Indo-Pak Relations After Modi’s Re-election

Imran Khan
Imran Khan

TIC Analysis |

Indian Leader Narendar Modi returned to power with a landslide victory in the recent elections. Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 303 seats, its best ever score, giving it an even bigger majority than five years ago and negating perceptions that it was unpopular. According to experts, while the BJP faced difficulties due to adverse macroeconomic situations, it managed to win due to its focus on microeconomic successes such as poverty alleviation, support of a pliant media, the backing of big corporations like Mittal, Tata and Ambani group as well as institutional infiltration(such as Indian military) by Hindutva elements. Perception management of Pakistan-India standoff after Pulwama and suppression of Indian Muslims also helped portray Modi as a strong Hindu leader.

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The coming challenges for the Indian government will be job creation, reversing economic slowdown, combating pollution and rectifying the agricultural sector. Analysts also project a blowback of social polarization and Hindutva policies which will lead to a severe crisis in the form of communal tensions. It faces formidable challenges in foreign policy like balancing between the US and Russia/China, retaining hegemony in South Asia, tackling Pakistan and pacifying Kashmir as well as facing trade pressure from the US in the form of tariffs.

While hope has been expressed that the end of the election period could start the peace process between Pakistan and India, analysts assert that this may not happen. Upcoming elections in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Arunchal Pradesh as soon as June may not give the BJP space to soften its stance on Pakistan. Also perceptions of a weak Pakistan could cause India to use more hard power tactics like military escalation rather than peace talks to achieve its aims.

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While some assert that Modi may try to reach out to Pakistan due to the issue of airspace closure. s. Commercial and cargo airlines using Indian airspace have been forced to take costly and time-consuming detours because they could not fly over Pakistan.The closing of Pakistani airspace to India is causing losses to Indian airlines such as Air India which has posted its highest loss of Indian Rs7600 crore or 10 billion USD. It has also decreased Afghanistan trade with India leading to a decline of 30% according to Afghan officials. Yet here too it seems that Modi is hampered by internal politics.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi avoided flying over Pakistan during an official trip to central Asia on Thursday, the foreign ministry said, even though Pakistan has granted overflight access after Indian request . Pakistan had cleared Modi’s flight to Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit beginning on Thursday, Indian and Pakistan sources confirmed.

The Indian foreign ministry said the government had considered the routes for Modi’s travel and decided he would take the longer passage to Central Asia instead of the direct route over Pakistan.The move follows calls in local media that Modi shouldn’t be securing an exception for himself while thousands of ordinary travelers were enduring the longer travel because of the tensions between the countries.