The Raj thinking revived?
In its leader on the Manmohan Singh’s ascent to prime-ministership The Economist makes two glaring faux pas. That Pakistan must be given a few concessions for the peace process to continue, and that Manmohan Singh’s non-Hinduness will somehow make him more amenable to making peace with Pakistan. Coming from a magazine as knowledgeable and insightful as The Economist these views are surprisingly naive.
…there is reason to fear that another casualty of the election may well be the welcome détente with Pakistan that Mr Vajpayee engineered. If it is to last beyond August, when the two countries’ foreign ministers are to meet, and when the status of Kashmir will need to be discussed, Pakistan needs to be given a few concessions. But if hard-liners are ascendant in the BJP it may be difficult for a minority Congress government to grant them. On the other hand, Mr Singh is a Sikh, and Sikhs occupy a special position in the subcontinent, because their religion draws on both Islam and Hinduism. That might just qualify him to make a historic breakthrough [The Economist]
Whether Pakistan needs to be given any concessions depends on what concessions it is willing to make. There is no case for India to make unilateral concessions even as the myth of Pakistan dismantling its terrorist infrastructure is exposed.
The Economist seems to think that the India-Pakistan issue is an Hindu vs Muslim problem. That view is as oversimplified as it is incorrect. Both I K Gujral and Atal Bihari Vajpayee were Hindus. Yet these gentlemen went out of their way to make peace with Pakistan. The desire for peaceful relations with Pakistan cuts across religions and parties, as shown by new government’s commitment to continue the dialogue with Pakistan. But it is an insult to the Sikh community in general and Dr Manmohan Singh in particular to suggest that his religion will somehow cause him give away India’s family silver.