The political ideology of Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) derives strength from the ‘Hindu First’ concept that seeks to reinvent India. In simple terms, it is based on the belief that India’s national identity should be based on Hinduism, and that India should become a Hindu state. In the lead-up to the 2014 elections, Modi’s image was punctiliously constructed to successfully divert attention away from his complicity in the 2002 slaughter of Muslims by Hindu zealots. Modi was then the Chief Minister (CM) of Gujrat and was internationally reviled for his role in the crime. Now again, as the 2019 electioneering progresses, BJP’s exclusionary nationalist agenda is becoming yet more apparent. It is not too farfetched to assume that a second term for Modi would mean that Hindu nationalism would gain further traction over Indian politics and will shape the values and motivations of the country. With the resurgence of Hindu nationalism, it is likely that as in the past, violence in Kashmir will escalate with direct consequences for Pakistan-India relations. Many analysts view the current instability in Kashmir as Hindu nationalist-inspired retaliatory violence against minorities, particularly the Muslims in India who form the largest minority group in the country. The continued marginalisation of these people, the suppression of their rights, and the continued disparagement of their culture, history and traditions by the majority population will beget more violence and extremism in the region. Already, in Indian occupied Kashmir, the BJP government’s anti-Muslim policies have turned an increasing number of Kashmiris against the Indian regime, thereby, exacerbating current crises and exponentially increasing the risk for triggering new ones. India needs to understand that the movement in Kashmir represents popular aspirations with the power to mobilise whole communities. The violence seen of late is a reaction to the Indian iniquities, including indiscriminate use of pellet guns, rape and torture. From a peaceful struggle premised on the right to self-determination, the Kashmir movement is gradually putting on the garb of militancy. However, this militancy is neither irrational nor predatory in nature, it is fuelled by the collective needs and fears of a suppressed community. If the Pulwama incident proved anything, it is that such sentiment should not be allowed to fester, as the resulting outcome does not bode well for the region. Instead, Modi needs to focus on addressing the economic, political and social deprivations of the people that factor into the underlying motivation for such mobilization. If the Pulwama incident proved anything, it is that grievances against the state should not be allowed to fester, as the resulting outcome does not bode well for the region Pakistan’s present leadership has repeatedly called for talks, on all issues, including terrorism. In fact, the government has already initiated action against proscribed organisations, and announced “new steps to seize and freeze the assets of people and militant groups who are on the United Nations’ list of designated terrorists.” On Tuesday, March 5th, security agencies arrested 44 members of banned outfits, including a brother of Masood Azhar, the leader of the Islamic militant group called Jaish-e-Mohammed. While Imran Khan’s credentials as a statesman and peace-maker may have been established by the way he handled this crisis, he has still to show the world his commitment to harshly and effectively dealing with these banned outfits. Pakistan’s compliance with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations are still not up to par with international requirements regarding the need to curb terrorist financing and money laundering. To avoid being blacklisted, it is imperative that PM Khan show resolve and readiness to take action against organisations preaching extremism. The international community needs to see him implement his well-intentioned resolutions through practical actions that visibly produce results. Therefore, the initiative has to come from Pakistan. The Indian government, on the other hand, views these pronouncements as overused clichés meant only to conceal the truth. In line with this assumption, India has continued its diplomatic onslaught in an effort to punish Pakistan through political and economic isolation. Although PM Khan has handled recent developments in Pakistan-India relations with incontrovertible poise, the realisation of his efforts for peace and reconciliation would require cooperation from the premier state institutions. So far, the government has expressed resolve to strike against extremist outfits, as it has already done in the case of TLP, but it must now take decisive action in eliminating the rest of the extremist elements that are preaching hatred in the name of religion. The people of Pakistan have seen enough of violence, let there be peace now. Besides, this would serve as a crucial foundation for creating the trust and confidence necessary for promoting genuine dialogue and pacific settlement of disputes in the region. Going by the optics alone, PM Khan has the backing of all necessary institutions, including the army, for action against extremism and terrorism and those that perpetrate such. One hopes that this is not an over-simplified assumption. The writer is a former Ambassador Published in Daily Times, March 9th 2019.