New York, May 20 (ANI): Given the overwhelming mandate received in the 2009 general elections, the Indian National Congress-led coalition government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will now have to exercise the kind of regional and global leadership that is expected of a rising power, says a New York Times editorial.
According to the NYT, New Delhi can start off with Pakistan, arguably the most dangerous country on earth.
A key challenge would be to convince and maybe prevent Islamabad from expanding its nuclear stockpile. Washington is already legitimately asking whether billions of dollars in proposed new assistance might be diverted to Pakistan's nuclear program. Both countries, therefore, should demand assurances from Islamabad that it will not be.
Tensions between the two South Asian neighbours remains high, as the Pakistani Army continues to view India as its main adversary. India, therefore, should take the lead in initiating arms control talks with Pakistan and China.
According to the NYT, it should also declare its intention to stop producing nuclear weapons fuel, even before a proposed multinational treaty is negotiated. That would provide leverage for Washington and others to exhort Pakistan to do the same.
Tensions with Pakistan over Kashmir, a festering sore of over six decades standing, is another challenge that New Delhi would have to address directly.
Stephen P. Cohen, a South Asia expert at the Brookings Institution, suggests - broader regional talks on environmental and water issues might be an interim way to find common ground. Ignoring Kashmir is no longer an option, he adds.
A third challenge is Afghanistan. India has played a constructive role in helping rebuild Afghanistan, but it must take steps to allay Islamabad's concerns that this is not a plan to encircle Pakistan.
It should foster regional trade with Pakistan and Afghanistan. More broadly, India must help to revive world trade talks by opening its markets. It could use its considerable trade clout with Iran, Sudan and Myanmar to curb Tehran's nuclear program, end the genocide in Darfur and press Myanmar's junta to expand human rights.
India is the dominant power in South Asia, but it has been hesitant to assume its responsibilities. The Congress Party has to do better - starting with Pakistan, the editorial in the paper concludes. (ANI)