India’s new prime minister, Narendra Modi, who won a landslide victory earlier this month on the back of a promise to swiftly transform India, raised expectations all over the subcontinent after pulling off a considerable diplomatic coup when the heads of several South Asian states attended his swearing-in ceremony.
No visitor stood out so starkly at Monday’s ceremony as Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and not just for his suit. Sharif defied hard-liners in his country to accept the new Indian government’s invitation. It signaled the possibility of renewed dialogue over cross-border terrorism, the Kashmir dispute and trade between the two countries -- indeed, over the future and the past of the subcontinent, which has been held hostage since 1947 to the rancor and suspicion generated by colonial India’s partition along religious lines into two, then three, states. (East Pakistan became Bangladesh in 1971.)