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When “enemies” mend, Nationalism can face a dilemma


Natonalisms flourish only when those who have been designated enemies remain steadfast in their assigned entity.
God forbid, should they begin to mend their ways, hyper-nationalism can be suddenly left without recourse, or face the risk of being found out.

News is that some forty-four marked members of the Jaish-e-Mohammed in Pakistan have been detained. There is also speculation that the Pakistani establishment may no longer object to the designation of Masood Azhar as an “international terrorist”. Indeed, we also understand that the JuD organization run by Hafiz Saeed has also been banned. And, most surprisingly, a minister in Pakistan has been sacked for making some derogatory anti-Hindu statements. (Needless to say, we have no memory of a minister in India having been sacked for making anti-minority statements.) Given the institutionalized relegation of Non-Muslim Pakistanis, and the pogroms against them especially since the Zia era, this occurrence seems notably watershed.

So, whatever be the motivation behind these new stirrings in the Pakistani establishment (it is noteworthy that knowledgeable people like Sudheendra Kulkarni have averred that in their opinion and judgment, this may be the first time that the political and military wings of the establishment in Pakistan are on the same page), do these developments signal a new problematic for our Nationalist government?

It is amply clear by now that the ruling BJP, led redolently in this campaign by India’s chief executive himself, has now put pretty much all its electoral eggs in just one anti-Pak basket; and who does not know what that means domestically? Whatever traction there may still be in the Ram Mandir agenda seems for now rather emancipated, and usable only as an adjunct to the flourishing anti-Pakistan tirade which neatly seeks to implicate all opposition voices as inimical to India’s armed forces because of their criticisms of the Narendra Modi-government.

That being the case, do these new pacifist and congenial developments in Pakistan signal a let-down by the enemy? A dirty trick, if you like, to puncture the ascending graph of Indian anti-Pak nationalism? Is there a danger here of Imran Khan and Qamar Bajwa stealing the show and eliciting the good opinion of those whom we require to continue to lambast Pakistan? At least till the coming Indian General Elections are over?

It is of course more than possible that the actions initiated in Pakistan are tactical face-savers, dictated by severe economic problems and an increasing international opprobrium. Perhaps also driven by shifting public opinion, might one add. However that be, India’s “nationalists” for now will need to argue strenuously that such is the case, and that these new reports from Pakistan betoken only a cosmetic and clever retreat designed to weaken the ruling party campaign in India.

Is there a truth in politics? Hard to say. What is certain that nothing is more disloyal to “nationalism” in one place than a corresponding enemy “nationalism” in another to go soft. Especially when the former banks heavily on the latter for victories at home.

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