Indian optimism and Imran Khan

  • Discussions on all issues, including Kashmir 

Perhaps Indian PM Modi invoking former PM, now sadly deceased, “Atal ji’s” (Vajpayee) Jammu and Kashmir policy of Insaniyat, Jamhooriyat, Kashmiriyat is, really, part of a trend that reflects not just a departure from BJP’s long held extremist line but also a different approach, going forward, towards Pakistan. Or maybe it’s just a tactic meant to gather votes ahead of next year’s big election and the panchayat election due in Kashmir itself. Yet it if appearances are anything to go by it seems Modi has taken Imran’s promise, made in his only post-election speech so far, quite seriously.

If you take one step towards us, we’ll take two, Imran promised India. Then Modi called Imran to congratulate as well as signal a desire for a fresh start – not a small thing so close to the election, not the least because it stands BJP’s core policy on its head. And then the Indian envoy in Pakistan felicitated Imran at Banigala, and talked about the ‘wave of optimism in India’ since PTI’s victory here. Imran, of course, went straight to resurrecting the dialogue, including Kashmir, besides beginning to breathe some sort of life into SAARC.

And then came Modi’s policy about turn in Kashmir. If, despite the pellet guns and brutal crackdowns, appearances can once again be trusted and this is India’s one step forward, shouldn’t Imran consider honouring his promise? And – to once again remember Atal ji just as he has passed away – didn’t that old stalwart of the extreme right of Hindu politics, who upset the regional balance with his nuclear tests, also try to break the ice and restart the peace process? Imran is right, just like many before him, about settling all differences and disputes and moving forward. But nobody has yet been able to walk that talk. If Imran can finally make the difference between words and actions, and get the Indians to do the same, he would help create not just a Naya Pakistan.