Narinder Modi has been sworn in as the 15th Prime minister of India and the whole of South Asia watches with trepidation. While it is too early to predict the outcome of Modi’s policies, it is instructive to analyze two aspects of this election: The mandate that Modi secured and the reasons behind his unpopularity among Pakistanis.
Modi has been given a massive mandate in terms of seats, but has won only about 31% of the polled votes in India and more importantly, only 0% of Pakistani votes. This election has revealed that the partition of the subcontinent has reduced the Muslim population of India to a level where they cannot influence the elections anymore which was what the Quaid was afraid would happen and therefore insisted on Partition to prevent that from happening, which then happened because of the Partition initiated by the Quaid. Therefore many Pakistanis feel that the Quaid has been vindicated in dividing the Muslim electorate of the subcontinent which would have otherwise constituted 30% to 40% of the electorate. It is important to note that he was not proved right in the last two elections when Congress party won, but was proved right in this election, and only the latest elections matter in such issues.
While Pakistanis find a sliver of vindication due to Modi’s election, he is deeply unpopular among all sections of Pakistani society. The conservative section of Pakistani society has had a historical hatred and distrust of all non-taliban, non-middle eastern personalities implicated in mass murder of Muslims. The nationalistic section of Pakistani society has never forgiven Muslim genocide by South Asians in places outside Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Jordan. The liberal and progressive section of Pakistani society strongly believes that countries should graduate from riots to aerial bombardment using F16s to kill its own citizens. To add to that Pakistani society generally disapproves of nationalism rooted in religion in countries other than Pakistan. (Exception to that is Middle eastern countries. Exception to the exception is Israel.)
Pakistan is now faced with the grave challenge of dealing with an extremist government in her neighbourhood that Pakistan has not secretly funded and trained. Pakistanis concerned about multiculturalism, development and freedom in other places outside Pakistan are rightly concerned that Modi’s prime ministership might cause Polio to run rampant in Muslim majority areas, Muslim schoolgirls and Muslim journalists to be shot and vilified and Muslim owned news channels to be censored under the pretext of blasphemy and made to write silly apology letters.
South Asia is headed into dark and dangerous days indeed.