Most sensible people were looking forward to the meeting of the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan in New York. Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan had written to his counterpart PM Narendra Modi that he wanted to discuss all outstanding issues and problems which have bedevilled the relations between their two countries, and instead of conflict and war find peaceful means of resolving them. The Modi Government first agreed but then backtracked. I am not sure if a precedent exists in the past when such drastic change in policy and decision took place in Indian behaviour towards Pakistan in the absence of something dramatic happening to justify it. It was alleged that Imran Khan was the puppet of the Pakistan Army and his real face has been exposed: apparently because of the stamps issued with images of some Kashmiri activists killed by Indian security forces in the Indian-administered Kashmir and firing on the LoC which killed soldiers on the Indian side. I do not want to belittle or demean the Indian allegations. However, I think that in the long, painful and bloody history of Pakistan-India relations, such events are endemic. Talking at the level of foreign ministers would have been an opportune moment to find out what is in the offing from the Pakistani side and vice versa. Obviously, no breakthrough was going to happen if India remained sceptical and unconvinced about Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his boss Imran Khan’s sincerity and intentions. The reaction of major players with a stake in the India-Pakistan relationship responded positively. In Pakistan, people started talking about the great economic advantage Pakistan would draw from trade being opened along the Wagah border with Afghanistan and central Asia. There have been talks about India being invited to join CPEC. Nothing of the level of an attack on Pathankot or Uri in Indian-administered Kashmir had taken place recently to warrant the decision to call of the talks with Pakistan. Instead, offensive language against the Pakistani PM was used. The Indian reaction is in very bad taste. It is crude, rude and unprofessional. I don’t say this because some patriotic streak in me has suddenly come to life. I do it with all the sincerity I can muster as a firm believer in peace between the two nations and their people as the key to progress and prosperity. Most certainly Pakistan must do all to allay Indian fears because it is in the best interest of Pakistan. Equally, India must be willing to consider Pakistan’s legitimate interests and compulsions. I have been watching Indian channels in the evenings when I am too exhausted to write on a book which should be finished in a week or so. The Modi Government is apparently feeling insecure about its future, because in 2019 the next general election is going to take place in India. The much hyped demonetisation measures announced in the Indian parliament in November 2016 amid pomp and show have proved to be a fiasco. The Hindu of August 31, 2018 reported, “The Reserve Bank of India’s in its annual report for 2017-18 revealed that 99.3 percent of the currency notes that were demonetised have returned to the market. Thus, the principal reason for the exercise has been almost wholly belied.” The Modi Government is desperate to hide its own failures and is trying instead to divert attention using sensational claims of conspiracies against him and the Indian state Other implications of such failure have included a slowdown in the growth rate and so on. Corruption is rampant in the corridors of power and people are saying that its not Modi but Nitin Shah who rules India. Modi does all the talking and Amit Shah all the activities which are jeopardising Indian democracy and tearing apart its social fabric. Senior BJP members who held minister posts under late Atal Bihari Vajpayee such as Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie are among those who have come out with scathing criticism of the Modi regime. We all have been watching with absolute alarm the RSS and the right-wing of the BJP making a mockery of historiography, archaeology and even the natural sciences. What started happening in Pakistan not very long ago is now being emulated in India. Additionally, extremist Hindu nationalists are having a field day in terrorising minorities, suppressing criticism and harassing and intimidating critics. On August 28, several human rights and Dalit rights intellectuals and activists were arrested on charges of planning to assassinate Modi, overthrow the elected Indian government and plunge the state into anarchy, chaos and civil war. Among those arrested is my old friend Gautam Navlakha, who used to live in Stockholm during the 1970s, but then returned and since then has been an outspoken critic of the high-handed policies of the Modi Government towards Dalits and Indian-administered Kashmir. Whenever in Delhi, I usually spend one evening with him reminiscing our old days together and remembering friends and associations we had together. Believing in revolution and armed struggle as the way out for the mass of the Indian poor is not a crime. It may not be a practicable measure or other peaceful means can be discussed which can deliver better results, but intellectualising social misery and proposing revolutionary change must remain an inalienable right of every citizen, in fact of every human being. Navlakha and his friends have been projected as urban Naxalites, that is Maoists bringing armed struggle from the forests and habitats of Dalits and tribal people to towns and cities. Unless it can be proved beyond reasonable doubt that these people were involved in subversive activities they cannot be assumed to have committed any culpable offence. Their case is at present being examined by the Indian Supreme Court. The Modi Government is desperate to hide its own failures and is trying instead to divert attention using sensational claims of conspiracies against him and the Indian state. The same tendency is manifest in its erratic behaviour, first to agree to begin talks with the Imran Khan Government and then call them off. I do hope the Indian people vote Modi out of office next year. The writer is Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Stockholm University; Visiting Professor Government College University; and, Honorary Senior Fellow, Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore. He has written a number of books and won many awards, he can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, September 24th 2018.