The ‘Howdy Modi’ event was a resounding success, no matter how one looks at it. It marked a tectonic shift in the Indo-US relationship and marked the dawn of a new era of unparalleled cooperation between the two countries which has not been observed thus far. The event was made even more intriguing with PM Modi stating categorically that the time for a ‘Decisive War’ against terror has come.
At OpIndia.com, we have said it often that the global political climate is such that the USA cannot afford to antagonize India now that it is mired in a trade war with China. We have also said that Pakistan will slide more and more into the arms of China and by the end of this era of turbulence, they could emerge as China’s vassal state.
The most significant development, however, came late on Sunday night (IST) when Narendra Modi took to the stage at the ‘Howdy Modi’ event and announced that time had come to wage the decisive war on terror. Announcing the decisive ‘War on Terror’ on US soil has great significance. The people of the US may not have positive feelings about the phrase at all but in the context of India and Pakistan, the Indian Army has been waging a war against terrorism ever since independence.
Prime Minister Modi’s announcement at the ‘Howdy Modi’ event, that we have entered the decisive phase of the ‘War on Terror’, indicates that time has come for a permanent solution to the Pakistan problem. Narendra Modi drew an equivalence between the horrific 9/11 terror attack in 2011 in the USA and the 26/11 Mumbai Attacks and said that there was a single country that had harboured terrorists who had masterminded and committed those ghastly attack. He was, of course, referring to the fact that Osama bin Laden was found hiding in Pakistan right beside a military base.
One can only speculate what India’s objectives will be going into this decisive phase. We can only speculate what India’s goals will be. However, statements made by top Ministers in the Modi Sarkar combined with historical precedent does give us sufficient indication about the direction we are heading in.
Ever since 1971, when the then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi, waged a war against the Islamic State of Pakistan to liberate Bangladeshis from tyranny, India has primarily been fighting the War in our soil. That changed with the terror attack on a military base at Uri in 2016. India responded by cross-border surgical strikes. For that reason, the Uri terror attack has a special historical significance which we have discussed in an earlier article. The phase that began on that fateful day ended with the abrogation of Article 370. Now, as Modi would be wont to say, we are on the verge of the decisive War on Terror.
Our goals, at the very minimum, would be to take back Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir from the clutches of the terror state. While Pakistan has been trying to nail India on the decision to abrogate Article 370, India has only escalated matters from there on and made several statements demonstrating the intent to take back PoK. Recently, MEA Jaishankar asserted that India hoped one day we will have physical jurisdiction over PoK.
It was after Home Minister Amit Shah, Narendra Modi’s trusted lieutenant, said in the Parliament following the abrogation of Article 370 that they were ready to sacrifice their own lives for PoK. These are significant statements and are not to be made lightly as the men making them would be very much aware.
Only yesterday, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh made significant statements which ought to make the Pakistani establishment shudder. He said, “If they (Pak) repeat it, then they should think what will become of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir… Human rights violations are committed against Balochs & Pashtuns there. If it continues, no power will be able to protect Pak from getting further divided into pieces.”
We can only marvel at the remarkable shift that India’s policy with regards to Pakistan has undergone since 2014. The ‘Aman ki Aasha’ policy has been butchered without mercy. It has been buried and the corpse is now rotting. Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, and Jaishankar, these are the four most important individuals in the government who determine Indian policy against Pakistan. And all of them are t perfect sync with each other, they are speaking in one voice. The voice is clear, the time has come to take back what is ours by right: PoK.
Where does Donald Trump come into the picture? Narendra Modi attacking Pakistan on US soil, in front of the US President and thousands and thousands of Indians indicates that the Indian Government has been successful in convincing the Trump Administration to leave Pakistan in the lurch. It’s the clearest indication that when India decides to pursue military action against Pakistan for the reclamation of PoK, the USA will not interfere. That much is clear.
At the ‘Howdy Modi’ event where the comment about waging a ‘Decisive War’ against terror was made, Donald Trump described Narendra Modi as a tough negotiator and we can say safely, this must have been a hard bargain to make. However, ever since he announced his presidential campaign, Donald Trump has regularly made it clear he is not as fond of Pakistan as his predecessors were. Pakistan selling itself to China must have not gone down well with the Trump administration and for that, they shall pay the price.
Thus, given recent developments, it is safe to say that reclaiming PoK is the least India hopes to achieve with the decisive War on Terror. However, this is the bare minimum. The Indian Government could be targeting more, a lot more than that.
Some might argue that the recent statements on PoK may well be India’s way of cowering Pakistan into submission by issuing threats. This is a game the Pakistanis used to play with us. They attempted to ‘bleed India with a thousand cuts’ and stopped India from retaliating by threatening war, often with nukes. Some would like to think that India is pursuing the same policy right now. India wants Pakistan to abandon its fantasies of Kashmir and it’s trying to make them do so by threatening them with War and taking back PoK.
There are multiple reasons why this is unlikely. We are living in an age of chaos. This is a period of realignment on a global scale. The international climate could not have been more conducive for India if it decided to pursue the reclamation of PoK and even more. The next few decades could very well determine the future of the world for decades to come if not centuries. Thus, all of this indicates that we might very well increase the territory we have physical jurisdiction over in the next few years, or possibly, the next couple of years. Thus, Narendra Modi’s declaration of the War on Terror could only mean one thing. India wants territorial realignment and the USA will not interfere.