“Reason and judgment are the qualities of a leader.”                   - Tacitus

The writing is on the wall. The UPA coalition government in India is in no position to negotiate on any issue with the Pakistani government and therefore the meeting was just a photo opportunity that was utilized by both Dr Manmohan Singh and Mian Nawaz Sharif. Nothing of substance came out of the meeting between the two Prime Ministers that was held in New York. There has been a frenzied demand by the Indian media and the BJP demanding the Indian Prime Minister to cancel his meeting with the Pakistani Prime Minister due to the issue of terrorism and tensions on the line of control.

At the eleventh hour Indian foreign Minister, Mr Salman Khurshid who is otherwise a moderate personality tried to throw a spanner by trying to create a wedge between the Pakistani armed forces and the democratically elected government in this country. Dr Manmohan Singh who is under pressure from all sides knew that the photo opportunity with Mian Nawaz Sharif could be sold to a section of the Indian population who desire peaceful relations with this country. To deflect the criticism of the BJP the Indian Prime Minister leveled baseless allegations against Pakistan in his speech at the United Nations. Responding to these allegations, Mian Nawaz Sharif tried to lay out facts regarding the role of the Indian intelligence agencies in various acts of terrorism, sabotage and subversion in this country. Both the Prime Ministers played to their domestic galleries by trying to create a façade in the minds of the people that peace and progress could indeed be achieved by engaging one another in meaningful dialogue. There are signs that the next elections may be won by the BJP and its allies and that a third party alliance could emerge as a major player in the Indian political scene after the elections of 2014 scheduled to be held in India. The reason for the surge of the BJP has been due to the fact that several congress ministers and some of their allies remained mired in mega corruption scams alienating public support from them. The congress may be trying hard to entice the Indian voters back into their fold by introduction of various public welfare projects like the food security bill and the introduction of a highly controversial ordinance that would negate the guideline of the Indian Supreme Court and protect tainted leaders amongst the Indian political leadership of all shades.

The BJP on its part was playing the communal card very effectively and was being supported by the Hindu extremist parties like RSS and Shiv Sehna who have once again drummed up the issue of Babri mosque and Ram mandir to play with the emotions of the Hindu majority of that country. The BJP has during its election rallies launched virulent attacks against Pakistan whipping up hysteria with the support of several media outlets in India who regularly receive funds from Indian intelligence agencies and therefore tow their line as and when required by the Indian establishment. While the meeting that was insisted by the Pakistani side could have helped the Congress party to win support during the coming election, their chances of re-election to the corridors of power are very slim and the chances of Mr Narendra Modi, a fanatic Hindu who supervised the massacre of Muslims in Gujrat being its Chief Minister could emerge as the front runner for the job of Indian Prime Minister. While it would be prudent for the Pakistani government to engage the BJP in constructive dialogue, ignoring the election rhetoric of that party. It would then become easier for the government of Pakistan to do business with the next government in India. However, if a weak coalition government emerges in our neighbouring country, it will become very difficult for both the countries to achieve any meaningful progress especially on contentious issues that remain unresolved between India and Pakistan.

The American government could have played a role by nudging India to the negotiating table with a clear cut agenda so that this troubled region could hope for peace. One hopes that the issues raised by both the Prime Minister during their meeting in New York would receive the attention they deserve by the two respective governments and that once the Indian general elections are over, a peace process with honesty of purpose could begin so that the everyday lives of the common people in both India and Pakistan could improve. While Pakistan has initiated several confidence building measures designed to support the peace process, the Indian government has due to their domestic political compulsions and their traditional hypocrisy failed to make any sincere effort that could bring peace and prosperity in an entire region.

The writer has been associated with various newspapers as editor and columnist.