This question is inspired by this tweet, by the NYT South Asia correspondent Maria Abi-Habib:

I'm always surprised by how big a role Pakistan plays in Indian elections. The BJP is now making Delhi state [elections] a fight [between] India & Pakistan. In Pakistani [elections], India doesn't really factor in.

This tweet is regarding the recent Delhi elections that took place in the middle of February, mainly fought between the incumbent AAP and Narendra Modi's BJP. The strategy of the BJP seemed to be to frame the election as a battle between the two countries, with BJP candidate Kapil Mishra terming the polls a "contest between India and Pakistan", and BJP MP & government Minister Anurag Thakur encouraging audience members at a rally to "target traitors".

Clearly this is part of the electoral strategy of the BJP as a Hindu nationalist party, but I'm more interested in whether the observation in the tweet holds true - is this sort of appeal to voters' misgivings about India prevalent in Pakistan, or is India less of a feature in Pakistani elections?


2 Answers 2


India's politics is not Pakistan centric, particularly in State and Local body elections. A clear example is the election mentioned in the question. While BJP's election campaign was based on issues such as Pakistan and Kashmir, AAP's was based on local problems. The people voted for the party focusing on local issues.

Take a look at the BJP's election manifesto for 2014 elections, it is fully about development and corruption. The 2019 election manifesto also does not mention Pakistan although it features Kashmir.

In recent times Pakistan is mentioned in Indian politics more because,

  1. Kashmir and scrapping of Article 35A.
  2. Citizenship Amendment Act.
  3. Terrorist attack and following surgical strikes.

But even in these issues, the local issues take priority over Pakistan. The protests against CAA are about the local Muslim population and not about Pakistan. Aside from BJP, almost no other party mentiones Pakistan in the elections.


... but I'm more interested in whether the observation in the tweet holds true - is this sort of appeal to voters' misgivings about India prevalent in Pakistan, or is India less of a feature in Pakistani elections?

There is a stark difference between India and Pakistan's politics. Pakistan's politics isn't India-centric, and Pakistan doesn't have any politics regarding far-rightism like BJP AKA "Hindutva". This is because the Indian matter is mostly handled by the Pakistan military.

Before 2001, Pakistan's politics mainly revolved around the influence of the military. From 2001 to 2008, in addition to the military, it revolved around War on Terror in Afghanistan. Then, from 2008 and onwards it revolved around Panama-papers and anti-corruption. Since, other major political parties like PPP, PML-N, and MMA are heavily corrupt, they demonstrated a constant clash of interests with the military. As the military has all the intelligence of their corruption, they resorted to the bashing of the military from time to time.

Unlike India, Pakistan's military is a de facto independent state institution. In the past, PML-N and PPP tried to break this culture and heavily paid their prices. Before Imran Khan (IK), PMs only signed papers regarding security and defense matters as the decisions were mostly made by the army. IK has changed the culture. He seems to have the policy to have active cooperation with the military, and we saw that during 27-Feb-2019's Indian attempted invasion on Pakistan.

IK's present government's main agenda is anti-corruption and poverty alleviation. All other major political parties seem to become feeble and inexperienced In this turf, as their traditional political practices do not seem to be working anymore. IK seems to have become extremely popular among youths, and IK's party PTI also uses social media and online platforms heavily to mobilize youths.

Because of IK's leadership and innovation skills, nasty and cheap political practices have become obsolete in Pakistan, and poverty alleviation and anti-corruption have taken the front seat. He also has backing and cooperation from the military. So, the next elections in Pakistan would become a fight of credibility and personal image.

On the other hand, since, Indian politicians do not have any real agenda, they will constantly try to feed on far-rightism and other superficial and made-up issues.

Edit: Someone pointed out that this answer doesn't talk about "Pakistan's toxic Islam" and hence this answer lacks neutrality.

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At present "Toxic Islam" doesn't play any part in Pakistan's politics. Islam may play its part in society, but it has no role in national politics. Two of the major Islamic political parties MMA and JI are almost seatless in Pakistan's parliament.

Secondly, two of the users pointed out 3 Wikipedia articles.

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Wikipedia and other collaborative online/social platforms have 5 times more users from India than from Pakistan. Pakistan's population is 200 million, India has 1.2 billion. Wikipedia is effectively has become a fake news site. Some research institutions prohibit Wikipedia to be used as reference sources.

  • 6
    Hmmm, I love how India being far-right (which it is, mostly religiously so) is played up but Pakistan's heavy and toxic Islamic influence isn't mentioned at all in this answer. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019_India–Pakistan_border_skirmishes also paints a rather different view of "an attempted invasion of Pakistan by India". As usual, the level of partisanship is high with India/Pakistan questions and answers, though in this case it's more the answer that lacks neutrality. Commented Apr 15, 2020 at 22:41
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    It is interesting that you have mentioned that "Wikipedia is effectively has become a fake news site" because more Indians are using it, but you are using a video from channel called "Pakistan Defense" to make your case, does that make it right. You have also mentioned "Indian attempted invasion" why is it attempted? Since the objective was not occupation of Pakistan but to destroy terror camps across Line of Control. Attempted invasion would look something like this : en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kargil_War
    – JaneDoe
    Commented May 23, 2020 at 20:31
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    In your answer you have mentioned "Indian politicians do not have any real agenda", "try to feed on far-rightism and other superficial and made-up issues" , or because there are more Indians on wikipedia thus "Wikipedia is effectively has become a fake news site". However when you are talking about Pakistan you mention, "Islam ... has no role in national politics [in Pakistan]" even though you are speaking of the Islamic republic of Pakistan. Your answer is although long and you may have spent time on it but it is lacking in neutrality. Commented May 24, 2020 at 15:57
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    You could elaborate into the trend of the percentage of minorities in Pakistan since partition till today. Such as percent of population which was Christian, Hindu and other practicing religions during the inception of Pakistan and what percentage it is today. However since you have mentioned "Islam ... has no role in national politics", you could also clarify regarding the sharia and blasphemy laws which have not been repealed. Commented May 28, 2020 at 19:45

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