In Pakistan's case, Modi is also upping the ante.
During his Independence Day speech on August 15, Modi referenced human rights violations in Balochistan, one of Pakistan's four provinces and home to Gwadar. A few days earlier, Modi said at a parliament meeting that Islamabad must answer for its atrocities against Balochistan and Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
The death toll in Kashmir has been mounting ever since the July 8 killing of 22-year old Burhan Wani, a separatist leader who was popular among Kashmiris seeking secession from India, while Balochistan has witnessed a sharp rise in sectarian attacks.
"Modi's reference to disputed territories in his speech alerts the region, especially China, to revisions in India's Pakistan policy. Pakistan-occupied Kashmir is part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Modi has thrown down the gauntlet on China's infrastructure plans for Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Gilgit, areas of dispute," said Harsh V Pant, professor at King's College London, in an August 25 note on Yale Global Online, a publication of Yale University.
Modi's comments reveal his hardened stance on resuming dialogue with Pakistan, Pant continued. "The Modi government is no longer holding back and wants to expose Pakistan's own internal vulnerabilities to the world in an attempt to change the strategic calculus of its neighbor."
Taking a tough line against Islamabad will also boost Modi's position as a strong leader as his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party faces 15 state elections over the next two years and as continued bloodshed weighs on the coalition government in Kashmir, Eurasia pointed out.
Indian policy strategists have long cautioned against the idea of changing terms of engagement with China and Pakistan. But as Mohan observed, Modi's administration seems to view the matter as especially pressing. "Some in Delhi insist these two fronts are no longer separate and that India has no option but to come to terms with their fusion—most notably in Kashmir and Balochistan."
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