An India-Pakistan accord may be in the offing
By Khalid Hasan
WASHINGTON: An American commentator sees BJP leader LK Advani’s change in approach towards Pakistan as indicative of an India-Pakistan agreement that may be in the offing.
John Nemec, a University of Virginia professor who is currently doing a South Asia-related assignment at Brookings Institution, a local think tank, has called on American policymakers to welcome the change in Advani’s stance towards Pakistan, since it “suggests that an India-Pakistan agreement may be closer than previously suspected.” Such an agreement, according to him, would benefit US interests not only because it would diminish the likelihood of a potential nuclear conflict in the region, but because it would also foster a regional security environment more conducive to America’s growing relationships with India and Pakistan.
In an analytical piece published in the Christian Science Monitor on Thursday, Nemec writes that the “impossible occurred last month in South Asia. A conservative Indian nationalist leader praised the founder of Pakistan.” He argues that as a “key architect and proponent of Hindu nationalist policy in India, Mr Advani has the credentials necessary to shift the BJP’s hard-line approach and nudge India toward rapprochement with Pakistan. However, to move in this direction, he has had to directly confront India’s most anti- Pakistani Hindu nationalists, miring himself and his countrymen in a high-stakes dispute that impinges on the core ideology of Hindu nationalism.”
Nemec believes that Advani was motivated by politics, or a desire to soften his hard-line image in India. Advani’s praise of Jinnah, Pakistan’s founder, appears to be an attempt to change the public perception that Advani is a hard-line hawk on Pakistan. He has presented himself as a statesman who can think rationally and independently about matters of central concern to the ideology of the Sangh Parivar.
This is significant, given that he advocated hard-line positions on India-Pakistan relations in public speeches as recently as last year.”