Modi’s belligerent stance raises risk of war with Pakistan: NYT report

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WASHINGTON, Oct. 24 (APP): With his threatening posture towards
Pakistan, Indian Prime Minister Narandera Modi has raised the stakes of a nuclear conflict in South Asia, says a report in leading US newspaper the New York Times, quoting political and defence experts.

The report said that Modi’s response to recent militant attacks inside
India and in the held valley of Kashmir, which he blamed on Pakistan, has stirred up nationalist passion and that frenzy, stoked by the Indian news media, has posed the danger of pushing India into war with Pakistan.

According to the report, there are growing concerns that with his tough
stance, Mr. Modi may have raised the risks of war between Pakistan and India, both possessing nuclear weapons.

The report says that experts are concerned about India’s reaction to any such attack in future.

India had blamed recent terrorists attacks on militants, it said, came
from Pakistan, an allegation Pakistan had already denied.

“We’re not at the point of no return, but we are in very dangerous
waters,” the report said quoting Bruce Riedel, a fellow at the Brookings Institution who served in the Central Intelligence Agency, where he advised several American presidents on South Asia.

The report noted that Modi’s stance has unleashed a nationalist fury
within India which may be hard to contain.

That frenzy has been further stoked by the Indian news media and is in
danger of pushing India into conflict, said Myra MacDonald, a noted journalist and author of a recent book on South Asia.

Quoting experts, the report said that Pakistan is not eager to plunge
into war, but that Pakistani military would retaliate if India carried out a major strike.

“The Pakistani military will be forced to retaliate in the event of a
more prominent strike,” the report quoted an Indian defense analyst, Ajai Shukla, as saying, adding that there was no predicting where such a conflict could lead.

“I’m scared, We’re not Israel bullying Gaza, or the U.S. with Haiti.
We’re the fourth biggest army confronting the 11th biggest army.”
Mr. Riedel, the American expert said that the big danger here was that
once you get started up the escalation ladder, “how do you cool it off?”
According to Mr. Shukla, Modi’s predecessors were more risk averse by
nature and that previous Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would not take that risk and would place India’s economic development ahead of it.

Fueled by Modi’s rhetoric, Indian film industry has also jumped into
the extremist nationalist frenzy and a leading Bollywood group has announced to ban employing Pakistani actors.

With elections coming up in Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest state,
analyst Ms. MacDonald said that while Mr. Modi might believe that such hard stance towards Pakistan would help in winning voters, it was confirming fears in Pakistan that India is the aggressor and is not interested in peace.

Ms. MacDonald warned that in the “media frenzy” there was a little room
for either side to initiate dialogue.

Mr. Riedel said that “It’s a very dangerous situation”.