1-B work visas and climate change etc. were reportedly left out in the cold while detractors brooded over the symbolism that signaled the arrival of a new world order. As with all these visits, Pakistan wasn’t far from India’s thoughts and opinion makers now, wonder, at the extent that Modi can shape Mr. Trump’s view on Pakistan given that the Trump presidency is at a formative stage.
Read more: India’s clandestine war inside Pakistan
Searching for a proper riposte to the new normal
Modi’s diplomatic juggernaut aimed at redefining strategic parameters, social climbing and building sustainable partnerships are to be expected in this uncertain environment.
The U.S. approach towards Islamabad has already undergone not so subtle shifts since 20th January 2017. The rise of China and the return of Russia as a stakeholder in regional politics make their pivot towards India a necessary evil. Modi’s diplomatic juggernaut aimed at redefining strategic parameters, social climbing and building sustainable partnerships are to be expected in this uncertain environment. The Indian lobby bets on the right horse and is simply capitalizing on its investment.
And Pakistan’s response needs to keep the advice of a former U.S. first lady in mind – “when they go low, we go high.” While Mr. Modi may have insinuated himself in Trump’s good graces, Pakistan holds the trump card at the moment and that gives them significant leverage provided they can wield it wisely. That they have lost major ground notwithstanding their strategic importance in the regional great game should serve as a warning sign to proceed with caution.
India’s bluster in context
Modi went on to G-20 urging the world community to ban terror sponsors from summits while equating LeT and JeM to ISIS / Al Qaeda as far as toxic ideology goes.
Interestingly, while India is amassing allies in far flung areas, she has managed to alienate her neighbors, fueled the freedom movement in Kashmir and incensed beef eaters back home. That’s quite an achievement. Later, Modi went on to G-20 urging the world community to ban terror sponsors from summits while equating LeT and JeM to ISIS / Al Qaeda as far as toxic ideology goes. These names are already on the proscribed outfits list; Indians need to update their inventory and dial down the terrorism rhetoric. The ones at the receiving end of TTP, Al Qaeda, ISIS guns – the ones actually paying the price are on the job.
Meanwhile, efforts to cast their neighbor as a pariah state continue, though Pakistan’s sacrifices and successes are quantifiable; her status as an economically stable state, inevitable, and expertise in counter-terrorism, undeniable. That last bit is crucial.
The recently finalized Pak-Afghan agreement to conduct joint operations against terrorist havens should be taken as a hopeful sign in these dark times. Ultimately, despite New Delhi’s tactics of deflecting blame, Washington’s reservations and plans at keeping Islamabad on notice, Pakistan remains a vital piece of the global chessboard. In the end, it will not be India’s shenanigans on the global platform but Pakistan’s performance on the domestic front that will determine the durability of its international relations.
Afrah Jamal is a freelance writer. She is the editor of “In Conversation with Legends – History in Session”. She had also been writing for Daily Times, Lahore, and was the editor of Social Pages, Karachi. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.