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India seems to be at war with itself, says Pakistan newspaper

Islamabad: Observing that “India appears to be at war with itself”, an editorial in a leading Pakistani daily on Saturday said that India and Pakistan are drifting ever further apart from each other. Titled “Atmosphere of Hate”, the editorial in The 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”.

“Neither of those realities are good for peace or stability in South Asia,” it said adding 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”.

The article highlighted Arundhati Roy as the latest and most prominent of those adding their voices to the growing protest in India.

“In typically direct language, Ms Roy condemned what she termed a kind of ideological viciousness and an assault on our collective IQ that will tear us apart and bury us very deep if we do not stand up to it now,” the Dawn editorial said.

It quoted an article in The Indian Express in which Roy announced the return of her National Award for Best Screenplay that she won in 1989 as she wrote that “whole populations of millions of Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims and Christians are being forced to live in terror, unsure of when and from where the assault will come”.

“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,” the editorial said.

It quoted a report by Moody’s Analytics that “cautioned the Indian prime minister that he ‘must keep his members in check or risk losing domestic and global credibility”. It said the government had “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'”.

“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,” the Dawn editorial said.

“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,” it said.

“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? Sadly, myopia appears to reign on both sides of the border,” it said.

The editorial said “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”.