New Delhi: It was V. P. Singh who first flagged Pakistani terrorism and India and Pakistan almost went to war in 1990 in which Robert Gates of the CIA played a mediatory role. Nearly thirty years later India is no better placed to manage Pakistani terrorism while a war was fought in between by the two sides in Kargil which the United States brought to a close. Then and now, India seems a lone voice decrying Pakistani terrorism. The Narendra Modi government has made Pakistani terrorism the centrepiece of India’s geopolitics. Has it worked? No. You should accept it is not working when the Russians tell you Pakistan has made enormous sacrifices and progress in countering terrorism. At every bilateral meeting or multilateral forum, Modi or his ministers religiously bring up Pakistani terrorism. Mostly, Pakistan is not named and shamed (unless India and Pakistan are at each other’s throat in the United Nations) but everyone knows the score. Out of respect for India, terrorism duly enters joint statements and communiques. On the ground, however, it has scarcely made a difference. Jammu and Kashmir is, as ever, on the boil. More soldiers have died in the border state with Pakistan since the Modi government adopted a “muscular” policy with Pakistan and within Jammu and Kashmir. Not to put too fine a point on it, India’s “Pakistan-is-a-terror-state” policy is headed nowhere.

Since this is a public forum, this writer would be constrained from sharing corrective measures. It is indisputable, however, that flagging “Pakistani terrorism” at the smallest opportunity presented overseas has made it subject to the law of diminishing returns. Nor is there a premium to be gained anymore in bragging about the so-called “surgical strikes”. Narendra Modi might like to claim it struck fear into the collective hearts of the Pakistan army. That is pure exaggeration. It is wise neither to lionize nor underestimate the adversary. In any event, Pakistan has avenged the “surgical strikes”. The verdict is out that the Modi government’s muscular policies apropos Pakistan and within Jammu and Kashmir have ceased to deliver if they ever did. It is time to think more imaginatively about countering terrorism. The world has no interest in India’s complains against Pakistan. Even the Donald Trump administration has accepted the limited utility of India in Afghanistan and is focussed on containing Pakistani terrorism in that country. It is unlikely to succeed. If the United States with all its resources and influence cannot bring Pakistan to heel, what chance does India have, especially when it chooses to be unimaginative in dealing with terrorism?

This is not to suggest that India drops its terrorism plank altogether and adopts a “forget and forgive” approach with Pakistan. To counter Pakistani terrorism effectively, however, multiple approaches have to be embraced. These are too sensitive to be openly discussed. But Pakistani terrorism, to give a random example, cannot be permitted to destroy SAARC. Whatever happens under the surface, diplomacy should not be abandoned. Countries should forever strive to gain leverages. India has built decent leverage in several areas but keeps no account of it. Astutely handled, SAARC would substantially enrich India’s existing levers. The Modi government, nevertheless, is reconciled to the death of SAARC because of its embitterment with Pakistani terrorism and its failure thereof. When a policy does not bear fruit, it should be abandoned for something smarter and thoughtful. This is not happening.

Through all this, the true nature of state-supported Pakistani terrorism is also not understood. While under extreme pressure of one or another kind the terror tap can be turned off, it can be turned on once the pressure eases. This is an old game with Pakistan. Pakistan cannot be isolated for terrorism. It is too important for both the new Cold War blocs, the United States and the West on one side, and Russia and China on the other. India is so geopolitically situated that it cannot take sides. Which is why it is essential that India conserves its geopolitical energies and devotes a portion of it for long-term strategizing about Pakistani terrorism. India must employ all the levers at its command and not hesitate to gain some more through devises like SAARC. The government must adopt a layered approach to Pakistani terrorism. Under one-man rule, this does not look possible.

Editor’s Note: A judge is expected to deliver justice. In the case of a Supreme Court judge, expectations of justice are infinitely higher. The Supreme Court chief justice, Dipak Misra, however, is placed in a rather unfortunate situation today. The BJP has insinuated via the media, in contempt, one might add, that the chief justice will deliver a pro-Ram temple judgment in the Ayodhya case. This is why, it is alleged, it was keen that the impeachment notice brought against the chief justice by the Congress party was rejected at the first opportunity. It is also surmised that the Congress party moved for his impeachment to disqualify the chief justice from hearing the Ayodhya matter. All this makes for dreadful and depressing reading. It lowers the office of the chief justice and brings harm to the incumbent’s personal reputation. In the circumstances, the chief justice might consider leaving the case to his successor to dispose.

As for the BJP which hopes to capitalize on a pro-temple judgment in the 2019 general election, it might be instructive to revisit the past. The party failed in the first Uttar Pradesh assembly election called after the demolition. The demolition had sucked the energies out of Hindutva. In the same way, a pro-verdict may cause masses of BJP voters to drift away from the party with the “temple glue” gone. Its effect on 2019 could be tectonic. For all the strivings of the RSS, VHP and BJP, Hinduism is not a Semitic religion. It is one with Nature and perhaps not even a religion. Narendra Modi should not bet on Hindutva to re-elect him. Hindutva played almost no role in getting him to the prime minister’s office with a majority.