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Overcoming South Asia’s Peace Spoilers

MONTREAL – Long-anticipated peace negotiations between India and Pakistan appear to have been delayed until after India’s May parliamentary elections, and the prospects for subsequent talks are not clear. Victory for Narendra Modi’s nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a resurgent Taliban in the wake of the United States’ impending troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, and Pakistan’s continuing failure to negotiate with or suppress the Pakistani Taliban, point to a period of intense uncertainty and potential conflict. But this is no reason to give up trying for peace.

True, Modi’s peacemaking credentials are already highly questionable, both at home and in Pakistan. He was Gujarat’s chief minister in 2002 when riots killed more than a thousand Muslims. Many fear that, as Prime Minister, he would polarize the entire country along communal lines. And, thus far, he has taken an uncompromising position on Pakistan, and will probably continue to talk tough, at least for the time being.