India appears to be “at war with itself”, a leading Pakistani daily observed on Saturday, adding that the politics of fear and hate appears to be on the march on both sides of the border.
An editorial “Atmosphere of hate” in the influential daily Dawn said: “It is as real as it is alarming: India appears to be at war with itself, while India and Pakistan are drifting ever further apart.”
It added that “neither of those realities are good for peace or stability in South Asia”.
The editorial noted that a “slew of internationally and nationally regarded Indian artists and activists have now returned various awards bestowed on them by Indian academies to protest against the assault on Indian secularism and inter-communal peace by right-wing forces”.
On Thursday, Arundhati Roy was the latest and most prominent of those adding their voices to the growing protest in India.
“The response to the anguish being felt and now vocalised by India’s right-thinking citizens has been predictable. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who critics point out has refused to condemn religiously inspired violence and has failed to live up to his campaign promise of being the leader of all Indians, has been dismissive of the criticisms,” said the daily.
When a report by Moody’s Analytics cautioned the Indian prime minister that he “must keep his members in check or risk losing domestic and global credibility” this week, “the government immediately and unusually lashed out at the author of the report and dismissed it ‘as the personal opinion of a junior associate economist employed with Moody’s Analytics’.”
That was immediately contradicted by Moody’s itself, which stood by the comments in the report.
The Dawn editorial noted: “While a small incident, it does show the great gulf between practice and promise: the Modi government is more sensitive to criticism than it is to acts of violence against Indians themselves.”
It went on to say that unhappily, “the Pakistani response to the assault on Indian secularism and freedoms has also been fairly predictable”.
“Many sections of the political class, media and civil society here have seemingly revelled in the recent tensions in India because it has allegedly exposed the real agenda of the Modi government and its supporters.
But if that were true, could the rise of a rabid right-wing politics in India possibly be in any way good for Pakistan or the region?, the daily asked.
“Sadly, myopia appears to reign on both sides of the border. Perhaps most telling is that a Pakistani criticising the Pakistani state is increasingly considered an anti-patriot at home while an Indian criticising the Indian state is considered a hero – and vice versa.
“The politics of fear and hate appear to be on the march on both sides of the border,” it added.