Narendra Modi was sworn in on Monday as the 15th Prime Minister of India, an event watched by heads of government from all of South Asia including from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Maldives, Nepal, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh.
The most surprising appearance was made by Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the head of a nation that has been at war with India twice since both nations declared freedom from Britain in 1947.
Between wars, tension has filled the air between the nations as relations have remained icy, especially since the Pakistan attack in Mumbai in 2008 in which militants killed 166 people.
That will drive a wedge.
However, some say that Nawaz Sharif’s appearance could signal the desperately needed new beginning of a good relationship between India and Pakistan. In fact, in an interview with NDTV news channel, Sharif stated that his visit was “a chance to reach out to each other” and “a great opportunity”.
He added, “Both governments have a strong mandate. This could help in turning a new page in our relations.”
In an editorial in the Indian Express, the writer said Modi’s “terrific” move to invite regional leaders “should help generate a more realistic appreciation of India’s foreign-policy trajectory in the coming years.”
“What matters in the end, however, is the prospect of a more self-assured government in Delhi that is ready to engage the neighbors without standing on protocol and precedent,” the writer added.
Shortly after the swearing in on the beautiful and elaborate grounds of the presidential mansion in New Delhi., Modi took to the internet and posted a message on his official website saying that with the Indian people, along with the rest of the world, his government would work to “script a glorious future for India.”
“Let us together dream of a strong, developed and inclusive India that actively engages with the global community to strengthen the cause of world peace and development,” he added.
Could this gesture made by Modi be one that begins to change the relationship between the nuclear-loaded neighbors for the better. I think we could all breath a little easier if it did. This will be one fascinating situation to watch.
Image Via Wikimedia Commons