By Jawed Naqvi
A potentially sinister event has prompted this column. It is my sense from a few visits to Pakistan beginning with 1997 that a large number of Pakistanis prefer the rightwing religious revivalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to rule India. On the other hand, they are wary of the Congress. This tendency, I gather, is more pronounced within the Pakistani bureaucracy and the military. I know of Pakistani diplomats and officials who would be privately praying for the BJP to win the April-May elections in India.
To some extent this is true also of some of the journalists I have interacted with from different parts of Pakistan. They include those that claim to work for peace and dialogue between the two countries. The BJP has sold them the myth that it can alone solve the Kashmir dispute, not the Congress or anyone else.
There is a counter grouse among Pakistanis. Many of them feel, and they are probably spot on, that the bulk of the Indian establishment, including that media which works with the establishment, has a subcutaneous liking for the military in preference to civilian governments in Islamabad, and, in recent days, for General Pervez Musharraf in particular. This was reflected in some ways in the standing ovation the former army chief received recently at the end of a televised interaction he had with the movers and shakers of Delhi. And who was the one person Musharraf wanted to meet in Delhi but couldn’t? It was none other than his favourite BJP leader Atal Behari Vajpayee.