military rule. In India, the Nehru-Gandhi family made policy with a free hand but the Bhuttos in Pakistan have had the added burden of dealing with the machinations of the military-intelligence complex.
The politics of family legacy is often intertwined with ideology. For example, for many, the Nehru-Gandhi family represents India’s secularism and in Pakistan, the Bhuttos are identified with relative pluralism in an otherwise hardline Islamist ideological environment. But the depth of loyalty to a legacy lasts only as long as the memory of the legacy. With each passing generation, India’s memory of its freedom struggle is less sharp. Sentiments of loyalty over past sacrifices, too, cannot last forever.
As has been said by virtually every pundit and columnist over the last few days, India is now swept by the desire for progress and change. Ideology may still be important but performance and results matter more to more and more people.
The dominant sentiment in India’s latest election was embracing aspiration and modernity while rejecting ideology and legacy.The spectre of a communalist Modi did not scare voters because the Modi associated with the Gujarat riots of 2002 did not show up during the election campaign. The Modi people voted for espoused a vision for bullet trains, efficient government, economic opportunity and modernity.
The people are often willing to accept that leaders can change their view. After all, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the Quaid-e-Azam of Pakistan, had gone from being an ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity in the 1920s to being the principal advocate of the two-nation theory and Muslim separatism. It was sad as well as comical to see globally recognised terrorist Hafiz Saeed appear on Pakistani television to describe Modi’s election as prime minister as affirmation of the two-nation theory.
India appears to have moved beyond ideology as the core emotion of its politics.
One does not need to wait to see the Modi government’s performance at home to say that Pakistan needs to move beyond ideology and towards functional modernity as well.