Pakistanis wary of India relations with Modi as PM

By Aamir Latif, Tuesday, May 20, 2014

If Modi follows up on campaign rhetoric, India-Pakistan relationship will see no improvement

If Modi follows up on campaign rhetoric, India-Pakistan relationship will see no improvement

ISLAMABAD - After it was announced Friday that Narendra Modi was to be India's next prime minister, his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif was the first world leader to invite Modi to visit. In Pakistan however, those welcoming words are not seen as a signal that strained relations with India will see any future improvement.

Modi's campaigning as the figurehead of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party was noted for anti-Pakistan rhetoric, including hints that he would forcibly extract India's most wanted fugitive Dawood Ibrahim, who is accused of involvement in 1993 Mumbai bombings, despite Pakistan's denial of Ibrahim's presence in the country.

"I foresee a hard line [towards Pakistan] from the new Indian prime minister on various issues, keeping his and his party's track record in view," said Najam Sethi, an Islamabad-based senior political and security analyst. "There will be a hard line on Kashmir. There will be a hard line on the Mumbai attacks. And there will be hard line on the Line of Control [in Kashmir]."

The two nuclear rivals have fought two full-fledged wars, in 1948 and 1965, and the three-week long Kargil skirmish in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir. Sethi has observed a sudden surge in the last two weeks of fire being exchanged across the military lines that divide India- and Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Some Pakistani politicians also appear wary of future relations with India after Modi is sworn in.

"I congratulate Mr Modi on his and his party's victory. But as far as relations between the two countries are concerned, it will depend upon his policies," former prime minister Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain told reporters. "I cannot predict the nature of future relations between the two countries at the moment."

Raj Kumar, a human rights activist from southern port city Karachi sees a difference between election speeches, and running the government. "This is not for the first time when BJP is coming into power. In my opinion, this party will be in a better position to improve ties with Pakistan, and resolve the lingering disputes, including Kashmir," Kumar, who is a local Hindu community leader, told the Anadolu Agency. 

"Right-wing parties have lesser pressures to face compared to left-wing parties in Pakistan and India. Both countries have right-wing governments now. They have a golden opportunity to move forward."

Muhammad Mursaleen, a sales agent from Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, is more worried about a hardline approach from Modi and accusations that the former Gujarat chief minister failed to stop inter-communal riots in 2002. 

"How can you expect leverage from a person who has won his elections on an anti-Pakistan stance? His role in 2002 anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat is good enough to figure out his approach towards Indian Muslims and Pakistan," Mursaleen told the AA. 

Mursaleen does not place much significance on the welcoming messages Pakistan's government has sent to Modi. 

"These are customary statements that we have been hearing for last 66 years. They have nothing to do with the ground realities."

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