New Delhi continues with its efforts to use Pakistan as a bogeyman to divert attention from its human rights abuses in Kashmir and general mismanagement of the Indian economy and state. After nine months of torturing people with the lockdown in Occupied Kashmir and ravaging the economy and society with one of the worst-managed Covid-19 responses in the world, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi turned to his security forces to give him a way to change the news cycle. With its actions on the Line of Actual Control, the Indian Army incompetently handed him a choice between sparking World War Three or publicly begging for mercy from the Chinese.
Modi is many things — mostly terrible — but he is not a fool. He knows India cannot win a war with China. But he also knows he cannot show weakness, or his Hindutva base will eat him alive. Most democratic parties cannot handle the political fallout of foreign policy humiliation. For fascist parties, it is a death knell. Thus, it would appear that he is trying to rig the news cycle by accusing Pakistani embassy officials of espionage. While the compliant Indian media keeps parroting the government’s version of events — we came across only one major Indian publication that referenced the Pakistani Foreign Office’s response to the charges — Modi has time to quietly make peace with China on Beijing’s terms without being tarred and feathered by his own people.
Speaking of feathers, India already tried to divert attention to Pakistan with another ludicrous spy pigeon story. When this was lambasted even by their own media, some popular Indian propaganda news channels tried and failed at blaming Pakistan for the locust crisis hitting both countries. Even the FO noted the curious circumstances of the expulsion of embassy staffers. “The Indian action has been accompanied by a negative pre-planned and orchestrated media campaign, which is a part of persistent anti-Pakistan propaganda,” said a Foreign Office statement.
By the time the focus shifts back to the real story along the border, the Indian government will divert attention to some other talking point. Probably its continuing failure to handle Covid-19.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 2nd, 2020.