Everyone wants a piece of Modi, except Nawaz

Published: October 5, 2015
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ndian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during the closing session of 18th SAARC summit in Kathmandu. PHOTO: REUTERS

Seated firmly at the breakfast table in his luxurious presidential suite at the Waldorf Astoria, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should ideally be a relieved man for two reasons. Firstly, his speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) garnered positive reviews from even the most critical detractors at home.

‘We hate you but the speech was great’ is the mantra of the day.

Secondly, it received absolutely no importance from the international media and other world leaders. While CNN had initially entertained the thought of covering it, a story on gay Russian citizens made the editor think otherwise:

“Calls for demilitarisation of Kashmir? Nah, go for the gays in Moscow.”

Across the border in India, many have similarly chosen to ‘ignore the statements’ made by the Pakistani prime minister, including Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar,

“We need not listen to others on what we should do in our country. If anyone speaks anything about our country then I will prefer to ignore it.”

Since it is his third stint as the nation’s premier, Sharif is well aware that whatever is acknowledged at home and forgotten overseas cannot be so bad after all.

However, as patrons of his party unite in commending their very own National Security Advisor, Sartaj Aziz, for his ability to draft immaculate manuscripts at the age of 105, it would remain difficult for the Prime Minister to stay content for long. The reason is quite obvious: India’s eccentric Prime Minister Modi.

For the characteristically envious Sharif, nothing could taste more bitter than the praise and glory afforded to his rival over the past week.

At home, Sharif has to endure a tenure that is increasingly marked by Raheel Sharif’s celebrated military leadership. It has now become commonplace to be grateful to Raheel Sharif before dinner is served in many households across Pakistan.

But, whereas this fits in with the larger patterns of Pakistan’s history, the emergence of a dynamic Indian honcho with the world in his fists is something Sharif could not have anticipated. If only Sharif knew how to take selfies and understood the intricacies of Snapchat.

The Indian prime minister’s ‘Digital India’ campaign has been a bigger PR success story than his ‘Make in India’ prerogative, and is likely to remain so until his ‘Procreate in India’ campaign takes shape early next year.

Zuckerberg, Musk, Cook and the ‘did you know Microsoft’s CEO is Indian’ guy – all were present to tap into the world’s largest market for cheap labour, comprising of people adept at mathematics and C++. By the time of the UNGA speech, Modi met everyone but Sharif. The two leaders merely waved at one another before the Leader’s Summit on Peacekeeping.

Digital India’ is the government’s attempt to permeate access to internet facilities throughout India, primarily so that people may benefit from digitally-enabled government services even in the most remote parts of India. The inspiration likely stems from Modi’s fascination with the Bollywood cinema of the 1980s, in which everything disagreeable happened because of the nepotism and bribery prevalent in hospitals, police stations and courts. A young Modi vowed that future generations would not grow up to such harsh realities. Henceforth, today, Bollywood reflects many of the ideals epitomised in Digital India’s ambitions: it has nothing to do with the on-ground reality.

Due to his enterprise, India’s leaps in soft power outpace it’s much celebrated hard power gains. The harsher realities of income inequality, arbitrary taxes, community-based marginalisation and below-par exports such as Katti Batti have failed to chase away greedy investors. India now leads the world as the number one Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) destination – trumping even the bootlegging industrialists in China.

Unlike his rival across the LoC, Modi has genuine reasons to smile. As rote learning India’s growth rates and economic prospects has become the surest way to political know-how in much of the world, I will consciously refrain from mentioning the dreaded statistics here. It would suffice to say that India continues to sidestep many lingering economic hurdles that affect the global economy. The Wall Street Journal has gone so far as to state that India is the ‘world’s best hope’ for a complete economic recovery. This proposition also holds true for Pakistani actresses that face blasphemy charges at home.

Modi’s spirit is infectious: journalists, writers and actors follow Modi’s persona and antics with remarkable zest. Modi’s ‘selfie with your daughter’ campaign had everyone in India polishing their selfie sticks. In Bihar, a father took a selfie with his 12-year-old daughter before marrying her off to a tree, showing that he truly has become progressive. Thanks, Modi!

Somewhere in Delhi, plans are underway to customise the Modi app for the new iPad Pro.

In Mumbai, film producers are flocking to get rights to the prime minister’s story for a Bollywood biopic.

In Madhya Pradesh, students who had bribed Modi’s fellow Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politicians want their money back.

Everyone wants a piece of Modi and it is not difficult to see why.

Modi is the homegrown Tyson: someone who rose up from the streets, has a history of domestic violence and won’t shy away from aggression. India’s diplomats have picked up on the habit. The testosterone-fed foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup showed little restraint when he launched a scathing Twitter-based offensive to counter Sharif’s UNGA escapade.

“Pakistan is not primary victim of terrorism but of its own policies. It is in fact the prime sponsor of terrorism”, blurted the spokesman just before he reached his word limit. The Indian bureaucracy’s confidence has reached an all-time high, aware that its government won’t budge down due to external pressures, unlike the ‘wimps’ from Congress.

In the realist enterprise of the international state system, one in which efforts at liberal institutionalism have faced increasing setbacks from real world interests, Modi fits in like a glove. Sharif, after decades of army coups, artery-clogging dieting and counter strategising tabdeeli efforts, has been left fatigued and melancholic.

A hundred yards away, nestled in the very same hotel, Prime Minister Modi’s demeanour exemplifies that of a not-out, triple centurion on the last over of the day. Flower bouquets from countless embassies and world leaders pour in, and although flowers and gifts have remained banned at the 7 Race Course Road since Pakistan began focusing on tactical nukes, the prime minister has made an exception during this particular trip.

To his credit, the Pakistani prime minister met Bill Gates, who urged him to keep up his polio drive. He also met Secretary of State John Kerry, who urged him to keep up the fight against terrorism. He is also rumoured to have met Declan Walsh, but the meeting ended abruptly when Walsh compulsively asked for copies of Sharif’s degree (as per an unidentified source).

Back at the Pakistani prime minister’s suite, Sharif finishes his meditative hour long morning meal. Wiping his brow clean, he stares into the lucid Manhattan skyline outside his window, shrugs and asks himself,

“How come I don’t have an app?”

Just then, a political aide walks in with glad tidings from back home: in fierce competition, the Chief Minister of Punjab Shahbaz Sharif has proudly announced his Analog Punjab campaign.

Ali Umair

Ali Umair

He works as a media consultant for leading multinational organizations and NGOs within the country. He writes intermittently for various publications. He tweets as @AliUmair (twitter.com/AliUmair)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

More by this writer

  • Videlicet

    Good blog. Hilarious at places and cynical at others. Good that you understand that you’ve to aim the stone at the moon to bring down just a mango.Recommend

  • Average Indian

    hilariousRecommend

  • zoro

    Hilarious read !!! with a real touch thou ….Recommend

  • rtnguy

    Nawaz sharif is a jokeRecommend

  • Mohammed Nabeel Pervez

    What we must accept is that Modi truly has been great for India, whatever his previous faults and India is well and surely on the rise. If Nawaz can erase terrorism from Pakistan, with the army’s help of course, I’ll be really grateful to him.
    Although I do believe we need a dynamic leader. But who’s in the pool? Imran Khan? Recommend

  • Rohan

    Grow up Pakistan, stop obsessing over
    1- Hindu
    2- India
    3- narendra ModiRecommend

  • Newton

    This blog tells me a few things:
    1. Pakistanis know everything happening in India especially concerning Modi.
    2. They never fail to mock Bollywood but can’t have enough of it.
    3. They are a bit confused as to how to deal with a proactive India – emulate them, mock them or be condescending?
    Kinda reminds me of poor Nelson.Recommend

  • AllamaIqbal

    India is the next big thing…pakistanis may not like this,but whole world knows this…Today Angela Merkel is in India to have some good business deals…..Tommorow we have a scheduled deals with incoming foreign ministers of France,Russia etc…There is an Indo-African forum that will take place in this month chaired bu zacob Zuma from south africa with many prime ministers from various african countries….This time saudi rulers other middle east countries had been invited to co-chair the forum….China’s economy is now down and out….this is the major worry for pakistan which depends on china for most of its technological and infrastructure need..but alas..i beleive one day pakistan will leave kashmir and join the success story of India……u people too can work in Indian will global IT and digital companies……think of this…earning 3 times the money u earn in pakistan..just next door…..Recommend

  • Abhishek Chaturvedi

    if pakistan becomes a strong economy someday… which is highly doubtful … then yes … nawaz will be treated in a different way…Recommend

  • Brutus

    OK, overall a good write up, I must say. With a slight bit of jealousy, a little sarcasm here & there and Modimania (albeit moderate) now a usual trait for Pakistanis, still makes this blog readable. It’s unfair to compare rich n’ delicate Janab Nawaj Sharif with a ruffian like Modi the Chaiwallah, simply because the latter is an absolute owner of his kiosk, whereas Janab Sharif’s cafeteria is run by another Sharif!
    As for selfies, just look at the audacity of Chaiwallah sir, he is currently busy taking selfies with the world’s most powerful woman, Angela Merkel in Delhi!
    God save us faithfuls!!Recommend

  • http://delurk.wordpress.com/ Geekay

    Strangely for me, your lingo is shining and flows. It was leaving many hues on my face as I went though to the end. Of course, as you were being from Pakistan, so your world view was going to be antagonistic. But, having taken that all in my stride, I thought, it would be lovely to read more of you.Recommend

  • RameshHeg

    You, me, every one in the wide world know Nawaz also wants a piece of Modi.
    The “boys” won’t let him.Recommend

  • Jilani Chaudhari

    A mean-spirited article. Towards both Nawaz Sharif and Modi. It is not journalism but a cynical opinion.Recommend

  • Rab Rakhaa

    Modi and India is like a Never Ending Pizza that is a money making machine these days.China’s economy is slowing down and India is the only bright spot on world economy….China for its own economic benefit would also like to trade with India…Its in pakistan best interest to decide whether they want to be a part of success story and lift people out of poverty or they want kashmir which they will never get atleast till next 1400 years………Recommend

  • hp kumar

    .modi will not disappoint you peopleRecommend

  • kartikey mishra

    CANT GET WHAT R U TRYING TO SAYRecommend

  • Sashidhar Unni

    A masterpiece of prose! Tongue in cheek articles of such sophistication are very rare to come across. Take a bow, Ali!!!Recommend

  • OSD

    I don’t get this blog. Does the writer imply that Pakistan lost out at the UNGA while Mr Modi returned triumphant due to his meeting with Mark Zuckerburg? Do tweets by Vikas Swarup have more clout than the PM’s speech at the UNGA? Is Manohar Parikar’s comment so demoralizing that we should now start a dharna to protest the crushing defeat that the PM suffered at UNGA? Please note that in the context of the international political environment, Pakistan has made the most of this opportunity for a speech at UNGA. We got our message across and forced India to make a defensive speech. No one expected the resolution of the Kashmir Issue with this single event. With regards to Mr Modi’s very warm welcome in the USA, kindly note that the many corporations in America view India as a lucrative market, and the US government views India as its new pawn against China. We can not break that but Pakistan is taking effective countermeasures by reaching out Russia, China, Iran and the Central Asian States. In view of the progress we have made, i am convinced that the Pakistani Govt is making a great strides in its diplomacy than the asthmatic performance of the current Indian Govt. So please dont jump over the cliff just yet.Recommend

  • Jay

    The author should write about fairy tales and stop concerning about what Indian does. In reality Pakistan is a no show for the world. Comparing India to Pak is a grave offense, Pak is more like in Sudan or a Ghana, Ethiopia leagueRecommend

  • Shehryar

    Obsessing over moodi
    Seriously??
    Same guy who was banned to enter US??
    @ all Indians
    Counting Pakistan in Ethiopia and Sudan’s league clearly gives you a lot of pleasure but the world knows that Pakistan remained well ahead of India in every walk of life and that too in its own classy/original way which India lacks completely.
    It has always been the case of quantity vs quality for the world when it comes to India and pak.
    It’s been a different case since last decade . Pakistan is a country at war .
    a war that is brutal ,unprecedented and something indians can’t imagine dealing with.
    So clearly its an offence comparing pak with India cz its the circumstantial difference we’re talking about.
    Pakistani nation is successfully fighting and rising from a menace that has toppled many countries in the last decade.
    So its a different potential and class altogether when it comes to Pakistan ,comparing it with India is no less than being foolish. Recommend

  • Shehryar

    And yes Pakistanis are concerned about moodi
    And we should be
    A person who butchered thousands in Gujarat and has been known for his hatred becomes pm in the country next door
    Surely It’s a matter of huge concernRecommend

  • Arbit

    “It has now become commonplace to be grateful to Raheel Sharif before dinner is served in many households across Pakistan.”
    Hahaha…epic level trolling by the author :)Recommend

  • Vectra

    India is rightly being called elephant and tortoise combo,elephant because it walks show but never stops and keep moving forward even when there is a lion sitting on its way forcing the lion to to blink and move away and tortoise because slow and steady wins the race which is applicable even in real economic world.Hail IndiaRecommend

  • Arbit

    Classy? Quality vs quantity? My god you live in your own little world don’t you. I agree that indians tend to go overboard on pakistani sites while praising india and it has a lot to do and catch up on. But sir, pray give some shining examples of this Pakistani “Class” and “quality” and educate us classless folks.Recommend

  • ja

    If what u say is true then i am the king of mars ! and i am banning you from landing on Mars ! No Martian visa for any Pakistani i declare this on Pakistani newspaper. I will also tell my brother who rules Saturn to cancel any Pakistani visa applications.Recommend

  • jayant

    Actually more men women kids died when Jinnah gave call for direct action day in bengal.Recommend

  • Ahmed Wani

    Lets see how does or can pakistan built its CPEC….let us see..how u make it….its an open challenge…we have no problem if u built it into your territory…but u are building in occupied territory of POK and Occupied Gilgit which is unacceptable….dude…Recommend

  • teraBAP

    Pakistan is boring. It’s people are boring. Media is full of hate news. People are suffering in Pakistan and all they want is kashmirRecommend

  • vasan

    Nice sarcasmRecommend

  • Lucky Star

    Again Indians talking to selves in a delusional manner, love listening to selves and praising selves. It was Nawaz who traveled for Modis inaugurations, Pakistanis are large hearted people,

    Gurantee you, the moderator will not approve my post, again proves my former assertion. Its too transparent, whether this gets pubished or not, you people are not taken seriously Recommend

  • Lucky Star

    No one cares in Pakistan, get over your obsession of Pakistan Recommend

  • waqar ali

    The characterization is unfair and wrong, the main points of NS speech were well covered by the media in US.Recommend

  • G. Din
  • Videlicet

    I agree what comparing India and Pak is unfair as they are in a different class from each other. Pakistan has indeed been faring badly due to domestic issues. But it was just an opinion of a blog writer, that too Pakistani, presumably! It is our hope, for the peace and stability of the region and for tourist and trade reasons, that Pakistan recover from the current difficulties and mindsets and seek a competitive position than a hostile one.

    “Same guy who was banned to enter US??”

    Is US visa department’s decision some kind of gold standard? ISO 9429? I’m curious as even some political parties in India opposing Modi think so too :-)Recommend

  • Videlicet

    Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. But I fail to see why it should concern you that much. Here is why:

    For the sake of argument let’s assume Modi’s ambition is to kill as many muslims as possible.
    1. What is the chance that he kills all the muslims in India? Next to zilch. Prime Minister of India/Cabinet is very powerful indeed but it is fettered by the laws and frameworks in a democratic environment and has massive responsibilities. The other powerful forces are Court, people, media and Election Commission that keep it in check.
    2. What is the chance he is done with India and starts looking for other countries to kill muslims in, such as, Pak? Are the chances high enough for you to be concerned?

    Your concern for a sixth of the population of a neighbouring country for following the same faith as you is well-placed. Should your priorities be your own safety from the discord and sectarian divide and violence due to systemic intolerance towards the different, poor economic performance, little voice of people/civil governance in important areas such as foreign policy, abysmal treatment of half of your population (women) or some ‘butcher’ who nowhere has even absolute powers in his country? You decide!Recommend

  • wb

    The quote in the end was beautiful.Recommend

  • Shehryar

    Most pathetic analogy everRecommend

  • Jor El

    “Gurantee you, the moderator will not approve my post, again proves my former assertion.”
    Ur post got approved, so r u saying that ur assertions wrong
    P.S. I do hope ur logic is better than ur spelling …Recommend

  • abhi

    funny indeed.Recommend

  • spaulcnn

    ‘”Pakistanis know everything happening in India” is quite an overstatement, to put it mildly. Their commentators (in the press and especially on tv) hold dated and archaic views on the rise of the Indian economy (US propping India up as counterweight to China, west investing because India buys arms, etc.), the Indian IT industry (they’re still stuck at the Indian call centers and cheap labor paradigm of the last decade). I’m yet to hear or read any learned analysis of the Indian success story by any Pakistani columnist.Recommend

  • Critical

    Strangely,there are more articles about Modi than about Nawaz Sharif in your newspapers…

    and now check how many articles about Nawaz Sharif appears in Indian newspapers???Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    I kinda enjoyed the article. 2 words of praise and one potshot.

    You can’t really expect Pakistanis to like Modi, can you. They are ok with Direct Action calling Jinnah, but Modi who didn’t even instigate the riots is an obvious villain. This has to do with irrational nationalism, coupled with lack of knowledge of history makes them so.

    Pakistan is in a vicious cycle. It is now fighting the monsters of the past and the Religion. Like a mother who can never accept the guilt of her son, Pakistanis are emotionally unable to recognize the misinterpretation of their Religion(which is frankly manifesting the exact same way all over the world – can’t be a coincidence) and to come to terms with their history. Thus the vicious cycle feeds on this Pakistani inability to course correct.

    Modi has not done so far which the previous PMs haven’t. LoC was hot even when Manmohan was PM and the Indian Army was given the go ahead to provide appropriate response for any cross border firing. Congress Govt too shied away from talks until Terror is eliminated. But, Modi is grabbing attention of the average Pakistani who rarely reads newspapers or doesn’t remember much after reading them.

    Modi is single handedly being responsible for increase in Radicalization in the Pakistani society. Of that he is definitely guilty.Recommend

  • Guest

    Nawaz doesn’t have personality. Musharraf did.. and he was treated differently despite the economy, terrorism and other negative factors. Modi similarly has personality.Recommend

  • NOUMAN ULLAH Khan

    India always creates problems. So we should adopt a strict policy against India . Unfortunately we have no any foreign policy and foreign minister who take all the decisions.we should eradicate all fears and be confident that we have second strike capability.if some one dare to attack on us we can retaliate as same manner.Recommend

  • Linux Novice

    Deterrorize Pak !Recommend

  • Gratgy

    You have a foreign minister, his name is
    Raheel Sharif, he takes all the foreign policy decisionsRecommend

  • Abhishek Chaturvedi

    dude during musharraf’s time pak economy was doing very well….better than india … it was a rising star…..and dats y he was treated differently … personality …well ok ..to some extent … but in the end ..its economy stupid waali cheez… :)Recommend

  • OSD

    excuse me?Recommend

  • OSD

    Then stop supporting terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan!Recommend

  • NOUMAN ULLAH Khan

    He is not only foreign minister he is all in all. and always gave you lesson . Recommend

  • Gratgy

    Lol, lesson on what? How to remote control your PM?Recommend

  • Linux Novice

    Tell it to ISI and Pak Army who created these monsters. India only helping brothers and sisters of Afghanistan to build their nation to be a prosperous one, which ISI tried it’s level best to destroy. Hypocrisy is that after doing this to them Pakistan is harping about Afghan refugees which is your own creation. And in the case of pakistan we need not bother, as the reason of the creation of your nation itself is your doom.Recommend

  • nishantsirohi123

    rising star … and then lal masjidRecommend

  • nishantsirohi123

    so u are actually proud of the fact that an army general is visiting economic events for pakistan

    that explains a lotRecommend

  • nishantsirohi123

    oh he knows class, for him poverty does not exist in pakistan, he does not acknowledge the existence of the areas of pakistan where his daddys pajero cannot take him
    also getting immigrated to canada or dubai does not count as rising from ashes, it is called running away from the burning stateRecommend

  • nishantsirohi123

    btw that “modi banned from USA” was a list that was prepared only by pakistani lobbyists of the republican partyRecommend

  • nishantsirohi123

    is it that hard to spell a 4 alphabet name ?

    or “not-indian” is the only merit u pakistanis can ever claimRecommend

  • Gratgy

    The only lesson he is trying to give seems to be a lesson in whining and making your PM look like a dehati aurat running to UN US China etcRecommend

  • Gratgy

    By the logic of Pakistanis, if Modi is a mass murderer for being in power during the Godhra riots,

    then by the same logic Nawaz Sharif and Raheel Shareef are mass child rapists for being in power during the Kasur IncidentRecommend

  • Abhishek Chaturvedi

    yeah…the downfall began…Recommend

  • Lucky Star

    thats how to get approved by shaming them….Recommend

  • OSD

    oh so that is what you are told in india? perhaps you should open your eyes and start thinking yourself..Recommend

  • Saad Hasan

    You should worry more about the radicalization that is making inroads in India. Pakistan has been exorcising its devils for the past decade, on the other hand Modi is fanning the flames of discord (which are currently being ignored because of the euphoria around his leadership style).

    Pakistan is actually on a radicalization reversal course and none of it is because of Modi as you infer. It is because of the internal fatigue and desire to have a more stable environment. As such Nawaz Sharif is probably the best choice available for Modi and India to deal with Pakistan. Anyone else coming after NS will neither be this reserved no so guarded in dealing with India.Recommend

  • Saad Hasan

    You can only present a challenge if you are able to put tangible obstructions in the way. Pakistan will make it work just like it has built KKH with the Chinese.Recommend

  • Saad Hasan

    If Pakistan is of such little consequence then should you not be mouthing off at a Chinese website berating them rather than wasting time at a Pakistani website?
    Pakistan breeds insecurity in Indian minds and this is the reason we see comments like “grave offense” and other silly insults about it.Recommend

  • Saad Hasan

    So lesson learned, the high and mighty can fall at anytime and anyplace. Modi beware!Recommend

  • Saad Hasan

    People are suffering? Have you been to Pakistan? On any given day, the quality of life for the poorest of the poor in Pakistan is as good or bad as his counterparts in India. I would wager that as miserable as the poor chap is, he is still better off than the poor in India.

    Secondly, if Pakistan is boring then what you are doing hanging out at a Pakistani news website?Recommend

  • Saad Hasan

    We are proud of our poverty. Its not as if India is some first world country. Get off your high horse…the arrogance is appalling! Having traveled widely, I know most Indians would prefer to migrate to the US or the west in general if given the choice. The same case as the rest of South Asia.Recommend

  • teraBAP

    Do you have trouble reading ? I said Pakistan is a boring place to live.
    Recommend

  • Abhishek Chaturvedi

    yep…applies to everyone …including modi.. xDRecommend

  • Linux Novice

    Unlike in Pak we people of India are not under military subjugation and are not taught a state narrative. We are free to go anywhere we please, read literature world over and free to think of our own and formulate opinions of owr own and voice it freely. You won’t understand madame who lives in a security state.Recommend

  • just_someone

    Because ET sees hits from you people.
    if you would do what we ask repeatedly, and shove off, the articles would go away too…Recommend

  • Raghu Reddy

    Plz tell that to ur news channels and newspapers. We r sick of Pakistanis telling us to get over with Pakistan . Why would I come to pak newspapers unless I get an article or two about India. The same with the guardian of UK. It never fails to write review of Indian movies . Don’t write about modi, India, or our situations .Recommend

  • Raghu Reddy

    Mistaken.Et is foreign owned. The trend was started by Dawn. What about dawn. It’s because of Indian viewers , u people have become more matured. Otherwise u would have had one sided views only as in 70 and 80 .Recommend

  • Raghu Reddy

    He said ,pak is radicalising because of modi. Read it right.Recommend

  • Raju Karnik

    hey u troll. ur here too? i sure ur a school kid looking at the comments u post on various Indian newspaper sites. why so much hate for the people who speak the truth. Only because they r from other religion?Recommend