Well, that was quick. Less than 48 hours after the Bharatiya Janata Party received its mandate to form the next national government, a senior party leader and a Pakistani analyst were exchanging threats of nuclear war.
Nitin Gadkari, a former party president, who is likely to become a minister in the new cabinet, had been invited onto Headlines Today for a round of oral combat with the Pakistani strategic affairs expert Tariq Pirzada. Like a new neighbour who comes upstairs with a cricket bat to say hello and explain his claim on your parking space, Gadkari was keen to explain how the new government in Delhi would be changing the terms of cross-border engagement.
“I want to ask my Pakistani friend, does beheading our four soldiers and taking their heads away look good on part of the Pakistani military?” Gadkari said. And: “We have zero tolerance of terrorist organisations. Pakistan agar yeh bandh nahi kiya toh Pakistan ko iski keemat chukane padegi—” (If Pakistan doesn’t stop this, then Pakistan will have to pay the price for it).
The loud incoming whine was not the first missile, but an interjection by the anchor, Rahul Kanwal: “That’s a very interesting response from the former BJP president! You can’t behead our soldiers and expect us to sit back!”
But neither had factored in the Pakistanis’ policy of mutually assured dhamki, which Pirzada quickly laid out. “If Mr Modi, or the BJP, come up with a strategy of launching a strike into Pakistan under a false pretense,” he shot back, “I can tell you one thing: Pakistan is a nuclear state …”