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Modi-Led India Turns Tables on Pakistan with its Diplomatic Aggression

By Rajeev Sharma*
Waiting to meet his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif at Ufa, Russia, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took precisely two small steps –physically, not symbolically – to receive him with a measured smile, going by what the cameras caught.
Nothing happened and nothing could have happened at this bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Council.
Nothing substantial was expected between the two neighbours, given the mood before the meeting. The usual atmospherics were absent. Sharif’s side wanted to discuss “all issues, including Kashmir” and the Indian side wanted to highlight terrorism.
On the other hand, there was firing along the Line of Control (Loc), killing one BSF jawan and some retaliatory firing by the Indian side, indicating casualties on the other side as well. This is the usual backdrop to any summit level meeting that has taken place in the last many years between the two sides.
Two additional factors clouded the talks. One of the two was the Pakistani charge, quoting a BBC report that lacked credibility for not cross-checking information – a piece of bad journalism coming from the hallowed British broadcaster, alleging that leaders of Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), Pakistan’s fourth largest political party, have been receiving funds from RAW, India’s external intelligence agency. The refrain was picked by the Pakistani Government and significantly, also the powerful Army that accused Indian of trying to ‘destabilise’ Pakistan.
India dismissed the whole thing. Luckily motor-mouths and over-enthusiastic hawks of the academic and political variety did not go to town. The United States’ State Department said it had received no information or evidence from Pakistan making these allegations. And then, the London Metropolitan Police itself denied the documents on which the BBC story was based.
The MQM is being targeted anyway because of its political shenanigans, especially of its London-based chief, Altaf Husain, whom the British also want for alleged money laundering and involvement in the murder of a party dissident. The BBC story came just handy. That it had quoted a single Pakistani official made it worthy of being thrown into the dustbin.
The other issue was India’s repeated protests at Zakiur Rahman Lakhvi, whom it considers mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, being released on bail. This has been topped with China blocking the Indian effort to take the matter up at the United Nations. When Modi raised it at Ufa with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the latter said there was scope for fuller discussions. This means China cannot ignore the Indian protest even as it fully supports Pakistan on the issue.
For a change, India is the aggressor on the diplomatic front and Pakistan is compelled to react. The Modi Government has maintained a blow-hot-blow-cold approach, ignoring pressures from outside (read the US) and at home by bleed-heart peaceniks. But it does take note of the well-meaning analysts who rightly underline the fact that not talking is not a solution.
Further, Modi is taking up Indo-Pak issues with the Chinese leadership as never before, realizing very well that Sino-Pak confluence on all issues in the region is total. China needs Pakistan as the latter needs China. The two are together in Afghanistan and even at Ufa, India’s entry to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was combined with Pakistan’s at China’s instance.
A day after the Modi-Xi meeting, the Chinese foreign office came up with a defence that its stand on Lakhvi is “based on facts.” Obviously, the ‘facts’ are as supplied by Pakistan, since Islamabad also keeps harping that there is “no evidence” on Lakhvi’s role.
Lakhvi is closely related to LeT chief and Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed. Saeed is supposed to have snapped ties with the LeT and insists that JUD is only a charitable organization.
Pakistan has been defying the USA and the world community on this score and has refused to ban JUD and take action against Saeed.
On this, an editorial in Dawn (July 10, 2015) on the day Modi and Sharif met, is instructive.
It says: “ Perhaps one of the main reasons why militancy continues to thrive in Pakistan is that the government refuses to emerge from its state of denial where certain extremist outfits are concerned. The remarks made by Minister for States and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch in the Senate on Tuesday are a reflection of this.
“Mr Baloch said that as there was no evidence to link Jamaatud Dawa with Lashkar-e-Taiba, it would not be possible to proscribe the former, which he termed a ‘charity’ outfit. The statement seems to echo the ‘good militant, bad militant’ line apparently pursued by Pakistan’s security establishment. While the minister is yet to discover any solid evidence, and while JuD chief Hafiz Saeed may deny all links, the fact is that Jamaatud Dawa and LeT enjoy a symbiotic relationship. After the latter was banned in 2002, it began operating under the JuD moniker — itself a new take on Jamaatud Dawa wal Irshad formed in the 1980s at the height of the Afghan jihad. Hafiz Saeed was a key figure in LeT and it is no coincidence that both groups’ infrastructure and memberships overlap.
“The minister’s remarks in the Senate point to the persistent problem of militant groups rebranding themselves after proscription and carrying on as usual.”
Dawn further says: “This phenomenon is not limited to JuDeT.  Jaish-e-Mohammad, Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan and Tehreek-i-Jafariya Pakistan — all supposedly banned— have renamed themselves after proscription. Only the names have changed; the leaderships, infrastructure and activities remain the same.”
Nothing more needs to be said on this.
*The writer is a New Delhi-based independent journalist and a strategic analyst who tweets @Kishkindha.