Dawn is arguably Pakistan’s most sensible newspaper, so I was dismayed when they wrote this editorial about upcoming elections in Gujarat. An excerpt:
THE Indian state of Gujarat is back in the international news. Five years ago in 2002 Gujarat had received a lot of media publicity — of course of a negative kind — for a horrific carnage which saw over 2,000 Muslims brutally murdered. The same party, the BJP, which was then in the government has once again swept the state polls much to the horror of many who stand for secularism, non-violence and inter-communal harmony. Whatever implications this may have for Indian politics, the BJP’s win is certainly disturbing. With the general elections in India due in 2009 — they could be held sooner if the Congress-Left coalition at the centre fails to hold — Mr Narendra Modi, Gujarat’s BJP chief, could make a leadership bid in Delhi. That would certainly have a profound impact on India’s foreign policy, especially when Mr Modi’s brand of politics and ideology is not of the same kind as that of Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee who had led the BJP to power in New Delhi for the first time.This is utter nonsense. Dawn is implying that if Modi somehow becomes prime minister (which is a big question mark, at the moment) India will descend into a communal hell, ending with the wholesale slaughter of Muslins and other non-minorities (genocide, I think they call it). Yet Congress-led government have less than a stellar record in communal harmony, including the mass killings of Sikhs after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. Of course, not even the Indian media would dredge this up so I don’t expect much from the Pakistani media.
At the same time, it was Vajpayee who sued for peace with Pakistan (visiting Lahore), while its armies were occupying Kargil. It was Vajpayee who invited Musharraf to Agra for a summit. All the while, the media was branding Vajpayee as a chauvinist, bigot and communalist.