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India-Pak relations hit a new low

India-Pak relations hit a new low
India-Pakistan relations have touched a new low in recent weeks with both countries accusing each other of harassing and intimidating diplomatic staff. The latest row kicked off when Indian high commissioner Ajay Bisaria was not given the membership of the Islamabad Club. Bisaria joined the Indian High Commission in Pakistan last year and soon after applied for the membership to the club. New Ambassadors and High Commissioners usually seek membership of this prestigious club in Pakistan's capital Islamabad. The club authorities also hinted that membership of other diplomatic staff of Indian High Commission in Pakistan will not be renewed once the term of their membership comes to an end. This was followed by harassment of Indian diplomatic staff by stalking and snapping electricity and water supply to their houses. Pakistan too complained of similar harassment of its diplomatic staff in New Delhi and recalled its envoy Sohail Mahmood to Islamabad for consultations and said that the Pakistani high commissioner will not return to India until the situation becomes normal. Early this week, five of a family were killed in the Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir in an unprovoked firing from Pakistan. And on Monday, Pakistan protested India denying visa to over 500 pilgrims from Pakistan, who wanted to visit Ajmer Sharif on the occasion of Urs of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti even as a 'chadar' was offered at the famous shrine on behalf of Indian Prime Minister Modi.
The deteriorating relationship between the two countries can be gauged from the fact that Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said last week that if the unprovoked firing from Pakistan did not stop, Indian troops could cross over the border and teach Pakistan a lesson for its misdemeanor. Pakistan has not only continued with unprovoked ceasefire violations but also intensified shelling and firings in recent months, resulting in loss of life of security forces and the civilians. This coupled with harassment charges and recalling of Pakistani top diplomat suggests a hardening of stance on part of Pakistan. The general elections in Pakistan are due in July this year and PML (N) which is in power is in a bad shape given the fact that its leader Nawaz Sharif has been barred by the Pakistani courts from holding a public office for the rest of his life. He has also been barred from holding any post in his party. His daughter Maryam Nawaz is contesting elections for the first time and is expected to become the prime minister of Pakistan if PML (N) comes back to power. PML (N) is facing a stiff competition from Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and other parties including Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). The ceasefire violations, harassment of Indian diplomatic staff and recalling of its High Commissioner from India could be part of Pakistan government's agenda to whip up support for PML (N) in the election year. But more than Pakistan, the current policy to create problems for India may end up helping BJP and its government at the Centre. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is under tremendous pressure to respond to Pakistan's mischievous acts. And, it is an election year for India too.
BJP has lost a number of by-elections in politically important big states and the opposition parties are joining hands against the BJP government led by Narendra Modi. Before the elections in 2019, the nation would have some clear indications as to who is going to form the next government. Three of the big states Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, where BJP is in power, are going to polls later this year. There are two more states, Karnataka and Mizoram, going to polls later this year and the Congress is in power in the two states. If BJP loses some of these states, the nation would know what the trends are for the 2019 elections.

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