Monday, 28 December 2015

Narendra Modi's Surprise Pak Stopover- Stealth Diplomacy is New Norm for Modi

Narendra Modi's stop over at Pakistan on his return journey from Kabul to Delhi in order to wish Nawaz Sharif on his birthday and bless his granddaughter on the eve of her marriage in fact surprised everyone including the media in both India and Pakistan.
This stopover diplomacy was viewed in Pakistan as a pleasant surprise and everyone in Pakistan except the hardliners like Hafiz Saeed welcomed it. In India, most of the media channels and experts on security and foreign policy too welcomed the move. 

However Congress, AAP, JDU and Shiv Sena opposed the move. Shiv Sena is known for its anti-Pakistan stand and hence it's opposition was on expected lines. Even JDU's criticism was expected as for last two years the party has criticized whatever Narendra Modi has done.  Similarly Congress and AAP are competing with each other to slam any step taken by Prime Minister Modi and thus their opposition lacks credibility.

Some experts say Narendra Modi's Pakistan policy lacks consistency. But is that the case really? Those who follow Narendra Modi's foreign policy very deeply know very well that it's Modi's trademark style of diplomacy, where the opponent never knows what's coming next. 

In diplomacy, if the opponent knows your line of action, then you lose the advantage. When Narendra Modi invited all SAARC heads of states including Pakistan, everyone was surprised. The cancellation of foreign level talks between India and Pakistan over Pakistan envoy Sartaj Aziz meeting with Hurriyat leaders also surprised everyone. 

Since then the Ufa meeting and the joint statement, cancellation of NSA level talks, surprise two minute discussion with Nawaz Sharif, the NSA level meeting at Bangkok etc were definitely surprising moves as the experts too remained confused as to what was happening and what will happen next. 
The hallmark of Modi's policy with Pakistan is that he has taken bold and innovative out-of-the-box steps. Almost seven-decades old Indo-Pak problems can't be sorted out through conventional diplomacy and require innovative thinking.
Some important aspects of Modi's surprise visit are as follows:
1)      Narendra Modi indirectly attacked Pakistan for cross boarder terrorism while speaking at Afghanistan's new Parliament. Then he decided to make a stopover at Lahore. In this way he proved that he is a decisive and daring statesman who has full control over proceedings. The MEA too was unknown about his surprise visit till the last moment, which was proved when Sushama Swaraj hurriedly called the BJP spokesperson for a briefing. Pakistan got the message that Modi is a strong Prime Minister of India and only he can improve Indo-Pak relations, if Pakistan reciprocates. Pakistan must be convinced by now that it's Modi who calls the shots. He dictates his terms on when to invite, when to cancel or when to resume dialogue. Hence Pakistan needs to reciprocate and has to honour Modi's terms. So in a nutshell his Pakistan policy is very consistent in giving a proper message to his counterpart.
2)      Modi has invented a new method of diplomacy in creating friendship with the heads of states at a personal level. Be it the Japanese PM, Chinese premier, US President or the PM of UK , Modi has created a bond of friendship at the personal level with all. Relations between two countries always improve when head of states of both countries are friends at a personal level. However Modi also proved that despite personal level friendship, he can bargain very hard when it comes to national interest. His bargaining hard with the United Sates at the WTO and CoP climate change at Paris bears testimony to this fact. Modi has offered friendship to Nawaz Sharif which can be a great concession for him as he is already facing problems with Pakistan's internal polity. After being cornered globally on the terror issue, Pakistan desperately wants good relations with India. Even Pakistan military this time appears to be on board particularly in the aftermath of Pakistan's Military chief getting a cold shoulder by the United States during his last visit.
3)      Narendra Modi is already a global leader due to his persona and personal relations with powerful heads of states. In Kabul he has openly declared that India will keep providing assistance to Afghanistan in all matters including its security and defense. Pakistan who does not enjoy the best of relations with Afghanistan now, is very critical of any Indian involvement in Afghanistan. Narendra Modi visited Afghanistan, inaugurated its new Parliament built by India and addressed the Parliamentarians promising them of all help and yet decided to visit Pakistan. The message is clear. India will actively remain present in Afghanistan henceforth, but at the same time wants friendship with Pakistan. This is a statesman like approach.
4)      Most opposition parties have asked as to what India gets from this visit, as on the contrary Pakistan has benefited more as it's global image has improved following Modi's visit.  But the point is, India has always remained an elder brother to Pakistan and all its neighboring countries in the subcontinent barring China. While the elder brother is always expected to give concessions to the younger brother, the elder brother also expects the younger brother to reciprocate well and not to irritate him. So, Pakistan should refrain from meeting Hurriyat leaders to irritate India.

So to conclude, I can safely say that Narendra Modi's Pakistan policy is on the right track and is certainly neither whimsical nor inconsistent. This stealth diplomacy is a new phenomenon of Narendra Modi. Pakistan must realize that if there's anyone who can really solve Indo-Pak problems, it's none other than the decisive present Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi.

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