Is Modi Setting Up South Asia for Chaos?
Ambassador Jamil Khan
Cynthia McKinney, Ph.D.
Ill winds are blowing in South Asia and by the time they settle down, an entirely new
political landscape could be in full view. India’s annexation of Jammu and Kashmir is only the
latest in a series of Modi moves that demonstrate that change is in the air.
India’s annexation of Jammu and Kashmir comes as no surprise and, quite frankly, is in
keeping with India’s behavior after the British Colonial period ended in 1947, when the so-called
“Princely States,” semi-autonomous regions within “British India,” were given the choice of
acceding to the newly-created state of Pakistan or the newly-independent state of India. “British
India” consisted of today’s countries of Pakistan, Kashmir, India, Bangladesh, and Myanmar.
Afghanistan, Nepal, and Bhutan remained untouched by the British or any other Western
European colonial powers. Jammu and Kashmir was only one of many “Princely States” whose
future was not decided at that time of the British exit as colonial master: the fates of Nagaland,
Assam, Manipur, and Sikkim—all eventually incorporated into the Republic of India—were
presages of what was to come for Jammu and Kashmir. The state of India took these actions
without regard to the feelings of the local people and as a result, had to fend off secessionist
movements that have only just now begun to subside. The difference between these areas and
Jammu and Kashmir is that the Muslim majority Jammu and Kashmir had the support of
Pakistan at the United Nations and other international forums. Thus, Modi’s India has struck a
match to the kindling that was always Jammu and Kashmir. The problem for India is that it has
smoldering fires already lit on several other fronts. The problem for the region is that this is not
the only fire now burning. First, Modi’s India’s smoldering fires.
Narendra Modi came to power as a “genocidaire:” someone who has in the past incited
genocide. In February 2002, a train caught fire carrying Hindu pilgrims in India’s state of
Gujarat. Modi, Chief Minister of the state at the time, blamed the Pakistanis; a pogrom ensued
with hundreds of Muslims dying and over 200,000 Muslims losing their homes. Culprits
committing horrendous acts against Muslim Gujaratis claimed that Modi told the police to stand
down for three days while the rampage continued. Babu Gajrangi, one of the conspirators,
admits that Modi toured the Hindu areas and told him, “Well done.” Gajrangi further states that
Modi arranged to get him out of jail. The New York Times “Timeline” of the incident states 1
that “a top state official” who was later murdered stated that Modi ordered officials to take no
actions against the perpetrators, resulting in thousands of cases being dropped despite
eyewitnesses. Paving his way to the Prime Minister’s office, in 2012, Modi’s chief assistant was 2
charged and convicted and is currently serving a 28-year sentence in prison. In all, 31 were
convicted of murder. Despite encouraging his subordinates to genocide, Modi escaped all
charges. Unfortunately, Modi has done nothing to stop the religious violence since he became
In addition to the direct violence taking place between Hindus and Muslims in India—
which is supposed to be a secular state according to its Constitution—Muslims are being
subjected to new laws that affect their right to practice their religion and to live, according to the
2019 Report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. The Report
specifically mentions forced conversions, cow slaughter laws, and vigilante groups. Moreover, 3
Muslims in Modi’s India, just like the Muslims in Myanmar, are being asked to prove their
citizenship for India’s new National Register of Citizens (NRC). President of Modi’s Hindu
Nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Member of Parliament Amit Shah stated that India
is now ready to accept Hindu refugees from any country and give them Indian citizenship even if
they are not included on the Citizenship Registry. Further, the Citizenship Amendment Bill of
2019 which was introduced into parliament in January 2019, stated that Hindus, Buddhists, Jains,
Sikhs, Parsis, and Christians from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh would be accepted into
Indian citizenship. If this sounds eerily familiar, it should. It is the existing policy of Israel to
accept any Jew from anywhere as a citizen of Israel and the U.S. taxpayers, through a line item in
the annual State Department authorization bill, pay for Jewish resettlement to Israel.
It should not come as a surprise, then, that Modi’s India has partnered with Israel and the
U.S.A. in an unprecedented scale compared to its past. India, a co-founder of the Non-Aligned
Movement and trusted Russian ally, has reversed its positions under Prime Minister Narendra
Modi, even refusing to support Palestine at the United Nations and cementing its relationship
with Israel with arms deals, agricultural programs, and cultural exchanges. India has also signed
three important agreements with the Pentagon, upgrading its military relationship with the U.S.
Narendra Modi could prove to be as destabilizing for South Asia as U.S. President Donald
Trump has been in the global arena. Additionally, the Trump Administration has named India
its “Major Strategic Partner” in the “Indo-Pacific,” defined by the Trump Administration as the
area starting in Western India extending to the West Coast of the U.S. No wonder ISIS—just
another one of the many U.S.-manufactured terrorist outfits—is turning its attention away from
West Asia and toward India.4
By providing a major grievance for the Muslim majority population of Jammu and
Kashmir, and all of the Constitution-minded Indians of every faith, Modi’s India, with its more
than 184 million Muslims, and new partnerships with the U.S. and Israel could be in for more 5
than it bargained for. After all, Pakistanis have little to show for their generations of loyalty to the
U.S. This explains why Pakistan, under its new Prime Minister, Imran Khan, is now looking to
all of its neighbors in the region for peaceful solutions to the region’s problems. Without a steady
hand for peace in India, and with even deeper penetration of the region by the U.S. and Israel,
“The Great Game” of U.S. geostrategy shifts to South Asia. Thus, we believe that the U.S.
“Pivot to Asia” is a pivot to South Asia—and that could have dire consequences for the entire
It is perceived in most Muslim majority countries that the new covert strategy of this India-
U.S.-Israel nexus is aimed at neutralizing the only Muslim-majority nuclear state—Pakistan—
through various diplomatic and non- diplomatic scenarios, with the possibility of full-blown
military action. After all, in 1971, India and Israel joined to Balkanize Pakistan and create the
Muslim-majority state of Bangladesh. Overt attempts to Balkanize Pakistan once again, by
dismembering Baluchistan, seem to be at the top of India’s agenda, although Pakistan appears to
have taken strong counter measures to prevent such an outcome.
By annulling Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution, India has annexed Jammu
and Kashmir and now non-Kashmiris are allowed to move into Kashmir, buy property, obtain
state employment, and live there. Modi’s India has set the stage for large-scale ethnic cleansing
or worse. Moreover, to arrive at these conditions, India has quite possibly disregarded
international law, including the United Nations Charter and Article 49 of the Geneva
Convention, pertaining to protections of civilian populations.
Depriving Kashmiris of their inherent special status rights granted during pre- and post-
partition of India will, undoubtedly, encourage an even more massive military deployment by
India—which has already begun. Kashmiris, who have fought for their independence for
generations, are not about to forego their right to self-determination. Kashmiri leaders have
already started giving distress calls to the world community, especially to Muslim states, to protect
them from the human rights violations that are sure to come. We believe that Modi, who has
already presided over one genocide, is fully prepared to preside over another. In such an
atmosphere, it is clear that Modi’s India, with its ascendant Hindu Nationalist ideology—
HINDUTVA—will spur underground movements, not only in Kashmir, but also in the entirety
of the country. Unless Modi’s India immediately returns to a semblance of secularism, India
could very well spin out of control.
As for the region, Bangladesh, on the other side of India, is playing host to one million
Muslim Rohingya who fled persecution in majority-Buddhist Myanmar. And Myanmar is
engulfed in internal, low-intensity warfare from its own 135 ethnic groups trying to build self-
determination in a post-colonial setting and within the idea of a single nation.
We encourage responsible actors in the international community to stop this deadly spin
before it’s too late.