'BJP being in power is better for both countries'
Norma Godinho, who was part of the Press Club of Mumbai delegation that recently visited Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi, assesses what Pakistanis have to say about the prospect of Gujarat strongman emerging as prime minister of India after the 2014 general elections
The 2014 general election is set to be one of the most interesting contests ever with the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party already trying their best to woo voters.
Many believe that the 2014 mandate will be crucial for the future of South Asia. The election campaign is being closely followed by election observers within the country and outside.
And also in Pakistan.
The overriding sentiment among Pakistan’s elite is that the BJP being in power is better for both countries.
One of the first voices to take this stand was Pakistani industrialist Amin Hashwani.
“Politically, there was a thaw in relations when the BJP was in power under Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Also trade was better and policies were pro-Pakistan then. Having the BJP at the helm in India could be better for South Asian economics. Since we see Narendra Modi as pro-development we are hoping that it will help business across both borders,” said Hashwani of the Hashoo group.
With the value of Indo-Pak trade at just $2.5 billion, focusing on trade relations seems to top the list of expectations.
"The Congress has been cold in its approach towards business. If the BJP comes into power, they may take decisions that could give trade an impetus," said M Y Siddik, chairman of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association.
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Image: BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi
'If hardliners like Modi come to power, they are in a better position to negotiate for peace'
Other than the business class, the BJP also has some backing from Pakistan’s media as well as its political class.
Aamir Zia, editor of The News, says, “If hardliners like Modi come to power in India they are in a better position to negotiate for peace. Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was known as a right-wing man, but he brought diplomatic relations to the fore. We think the BJP will reciprocate Sharif’s peace talks.”
Another voice supporting Modi is Muttahida Qaumi Movement's National Assembly member Kiswer Zehra who says that the ‘Vajpayee-Musharraf reign had brought peace to the area’ and they believe that ‘it will be the same if Modi comes in to power’.
“Under the Congress there have been no progressive talks on peace. The BJP may take off from Vajpayee and put focus back on peace.”
However, Herald magazine Editor Muhammad Badar Alam had a different take on the issue.
“Modi coming to power will be a setback to the SAARC spirit because we know what extremists can do. We don’t know if Modi will be as good as Vajpayee. We would like a secular party to come into power. But whoever comes into power in Delhi should know how to carry forward the peace initiative. They need to sustain relations on peace, this hostility needs to end. We would like a secular party be brought into power.”
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