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Pleasing voters or kicking up international storm?

Posted in Featured, View Point

Published on June 12, 2024 with No Comments

India is in election mode and as expected leaders are going all out to lure the voters to their side. A lot depends on the promises that the leaders make it to the voters. At times the leaders go overboard in their address at the rallies.  Earlier this week, India’s defence minister Rajnath Singh issued a strong statement on India’s approach to counter terrorism across the borders saying that if terrorists try to disturb peace in India or carry out terror activities, a befitting response will be given. Singh further said that if these terrorists run away to Pakistan, India will enter the neighbouring country to kill them. A day later echoing Rajnath Singh’s words at an election rally in Uttarakhand recently, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi said, “Whenever we have had a weak government in the country, our enemies have taken advantage. Under this strong government, atankwaadiyon ko ghar mein ghus ke mara jata hai (our forces are killing terrorists on their own turf).”

Both of them were making an obvious reference to the surgical strikes carried out by India in Pakistan’s Balakot in 2019 in response to the attack in India’s Pulwama that left 38 soldiers dead. The two statements may have not caught much attention from the voters, but it certainly drew attention of the international leaders, as it amounted to escalating tension between India and Pakistan.  Intrinsically, no election in the subcontinent takes place without the mention of the two neighbours. However, this time the two Indian leaders took it too far calling from immediate reactions from other nations and world leaders.

The United States reacted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and defence minister Rajnath Singh’s statements. The Joe Biden administration said that while the US has encouraged India and Pakistan to avoid escalation and find a resolution through dialogue, it would not get involved in the matter. When questioned about Modi’s “ghar mai ghus ke maarenge” statement on terrorism, US state department spokesperson Matthew Miller, while addressing a press briefing, said, “As I have said before, the United States is not going to get into the middle of this. But we do encourage both India and Pakistan to avoid escalation and find a resolution through dialogue.” As the press conference was taking place in the United States reference to Canada was bound to be there.

When media asked if Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Rajnath Singh’s comments can be seen as “confessions” on the alleged “assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada, and alleged plot linked to Gurpatwant Singh Pannun’s murder-for-hire plot in New York, and killings in Pakistan”, Miller said the US will not get involved in the matter. The state department spokesperson was also questioned on why the US has not imposed any sanctions on India over the alleged plot to assassinate Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. This drew a strong response from Miller, “I am never going to preview any sanctions actions, which is not to say that there are any coming. But when you ask me to talk about sanctions, it’s something that we don’t discuss openly.”

The two Indian leaders namely Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Rajnath Singh have kicked up a storm at the international front. Their attempt to lure the voters with the mention of Pakistan may or may not please the voters but has brought question on its international relations and policies.





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