Former Foreign Secretary-Former Pakistani High Commissioner to India
The results of the Indian general elections are stunning in magnitude and implications. The thunderous win of the BJP is a convincing endorsement of India’s confidence in the person of Narendra Modi and his hyper nationalist agenda. In its historical expanse, the 2019 constitutes a definite turning point in India’s trajectory. The vision of India as a Hindu state has been stamped indelibly and Nehru’s secular India has faded into obscurity.
A country as vast and diverse in terms of religions, ethnicities, cultures, languages and stark disparities of caste and creed has succumbed to the lure of populism and majoritarianism. This will impact Indian society and could lead to further polarization, hazardous for societal harmony, unity and amity. Narendra Modi in his new avatar will have to rise above, for the sake of India’s future, to quell the fires of hate and prejudice that his supporters of the RSS variant have lit in their ideological zeal.
India has voted for reviving its supposed past glory omitting nearly a millennium of its history. An Indian civilisational renaissance is perhaps what was intended. But this requires features of character, values, vision and above all self-discipline and hard work. Modi must now think about the sort of legacy that he will bequeath: a statesman-peacemaker and a builder of modern India, or a destroyer of peace and warmonger.
The vote was as much an endorsement of his leadership and charisma as it was for his hate slogans. The question now is: will he be swamped by the venom against minorities and Pakistan that he used as election winning gimmicks, or will he be able to quell the hate and war hysteria that he and his party created so massively. As well wishers of India, one would hope that Narendra Modi will now switch gears and prove himself to be guided by rational decision making.
Pakistan has made abundantly clear that we seek good neighborly and cooperative relations with India. There are pressing tasks at hand. Foremost, to deescalate tensions and then chart an agreed trajectory for stability, peace and perhaps shared prosperity.
Prime Minister of Pakistan has reached out to Modi in the hope that a strong leader and a known hawk in New Delhi is better placed to work with than a mostly insecure coalition. This hope and accompanying assumption would be tested soon. Nonetheless, Pakistan should persist with its quest for a dignified peace with India and a harmonious coexistence.
26 May 2019