A leading Pakistani daily has asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to end his Pakistan-bashing following his party’s victory in the recent state elections. In an editorial, The Dawn said that Modi now has an opportunity to “pivot and put behind him the recent anti-Pakistan acrimony”. It noted that Modi and his “ultra-nationalist” party resorted to familiar Pakistan-bashing in the run-up to the elections.
“That must stop. Time and again, when faced with tough electoral battles, Mr Modi and his allies have sought an edge by deploying harsh rhetoric against Pakistan.” The daily noted that Modi suggested that Pakistan was responsible for a train crash in Uttar Pradesh. “It may just be a domestic campaign tactic, but it causes ripples across the border and further complicates the bilateral relationship.’’ But the daily noted that the two countries have an opportunity in months ahead that may not appear again for several years with the resounding electoral victory.
The Dawn referred to Pakistan’s renewed commitment to combating terrorism and extremism and said that the extension of anti-terror “Radd-ul-Fasaad” operation to Punjab province takes the country one step closer to fulfilling that pledge. “Moreover, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his government have consistently offered talks without preconditions to India. Most recently, during his visit to Turkey last month, Sharif once again emphasised that Pakistan wants good neighbourly relations with India.’’
Chinese daily Global Times carried an op-ed article in the same vein, asking China to be “optimistic in resolving our divergences, including border disputes, with New Delhi during Modi’s term”. It noted that that India’s “current firm and tough manner” is bound to continue following BJP’s victory. “It (the recent election results) has not only increased Modi’s chance to win in India’s 2019 general elections, some even predict he is already set for a second term,’’ the article in the Communist Party of China-run paper said. “Since Beijing-New Delhi ties have recently entered a subtle and delicate phase, observers soon started to pay close attention to how the bilateral relationship will develop after Modi tightens his grip on power.”
The article noted that Modi’s latest triumph also stems from his firm stance on development as well as efforts to carry out economic reform and attract foreign investment. It said that Modi’s hard-line attitude is embodied in his domestic policies, such as the ban on high-value currency notes, and diplomatic logic. “In the international arena, he changed India’s previous attitude of trying never to offend anyone and started to take a clear stance in controversies among other nations to maximise its own interests,’’ it said. “He enhanced New Delhi’s ties with China and Moscow and applied to be a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.’’ The article added that Modi has also upgraded defence collaboration with the US and Japan. It added that he has articulated his support for the US rebalance to the Asia-Pacific strategy and Washington’s stance on the South China Sea issue.
In a commentary in Foreign Affairs, analyst Milan Vaishnav has cautioned that Modi’s strategy of modelling the BJP on the lines of Indira Gandhi is fraught with risk.