Pakistanis scared of Modi?

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We are not describing the scenario with softer words like “wary” or “apprehensive” for the simple reason that commentary in the media of Pakistan has got into an all-out scare-mongering business, seeing a groundswell of support for the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in India. Pakistani journalists are apprehensive of military retaliation in case of a terrorist attack on India. They also want their citizens to believe Kashmiris are oppressed and that this oppression will increase under a Modi regime.

The ‘facts’ presented in these papers to further their point are either exaggerations or plain myth, as readers in India can see. It started right when Modi’s candidacy for India’s top executive post became imminent. Of course, the official, diplomatic position of Pakistan seeks to play down the fear factor, which the mainstream media has reported already.

First we quote what a media house in a third country has reported about the sentiment surrounding Modi in Pakistan. Then we are moving to Pakistani newspapers.

Deutsche Welle: “Most Indians probably think that Modi was unfairly maligned for his alleged involvement in the Gujarat killings, but for Pakistanis he was the mastermind of the massacre,” Abuzar Sharif, a journalist in Karachi, told DW. “Nobody has any proof of his role in the riots, but here in Pakistan, perceptions are stronger than reality. Modi is considered not only an anti-Pakistan politician, but also an anti-Islam Hindu fanatic,” the journalist added.

The Dawn: Modi, the chief minister of the western state of Gujarat, is a polarising figure, tainted by deadly anti-Muslim riots on his watch in 2002, but also credited with turning Gujarat into an economic powerhouse.

During the riots of 2002, as many as 2,000 people were killed, mainly Muslims. He is accused of turning a blind eye to the violence but denies any wrongdoing. (29 September 2013)

India will get tougher on territorial disputes with China and in its old rivalry with Pakistan if opposition Narendra Modi becomes the prime minister in May after a general election, two of his aides said.

Modi, a Hindu nationalist who is the front-runner to win the five-week election starting on April 7, has taken an aggressive tone against the two neighbouring nations. On the campaign trail, he has warned to shed its “mindset of expansionism” and in the past he has railed against Pakistan, an Islamic state, for attacks by Muslim militants in India…

Outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has pushed for peace with Pakistan, and had hoped to visit his birthplace in Pakistan’s Punjab province in a final gesture of reconciliation before leaving office.

But his efforts were stymied by opposition at home over Islamabad’s failure to act against those India holds responsible for masterminding a 2008 attack on the city of in which 166 people were killed by 10 gunmen from Pakistan. (31 2014)

The News International: Most Indians agree that the reaction of the BJP government to a major subversive attack from across the border will be much more drastic.BJP Subraminiam Swami did not mince any words about this: “If one happens, you can rest assured that a BJP government will react by (orchestrating) six Mumbais.” Scary, isn’t it. This might be a little far-fetched but any major Pakistani provocation will be a sure dead-ender for years in Modi Raj. (26 2014)

Those trying to find positives in a Modi win are hoping for the best. But perhaps they should prepare for something less benign. Don’t forget that even if Vajpayee did try to show flexibility over Kashmir he had first established his nationalist credentials by carrying out the Indian nuclear tests.

There is every reason to believe that if he wins Modi will want to do something similar. The Indian media are speculating about a possible short, sharp, post-election statement that India will no longer renounce the first use of nuclear weapons. And we can expect some strong statements on Kashmir too. Any attempt to increase the level of cross LoC infiltration is likely to meet a robust response. (Owen Bennett-Jones on 15 April 2014)

The Nation: In its election manifesto, the BJP vows to uphold India’s territorial integrity and abrogate a clause in the constitution that grants Jammu and Kashmir a degree of autonomy.

That puts Modi at odds with locals in Gulzarpora and many beyond who have long favored independence from India. Of more than 30 men gathered at a neighbor’s house to discuss Pandith’s murder, not one expressed allegiance to a mainstream political party. Asked if they preferred independence to staying with India, given the choice, all raised their hands. (24 April 2014)

The Express Tribune: The very fact that the Modi-inspired manifesto talks of a revision of India’s nuclear doctrine implies a natural escalation of tension with Pakistan. It also implies an escalation of divisive rhetoric and war-mongering under the guise of economic integrity and engagement. It was the Hindu right-wing government under Atal Behari Vajpayee that decided to test its nuclear weapons in 1998, an ominous beginning to South Asia’s nuclear age. (11 April 2014)

The right wing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) recently released manifesto says many things – and newspapers and people all over the world tell me a lot of it is problematic. There’s something about a reversal of India’s nuclear doctrine, apparently. And an Indian friend of mine told me they might be cutting beef production. But I wouldn’t know, because I can’t access BJP’s website, and neither can anyone else in Pakistan. Interestingly, it isn’t our government that banned it; the BJP itself made its website inaccessible to people from Pakistan, citing hacking threats. (Saim Saeed’s blog on 24 April 2014)

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