By Farooq Wani
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent Kargil visit to celebrate Diwali with soldiers in Kargil comes as no big surprise. While detractors may dismiss it as a publicity stunt, the fact of the matter is that this gesture means a lot for those who, being charged with the responsibility of defending the country’s borders, could not be home with their near and dear ones for celebrating this auspicious occasion. In fact, Modi’s decision to celebrate Diwali with troops manning our tenuous borders symbolises the country’s consummate solidarity with our defence forces due to whose constant vigil, we can peacefully sleep in our homes.
Ever since he became the Prime Minister, Modi has been celebrating festivals with soldiers deployed on the borders. In 2019, he celebrated Diwali with troops along the Line of Control (LoC) in Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir. Referring to them as his own “family”, he lauded the soldiers for their effective role in safeguarding India’s territorial integrity despite extremely trying and hazardous conditions. During this visit, he had also exchanged Diwali greetings with the Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel at Pathankot Air Force Station.
With the ongoing Sino-Indian standoff in Ladakh, the Prime Minister’s recent visit to Kargil assumes greater importance. Reiterating that “For me, all of you have been my family for years now (and) it is a privilege to spend Diwali with our brave jawans in Kargil,” the Prime Minister used this occasion to send a strongly worded and no-nonsense message to both our belligerent neighbours. He once again reiterated that though India has always viewed war as the last resort, its armed forces have both the strength and strategies to give a befitting reply to anyone who casts an evil eye on the nation.
By saying that “There has not been a single war with Pakistan when Kargil has not flown the victory flag,” Modi reminded Islamabad regarding Pakistan army’s repeated failures to make any territorial gains in this area during the both the Indo-Pak conflicts of 1965 and 1971 as well as the brazen Kargil intrusions of 1999 aimed at cutting-off Siachen Glacier. Adding that Diwali symbolised the “celebration of the end of terror,” he not only showed Pakistan the mirror, but also reminded the international community of the continuing cross being perpetrated by India’s eastern neighbour.
While making it clear that India was in favour of global peace, Modi rightly pointed out that “peace cannot be achieved without strength.” Calling the defence forces as the pillar of India’s security, he rightly said that a nation is safe only when its borders are secure, economy is strong and society is full of confidence. This statement lucidly puts across India’s priorities and makes it clear that New Delhi will not make any compromises as far as India’s national interests are concerned. It is also a reaffirmation of New Delhi’s outright rejection of Beijing’s claim of “normalised management and control” in Ladakh
Critics may accuse Modi of being overbearing and even autocratic, but they can’t deny the fact that by his straight talk and firm determination independent foreign policy keeping India’s national interests foremost, he has ensured that India’s voice is both heard and respected by the international community. An example is his matter-of-fact “today’s era is not an era of war” remark that was made to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Similarly, India’s refusal to abide by the US imposed sanction against oil purchase from Russia, and Washington meekly submitting by saying that New Delhi would not be sanctioned for doing so, clearly demonstrates that the world knows that India’s national interests are not negotiable. Even Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has been one of the most vocal Modi detractors lauded Modi’s independent foreign policy by saying, “Despite being part of the Quad, India sustained pressure from the US and bought discounted Russian oil to provide relief to the masses.”
Khan has also admitted that “They [Modi government] protect their independent foreign policy which is centered on its people” as well as referred to “the British foreign secretary’s statement that they can’t say anything to India as it has an independent foreign policy.” Most importantly, by conceding that “Indians are khuddar qaum (very self-respecting people); no superpower can dictate terms to India,” Khan has aptly summed up the Modi government’s phenomenal global outreach.
The author is Editor of Brighter Kashmir, Author, TV commentator, political analyst and columnist. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org
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