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Editorial: Modi’s Pakistan Policy Has Made India an Object of Ridicule

A bevy of masked officials harassing Indians outside the Pakistan High Commission in the presence of foreign diplomats is undignified and petty.

The spectre of masked Indian officials, escorted by policemen, standing outside the Pakistan High Commission and invoking guests not to attend the reception hosted by the High Commission on the eve of Pakistan’s National Day is going to haunt India for a long time. It was a bizarre occurrence, ridiculous in the extreme, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent his best wishes to his Pakistani counterpart, Imran Khan at the very same moment his officials — ostensibly as part of government policy — were bullying Indians from not wishing Pakistan.

“I extend my greetings and best wishes to the people of Pakistan on the National Day of Pakistan. It is time that people of sub-continent work together for a democratic, peaceful, progressive and prosperous region, in an atmosphere free of terror and violence,” Modi wrote to Imran Khan. If Modi was extending a courtesy to Imran Khan, attending a National Day event is also common courtesy expected from a big, self-confident nation with global aspirations. It is a bizarre argument and petty behaviour on the part of the government to harass ordinary Indian invitees outside a foreign mission.

The Modi government had officially boycotted this reception at Delhi; the ostensible reason: protesting the invite to leaders of the Hurriyat Conference. But in the past four years when the Modi government has been in power, Pakistan High Commission has sent invites to Hurriyat Conference, and the Modi government has sent union ministers to attend the event. The same government had VK Singh in 2015, Prakash Javadekar in 2016, MJ Akbar in 2017 and GS Shekhawat in 2018. It should be emphasised that Hurriyat leaders were invited on each of these occasions.

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The only thing that has changed in 2019 is the impending General Elections where the Modi government is staring at the wrath of the people over its dismal record of the past five years. It hopes to fan emotional issues to distract from real concerns of the people, and uses most of the mainstream media to amplify the distractions. That this happened on a day Caravan broke a major story on a diary of BJP leader and former Karnataka CM, BS Yeddyurappa, which allegedly show payments of over Rs 1,800 crore to the BJP and top union ministers in the Modi government, makes everything crystal clear. It is a government running scared of the people of the country, covering up facts about its corrupt ways and planting irrelevant stories to fool the masses somehow. But the people have seen through the jumlas of Modi and his minions.

At a diplomatic level, the behaviour and approach of the Modi government on Friday evening does not behove a country of India’s stature. If Modi government wants to act against Pakistan, it has many diplomatic options: downgrade the missions, shut them down, or at least pass official orders which bar anyone from visiting Pakistan High Commission. A bevy of masked officials harassing Indians outside the Pakistan High Commission in the presence of foreign diplomats and guests is undignified and petty. It only reduces India’s stature in the world and ends up making the country an object of ridicule globally. When India becomes a butt of jokes, Indians are ashamed and made to feel small. In the dying days of his government, diminishing India and Indians seems to be the only diplomatic achievement of Narendra Modi.

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