Indian elections no big news in Pakistan
Middle class Pakistanis have always been enamored of the scale and substance of Indian democracy. But the ongoing campaign hasn’t engaged their attention barring, of course, stock references to the plight of Muslims, Naxal violence and the shameful jooton-ki-barsaat.
The reason? The absence of peace building or Pak-bashing of the kind one saw in the 2004 polls and the elections before that to Gujarat Assembly.
The 2002 Gujarat polls had Narendra Modi exhorting people to elect the BJP for celebrations at home. If the Congress wins, he warned, there will be fireworks and distribution of sweets in Pakistan. He won at that time but is unwilling now to repeat the formula, the next halt on his agenda being Delhi.
Despite his attempts at an image makeover, Modi is viewed with suspicion, even hostility, in Pakistan. But L K Advani’s profile has changed after the “secular” Jinnah debate he triggered during his 2005 visit to Pakistan.
A Lahore-based journalist insisted the people have also forgotten the then establishment’s propaganda about Advani’s role in undermining the Agra Summit between Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Gen. Pervez Musharraf. He said Agra has faded from popular memory with Musharraf’s fall from grace: “Agar Musharraf sey mohabbat hoti to Advani villain nazar aatehy. Ab tou yahan Musharraf khud villain hai.” Another journalist felt the Advani-led Ayodhya movement that culminated in the demolition of the Babri mosque was as much forgotten history. “But we remember Gujarat.” he said.
Election reports in the print and electronic media are sporadic. From what one gathers, it’s difficult even for media persons to make a choice between Manmohan Singh and Advani, what with their comparable disappointments and expectations (from Pakistan) in the war against terror.
In relative terms, there is greater interest in the BSP’s Mayawati (Read Will India elect Mayawati its first untouchable prime minister?) Why? Pakistan has little to show in comparison when it comes to the participatory/representative character of Indian democracy that has empowered the most oppressed of communities.