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Mixed response to Modi’s victory in Pakistan
Afzal Khan in Islamabad

The BJP’s landslide victory in the Indian elections under the leadership of Narendra Modi has been received with a mixed feeling of apprehensions and optimism in Pakistan.

Most analysts and leading newspapers in editorial comments have noted that the elections, while signaling an emphatic rightward shift, have thrown up a hardliner leader with explicitly communal background dedicated to an agenda for economic empowerment and regeneration. Though Modi spoke little about foreign policy, given the campaign rhetoric by BJP leaders, some believe that he will adopt an aggressive policy on bilateral and regional issues.

Many analysts are of the view that the BJP cannot afford taking India’s relations to a point of no return with Pakistan because such a policy will undermine its own economic reform agenda.

“His (Modi) election could work either way,” commented defence analyst Lt General Talat Masood, adding: “Given the landslide victory and people’s support, he (Modi) is one leader who can bring real change in ties with Pakistan if he is genuine in pursuing the peace process.”

Officially, the government had all along maintained that it is willing to engage constructively with whosoever is elected by the people of India. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was among first world leaders to call Modi to felicitate him on what he described as “impress victory” and also invited him to visit Pakistan.

The Foreign Office said the PM congratulated Modi and offered him good wishes. During the brief conversation, Modi underscored his desire to fight poverty that has been plaguing not just India but the entire region.

Modi has been elected at a time when civil military relations in Pakistan are rickety, meaning, according to daily Dawn, that Sharif may not immediately seek rapprochement with India. In India, Modi may try to assert his strongman credentials first to establish the perception of authority. “However, if the optics and posturing are understood by both the sides, there is the possibility for much genuine work towards normalisation of ties to be done.” The Express Tribune while describing Modi as a “boisterous, confrontational and charismatic leader” said his victory has been emphatic, resounding and absolute.





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