Author : Sushant Sareen

Originally Published 2019-12-26 13:05:31 Published on Dec 26, 2019
The superciliousness of western media is surpassed only by Pakistan's unabashed statements on CAA and preaching secularism to India.
Pakistan is fishing in troubled waters by protesting against CAA

Apart from the economy, if there is one thing in which the Modi government has always found itself behind the curve, it is strategic communications and messaging. Whether it is the revocation of Article 370 in August or the recent Citizenship (Amendment) Act, or CAA, the government has just been unable to clearly and cogently shape the narrative both within the country and outside.

Western ignorance

As a result, it has opened itself to all sorts of vile accusations, innuendos and insinuations by its detractors. Internationally, the ‘liberal’ Western media has firmly fixed Prime Minister Narendra Modi in its crosshairs.

Most Western journalists have very little idea of the complexity of India or even the context in which certain decisions are taken. They haven’t even bothered to read, much less understand, the law against which they are holding forth so passionately. Their go-to people are the usual suspects in India who harbour visceral, even pathological, hatred for anything which is even remotely Hindu and/or BJP/Modi. No surprise then that an utterly ill-informed, and bordering on the sinister, campaign has been launched by the Western media against the Modi government. An impression is being created as though Indian Muslims are being disenfranchised and being made stateless. This is total nonsense of course.

But try telling that to the supercilious Western media. So far, most Western governments haven’t really acted on the patently false and misleading narrative that the Western media has been building upon CAA. However, there are signs that a very damaging negative perception of India, deliberately and systematically being constructed by the so-called ‘liberals’ in the West against the Modi government, is now starting to get some traction at the societal level if not the state level. The sort of gratuitous comments that the US, British and some European politicians have been making suggest that going forward things could get a bit complicated for India. More so, if the economy doesn’t pick up steam soon and the government is unable to douse some of the fires that are being lit by its political adversaries at home.

Regionally, things are a bit more mixed. There hasn’t been any real negative reaction from Afghanistan. Our National Security Adviser would have certainly explained the need for CAA to his Afghan counterpart when they met a few days back.

Mature neighbours

Bangladesh is slightly miffed, but this is due to its government’s domestic political compulsions to some extent. It is also probably an outcome of things being lost in translation. Union home minister Amit Shah repeatedly pointed out that Hindus had faced persecution in the interregnum between the 1975 coup against Sheikh Mujibur Rehman and the victory of Sheikh Hasina in 2008, clearly absolving the Awami League of any role in the matter. The wrinkles in the relationship are likely to be smoothened out on account of the maturity on both sides.

Pakistan, the third country mentioned in the CAA, has reacted predictably and laughably, even passing a resolution in its National Assembly. You know that the Pakistanis are really burnt up when they start to invoke Gandhi and Nehru and remind India of its commitment to secularism and its pluralistic culture. Imagine an unabashed Islamic state (pun entirely intended) like Pakistan preaching virtues of secularism to India! The irony is that Pakistan came into existence when Gandhi and Nehru were around. Today, with what face are they talking of the India of Gandhi and Nehru when they saw that India as a Hindu Rashtra? Everything that Pakistanis say today about the RSS and BJP was said about the Congress in the 1940s. And since the Partition, Pakistan has always disparaged India’s secularism.

Islamabad’s CAA ploy

In any case, what is Pakistan protesting about? That Pakistani Muslims are going to be denied Indian citizenship? What is their entitlement on India? Are Pakistani Muslims also persecuted in the Islamic state and, therefore, escaping to India which is denying them citizenship? Is Pakistan resentful that India is giving succour to religious minorities being persecuted by the Islamic State of Pakistan? Or is it that India isn’t opening its doors to Shias and Ahmadis so that Pakistan can get rid of them and become a pristine Sunni state? What is Pakistan’s record on this matter regarding Biharis, Bengalis, Burmese, and Afghans, who have been living in there for decades, many of them born in Pakistan and entitled to citizenship under the country’s law and yet denied it?

Are Pakistanis saying all these ‘stateless’ people should also be entitled to Indian citizenship but not that of Pakistan? While Pakistani protests must be rejected with the contempt they deserve, India must not ignore them fishing in our troubled waters over CAA. The Pakistani military spokesman has already indicated as much. The glee in Pakistan over disturbances on Indian streets is also not hidden. India must prepare itself for Pakistan instigating Indian Muslims to indulge in terrorism and violence.

This commentary originally appeared in Mail Today.

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Sushant Sareen

Sushant Sareen

Sushant Sareen is Senior Fellow at Observer Research Foundation. His published works include: Balochistan: Forgotten War, Forsaken People (Monograph, 2017) Corridor Calculus: China-Pakistan Economic Corridor & China’s comprador   ...

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