Edit/Op-Ed

Seeing Beyond BJP’s SAARC Invitation on Modi’s PM Oath Ceremony

Kartikey Shukla for BeyondHeadlines

Media houses started broadcasting information of invitation sent by the BJP to state representative of SAARC countries on the eve of Modi’s prime ministerial oath ceremony. The invitation to Pakistan’s right wing Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been seen good move towards ‘India – Pak’ relationship.

BJP leaders don’t share the same opinion, Chandan Mitra said: “It is not a bilateral agreement between India and Pakistan, it’s just a social gathering and we tend to invite leaders all over the world including our neighboring SAARC countries”.

From Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif congratulated Narendra Modi and invited him to visit Pakistan. A fraction within Pakistani army has been critical to Nawaz’s stand on ‘India- Pak relationship’. Last week, personnel of Pakistani army violated ceasefire agreement at the LOC killed an Indian army Jawan.

Liberals from both the countries welcomed this decision and have hoped to see ‘Atal – Sharif peace initiatives’ again. Keeping aside this ceremony invitation and Pakistan, what we can see in other SAARC countries especially Bangladesh and Sri Lanka? Optimists within Indian media think that both government in India and Pakistan came into power to work for betterment of people and campaign for development. Second argument see it ideological background of the ruling party of both the countries and its previous engagements on ‘India – Pak relationship’.

Two important points, first to see BJP’s diplomatic stands on Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and second at the same to understand India’s regional power presence in South Asian countries. SAARC has been judged as a weak cooperation without having any significant treaty in common among its member countries.

Historically, there has been no event of social gathering between India and Pakistan, even conducting cricket matches have politicized in public. Let us look into beyond these ‘Indo-Pak’ narrations. Countries like Afghanistan, Myanmar, Bhutan and Nepal have been out of the South Asian debate in Indian context significantly much because of India’s negligence towards these countries, India of course share strategic bilateral relationship with Afghanistan and Myanmar.

Afghanistan and Myanmar have its geo-political importance at global diplomacy. Indian Oil Company operating on Myanmar’s land and the last Indian government’s military relationship with Afghanistan put both the state in cooperative loop.

Modi’s comments on Bangladesh and Sri Lanka show his party’s policy. Sri Lanka certainly don’t see warming signal on BJP’s inclination towards AIADMK in Tamilnadu. AIADMK animadversion against Tamils exploitation by Sri Lankan state has been known among world media. India’s vote against Sri Lanka in case of crime against Tamils in Sri Lankan civil war shown in the favor of Tamil solidarity and pointed finger India’s foreign policy, top Sri Lankan authorities accused the Indian decision was taken under pressure of Tamilnadu’s politics.

Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh is seen as secular Prime Minister, and BJP has been critical towards Bengali Muslim migrants living in Assam. In the last parliament sessions, leaders of the BJP raised the issue illegal migrants to whom the party identified as Bangladeshis who crossed the border much later to the Bangladesh liberation. Many other political parties criticized the BJP’s allegations and saw it as ‘communal policy’ to divide communities in Assam.

In the broader framework, it is too early to judge Modi’s foreign policy after looking this invitation. Of course, one could predict of good relations with the neighboring South Asian countries as of India’s external security policies are concerned especially the right wing.

If India really wants to secure its regional power position, it has initiate programs that can ensure prosperity for both India and neighboring states. We have to wait government’s stakes on Bengali Muslims security, relationship with Pakistan over Kashmir issue and economic cooperation and find opportunities to engage with Sri Lanka.

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