Advanis vision

Updated: Jan 25 2002, 05:30am hrs
Home Minister Lal Krishna Advani is a level-headed political leader who does not mince his words. Hence when he puts on the thinking cap and gives expression to his vision for the future, those in India and abroad sit up and take notice. Even while he is on the wings of imagination, he remains rooted in the present. Hence, there is no inherent contradiction when he says, Partition was a tragedy. At the same time, Partition is also a reality. This is confirmation that the BJP, which had not accepted Partition in its formative periods, has finally reconciled itself to the division of the country. However, Advani is not merely rhetorical when he asks whether the ruling establishment in Pakistan has accepted the reality of a secular, democratic and united India. It is indeed doubtful as such an acceptance will negate the very idea of Pakistan. Small wonder that in the Pakistani discourse, the fact that India has the second largest Muslim population is overlooked.

General Pervez Musharrafs recent speech was an attempt at course correction. His subsequent decision to do away with the system of separate electorate for the minorities and references to Jinnahs promise that there would be no discrimination on the basis of religion was an admission that the redemption of Pakistan lies in secularism. But for him to admit that the two-nation theory on which Pakistan was founded was wrong would have been tantamount to committing harakiri. Is there scope for joining of hands by India and Pakistan Advani believes that it is not out of place to mention my hope and desire to see the coming together of India and Pakistan in some type of confederal framework in the years to come. He is tempted by the unification of Germany, the signs of reconciliation between the two Koreas and the European economic union. But such ideas have been a red herring for the Pakistanis, fed as they are on a strict diet of anti-Indianism. The Pakistanis must also feel that such unity is in their interest.

It is true that democracy and secularism are our strong points, though there are forces at work trying to undermine these very characteristics of the nation. On most of the indices of life, India is only a shade better than Pakistan. Poverty, illiteracy and the high rate of corruption do not engage adequate attention of the government. India has to go a long way before it can promote the idea of a confederation, which will carry greater weight if the good governance Advani promises results in capturing the 21st century for itself. Till then, as he puts it, the two can remain separate and sovereign nations voluntarily expanding their areas of cooperation.

This editorial from The Indian Express has been edited for space