What do the UP election results mean for the Modi government’s Pakistan policy?
There has been some speculation that the government had been waiting for the UP elections+ to be over to pick up the threads of engagement with Pakistan, which have gone into deep freeze since the Uri attack, reports Times of India.
After a massive electoral endorsement in crucial state elections, Modi now appears politically unassailable. This has implications for his foreign policy, because winning elections halfway through a government’s term is tricky everywhere, but he seems to have cracked the code.
And that will make him a global leader to reckon with, particularly if established democratic leaders are seen to be floundering in elections across the world this year.
Within India’s immediate neighbourhood, Modi’s political strength will help in his dealings with other countries. An immediate beneficiary is likely to be Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who will probably be the first to visit India in April.
Modi is likely to go around Mamata Banerjee’s obstructions to work out a deeper security and resources-sharing relationship with Bangladesh. India might find it easier to deal with Nepal, which is again sinking into a state of political instability.
But Pakistan remains the real question. In 2016, Modi took a tough approach to Pakistan after the Uri attack, which included the surgical strikes of September 29 and a decision to review the Indus Waters Treaty.
Official engagement between India and Pakistan remain on hold although humanitarian gestures including prisoner exchange and routine meetings are all on track. But it has given rise to an expectation that some Pakistan outreach may be on the horizon.
During the election campaign, Modi received a lot of popular support for the strikes across the LoC, and his tough approach. He could continue that, using the popular victory as a vindication of his policy. On the other hand, he could use his victory to reach out to the Pakistan leadership.