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In Pakistan, Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar says BJP could have 'another 5 years' in power (WATCH)

Veteran Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar, speaking at the Faiz Festival in Lahore, expressed concern over the rise of Hindutva ideology in India, suggesting it mirrors Pakistan's model of an Islamic republic.

In Pakistan, Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar says BJP could have 'another 5 years' in power
First Published Feb 12, 2024, 12:23 PM IST

Congress party leaders seem to have already conceded defeat to the Bharatiya Janata Party even before the campaigning for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections shifted to first gear. At least, veteran Congress leader and former Union Minister, Mani Shankar Aiyar reportedly seems to believe that the BJP is heading for another five-year term.

Speaking at a session titled 'Hijr Ki Rakh, Visaal Kay Phool, Indo-Pak affairs', on the second day of the Faiz Festival at Alhamra, Lahore, Aiyar asserted that under the Hindutva ideology, there is a trend towards emulating Pakistan's model of an Islamic republic. 

"In India, there is an attempt being made in the name of Hindutva to produce a Hindu Rashtra, and in doing this they are trying to imitate Pakistan, which became an Islamic Republic. The Nehru-Gandhi answer to the Islamic Republic was to say that we would not become a republic based on a religion; we would become a republic based on all religions. But their philosophy that lasted for 65 years was overthrown in 2014. And we are now in a situation where it seems that for the next five years, we are going to have the same mindset sitting in Delhi as has been sitting there for the last 10 years." 

Aiyar also emphasized the importance of civil society dialogue between India and Pakistan, suggesting that such interactions should persist until governmental barriers are overcome. He acknowledged the challenges posed by visa issues and proposed that businessmen, students, and academics continue to meet outside the formal frameworks of India and Pakistan, thus bypassing governmental restrictions.

Aiyar, no stranger to contentious statements, lauded the Pakistani populace as the 'biggest asset of India', as reported by Dawn, a prominent Pakistani daily.

Aiyar shared anecdotes of his time as consul general in Karachi, expressing fondness for the warmth and hospitality he and his wife received during their stay. He spoke fondly of the warmth and hospitality extended to him and his wife by the Pakistani populace. These experiences, he noted, were chronicled in his book, "Memoirs of a Maverick," which presented a nuanced portrayal of Pakistan, distinct from the prevailing perceptions among many Indians.

In his address, Aiyar underscored the significance of fostering goodwill between India and Pakistan, lamenting the dearth of constructive dialogue in recent years, particularly during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's tenure. He emphasized the critical importance of engagement between the two nations, stressing that such interactions were essential for building trust and understanding.

Aiyar's remarks advocating for sustained civil society dialogue despite governmental barriers resonated with many attendees. He argued that while official channels of communication may encounter obstacles, grassroots efforts to promote understanding and cooperation should persist unabated.

However, Aiyar's perspective diverged sharply from India's official stance on Pakistan, which places a significant emphasis on security concerns, particularly in light of persistent cross-border terrorism. 

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