Today’s India presents a very sorry figure as it stands in isolation

Published: March 21, 2018

Pakistan and India only seem to be growing apart, with no hope for a better future in sight. PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

When Narendra Modi started his innings as India’s prime minister four springs ago in 2014, he declared ‘neighbourhood first’ as the core of his foreign policy goal. He invited the heads of state of all the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries to witness the inauguration of his regime, and the entire atmosphere spelled out some hope for a peaceful future in a tense region.

This would not last long. Four years down the line, this policy remains a great non-starter – just more empty rhetoric from a politician who wants to win elections. New Delhi’s relationship with almost all its neighbours is at its worst today, in a way it has seldom been in the past.

When it comes to Pakistan, Modi’s policy has been a non-starter from the beginning. The promising gestures made early on by the right-wing Hindu government under the leadership of Modi, as he invited then Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to attend his swearing in ceremony, could not and did not go beyond such token gestures. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has not even tried to come out of its majoritarian rhetoric, and as a result, the distance between Delhi and Islamabad has never seemed as great or as final as it appears today.

Over a week ago, reports started to emerge that Pakistani diplomats were now being harassed in India. This was followed by a video released on social media where a Pakistani diplomat and his family can be seen being intimidated in their car, in full view of the public.

The situation has escalated to such a degree that Pakistan has recalled Sohail Mahmood, its High Commissioner in Delhi. Mohammad Faisal, the spokesperson of the Pakistan Foreign Office, suggested that the Indian government has failed to provide security to Pakistani diplomats and their families in Delhi, as he alleged that the diplomatic staff has been facing harassment, intimidation and outright violence by Indian agencies.

This is an extremely serious allegation, the gravity of which reminds one of the bygone Cold War era, where it was normal for the US and the Soviet Union to expel each other’s diplomats.

With issues consistently piling up and the stance growing more hard-line by the day, the relationship between the two neighbours remains stuck in a time warp. It would not be too farfetched to blame the rigidity of the Indian government for allowing the situation to escalate to this degree, to the point where not even a basic trust can be found between the two. Pakistan and India only seem to be growing apart, with no hope for a better future in sight.

Not only has any political engagement barely occurred of late, but the camaraderie once found between the civil societies of both states has also diminished in the past four years, under Modi’s government. Not only has collaborating with Pakistani artists been banned in India, but after the beginning of the diplomatic standoff, the Indian government made things worse by denying visas to Pakistani pilgrims.

What is extremely dangerous is the fact that in India, an atmosphere has been created where advocating a dialogue with Pakistan or showing any disagreement with the current course of action is quickly termed ‘anti-national’.

Even more worrying is the lack of interest shown by the media to this deteriorating relationship between the two nations. Hardly any debate has been invited over the issue of the treatment of Pakistani diplomats, or over Pakistan recalling its envoy. Newspapers are silent, while news channels too are playing it safe. Whenever there is a mention of the issue, it is sure to be presented with an anti-Pakistan tilt, further creating an environment where any disagreement with the Modi government is termed anti-national.

This suggests that an abnormality such as this has now been accepted as the new normal.

So where do we go from here?

In the last four years, Modi has failed to achieve anything substantial on any front – be it his foreign policy or, more importantly, the economic issue. With the spate of regional elections coming up this year, followed by the general elections next year, Modi cannot afford to move beyond his cultivated hard-line stance, lest he ends up losing his core constituency.

Pakistan has always been a particularly emotional issue in India, and Modi will seek to exploit this emotion further to consolidate the vote. A greater concern is to see another fault line being exploited – the Hindu-Muslim one – whipping up more frenzy along religious lines to gather more votes from the increasingly right-wing groups in India.

For now, it appears the skirmishes at the border will only intensify further, the diplomatic stand-off will continue to persist, and the situation in Kashmir will be allowed to deteriorate further, only to further build the majoritarian rhetoric.

Today, India presents a very sorry figure as far as its foreign policy is concerned. Yes, India is a strong country, yet instead of using its strength to increase its friendships in the region, it stands in isolation in South Asia. For this sad state of affairs, where a country wanting to be a member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is coming under fire for not respecting the sanctity and inviolability of diplomats, India only has its unimaginative and archaic policy to blame.

Santosh Arora

Santosh Arora

The blogger is a journalist from India.

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

  • Dr. Insaaniyat

    The last line “The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.” should be in bold for this kind of writing.Recommend

  • Karthik Sunder

    Isolated … in your mind perhaps. Every other country in the world and the region has been acknowledging India’s presence and contribution today.


  • Sane sid

    Isolation? Are you sure? Even the trade with Chinese (the most immediate adversary in the region) is on all time high. The Doklam stand off is a proof that Trade is at such a high that the conflict was avoided obviously by the Chinese. The relations with other other nations is just a power struggle between China & India and the pendulum keeps swinging.Recommend

  • Karachiwala

    Good piece. One point to add in to the above piece is that Pakistani Elections are never pinned on anti india stance- not for sure in the past 45 years.
    No politician in Pakistan- no matter how dumb they are or corrupt- never bashed india in public rallies in their election campaigns.
    in Contrast to Pakistan, Indian politician have been using anti-Pakistan rhetoric – tough on Pakistan stance openly in their election campaigns. And unfortunately- that is what getting them more votes.Recommend

  • tesoridellasia

    Always in dreams wakeup endia otherwise it’s end time.Recommend

  • PatelPara

    Mahavir Prasad has spilled the beans of BJP IT cell. BJP/RSS is the reason india is in such state.Recommend

  • Haramullah Fattuddin

    Isolation? from Pakistan’s point of view.Recommend

  • vinsin

    And why should that be? Do Israel elections goes around Germany? Nope. And what do you think they can bash India on?Recommend

  • vinsin

    What state?Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    Dear Author:
    Recall which nation recently added to the FATF “greylist”!Recommend

  • Gingerman78

    I will point out that India’s tourism, FDI, GDP growth are doing well despite being “isolated”. They must be brilliant.Recommend

  • sterry

    Instead of trying to understand what is being said in this article, you want to thump your chest and say all is well? It tells us a lot that India cannot get along with any of neighbors – not just Pakistan and China but even Sri Lanka, Nepal and now Bangladesh has problems with India. You can talk about tourism but that’s not what Westerners think of when you say the word India – they think of the Rape Capital of the World and the image of Indian men in groups raping female tourists is there for all to see.Recommend

  • sk

    I read whole story again & again…. except Indo-Pak relations it doesn’t reflect anything about others in the neighborhood…. India’s trade & economical interest with neighbors Afghanistan, Iran, China, Nepal, Bangladesh, SriLanka, Maldives, Mauritius, Bhutan, Myanmar is all time high apart other countries of the world…. UAE, KSA, Turkey (Pak’s so called best allies) have dumped you for major business relations with India….

  • luuuuke

    Last I heardRecommend

  • Amer Lodi

    Every tom dick and harry endian says thatRecommend

  • Amer Lodi

    Indians always dreaming and putting up their own statistics. Wake up! Thank God the author of this article is an IndianRecommend

  • Sane

    You love to be in bubble and in disillusion. Your choice.Recommend

  • Sane

    What is that contribution? Killing minorities and Muslims?!! Suppressing freedom movement of Occupied Kashmir? Banning beef eating rather killing on beef eating? Raping women?Recommend

  • sp

    that was funnyRecommend

  • Keyboard Soldier

    The author does not understand the word isolation; and diplomatic isolation even more so.Recommend

  • Sane sid

    Hey mate…. never meant to offend you. I do understand your country’s economy is in very sorry state and the image of Pakistan has taken a beating due to corrupt policies of your leaders. Pakistanis are suffering due to this. But, do understand economically India is so strong that it is impossible for anyone to isolate India……Recommend

  • Patwari

    Hindustan also enjoys great relations with the Andromeda Galaxy, Messier 32, Leo 1
    Messier 110, Pluto, Big Dipper, Mars, All The Hobbits, Tyrolean Flute Players, Emperor Penguins, Triangulam Galaxy, Laplanders, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry,
    All The Taxi Drivers in New York, Brobdingnagians and Lilliputians, Malacca Straits, Khaleej Times, Straits of Johor, All the Scavengers in the Serengeti and Amboseli
    Lowland and Mountain Gorillas in the Congo Rain Forests, Bonobos, Army Ants,…
    Even Micky Mouse!
    Now this can go on for 10 pages.Recommend

  • Anoop

    What is your criteria for this isolation? Please enlighten us.Recommend

  • Anoop

    Because its true?Recommend

  • Saif Ali

    This article was a good way of identifying all the indian trolls and RAW agents.Recommend

  • Dr. Insaaniyat

    Good piece of satireRecommend

  • DR Changez Khan

    we have 2 friends may be 3, who melt down under duress.Recommend

  • Fair Reforms

    So are you waiting for the Isolation to happen? Indian economy is in shambles for an ordinary citizen. GDP went high the profits of corrupt Industrialists shot up to skies that accounts for the higher growth rate. The poor has become worse thanks to that idiot Modi and his corrupt coterie.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Huh? How so? Well, he can google the words? He has a dictionary.
    Better still, he knows Modi Sarkar, the number one Selfie Taker,
    the Great Hugger, is a Peddler of Hate, an Asian Brown Hitler, a
    man who runs over puppies with his car, a man also known as the
    Butcher of Gujrat, what more does the blogger needs to know?Recommend

  • Veer Singh

    India’s global isolation was quite visible at the FATF recently!Recommend

  • Rana Muhammad Khan

    Mental isolation is there in India if not a physical isolation. India has a chronic disease of violation of human rights how ever they have some plus points that is their best parliamentary system, judiciary, stable civil government.Recommend

  • Karachiwala

    100% Correct. And there is a general consensus not to allow that until unless these politicians get a spine, and put Pakistan interest first!

    Nawaz shairf 2013 inauguration in office- manmohan singh was invited. And he was willing- but Indian politicians blocked it.

    Modi ingaugration 2014- NS was invited, “Everyone ” (diplomats-analyst-Foreign office-ARMY- general public protested) in the country and tried to stop him- But he went.

    Just FYI- its not because of indian effort or greatness. Because Modi and NS has business ties!Recommend

  • Parvez

    An article in The New Republic by Anjali Kamat dated 21st. March 2018 ” Political Corruption and the Art of the Deal ” its about 25 pages long but makes for very interesting reading ……. and explains why persons like the author of this blog are ringing the alarm bell.Recommend

  • greywolf

    this is a political move, has nothing to do with isolation. there are many european countries that could be on this list from time to time. its not some sort of UNSC passed resolution, like the one that your country has been violating on kashmir.Recommend

  • greywolf

    political sloganeering is just that- sloganeering. india and indians have made a business out of maligning pakistan and pakistanis. politicians hinge their entire careers on showing india as being some poor ‘victim’ of pakistani ‘terror.’ this does not exist in pakistan.Recommend

  • hamza khan

    FATF is a political tool used by the US to get concessions. india could be on their at some point in the future too. india is more powerful than the US? hahahaRecommend

  • Usman Ranjha

    India’s economy is as fragile as it could be because it relies heavily on services sector which at any time could be shifted to other countries that provide cheaper labor. The U.S. and some European countries are trying to entrench India as their stooge in Asia to counter China’s influence thus they are working hard to keep Indian economy afloat. otherwise there isn’t anything consequential in India (except, of course, that it is 2nd most populated country) or India’s economy, for that matter, that could prevent another nation of some stature from isolating India. But thanks to Modi, India is doing that for herself.Recommend

  • Faisal

    I wouldn’t exactly call it isolation. That being said India is on the path which Pakistan has already taken. What Zia did to Paksitan is exactly what Modi is doing to India. It has been decades and we’re still reeling from the damage in our society, left by Zia. I guess Indians will have to learn at their own expense rather than Pakistan’s.Recommend

  • Sane sid

    Really….in shambles? I live in India FYI.Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    FATF was voted on by more that 30 leading countries in response to Pakistani non-action on eliminating support for terrorism!
    Please explain how India could ever end up on list!Recommend

  • Agrippa – The Skeptic

    You may feel very witty by Intentionally misspelling India, it only highlights your pettiness.Recommend

  • Agrippa – The Skeptic

    You are fixated in your hatred of one man without knowing the facts, that what you know is what people wanted you to know and your limitations were well exploited, because you have never tried to see beyond the horizon that has been shown to you!Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    This “political move” was voted on by some 40 FATF countries in case you forgot!
    BTW, please list those “many European countries that could be on this list from time to time” that you claim!Recommend

  • Nitin

    this does not exist in pakistan >
    a. you mean there is no animosity towards india OR
    b. all parties and people have the same animosity towards India/Indians and so it is not an election issue.

    c. the anti pakistan rhetoric is also a function of what is happening on the border and inside your border.
    d. election is a divisive force- anti pakistan sloganerring is more geared towards whipping up anti muslim sentiments/ anti muslim appeasement politics- depending on which spectrum you see it. That doesn’t happen in Pakistan against its minorities, of those that are left.Recommend

  • Nitin

    what’s the connection? :-?Recommend

  • Sane

    He is not corrupt…….ha..ha..haRecommend

  • Sane sid

    I don’t know from where do you get all this……???Recommend

  • John Nash

    I agree modi failed to deliver but international isolation, seriously?Recommend

  • Veer Singh

    Why would India be on the FATF list. There are ZERO internationally designated terrorists or terrorist groups operating in India. In Pakistan, numerous banned groups & individuals are operating freely with the blessing of the state of Pakistan. That’s why you are on the FATF watch-list and if you don’t change your ways, soon you’ll be on the Blacklist.Recommend

  • Veer Singh

    Your comparison of Modi with Zia does not make any sense. One was a military dictator who usurped power, the other a democratically elected leader. Unlike Zia, Modi is not breeding, training or supporting terrorists to attack any other country for “strategic depth”. At best, Modi is a right wing leader who takes advantage of the electorate by polarization.Recommend

  • kartikey mishra

    India stands Isolated what a joke…Recommend

  • kartikey mishra

    China is looting pakistan and still pakis thing they are in safe hands…Recommend