PAKISTAN: THE WILD CARDWhat about interactions with other key countries? The relationship with Pakistan is perhaps the biggest wild card. It is not known whether Modi will essentially take the line that India needs stability in its neighborhood to ensure economic growth and development, which is the primary and perhaps sole objective for which he will have a clear public mandate. Such an assessment could mean Modi would reach out to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and take confidence-building measures further, especially in the economic realm. There are some who think he’ll go further—in the Nixon-going-to-China vein. They point to the precedent of the last BJP Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee reaching out to the Pakistani leadership. However, it is important to keep in mind that that initiative materialized only after the Indian nuclear tests had proved that BJP-led coalition government’s security credentials. Furthermore, the fact that the Kargil conflict between the two countries erupted just a few months after Vajpayee traveled to Lahore has not been [url removed, login to view]’s a possibility that Modi will take a more hawkish line instead. This is especially likely if, in the first six months or so of his government, there is a major terrorist attack in India or on Indians abroad that can be traced to elements in Pakistan. This is not a far-fetched scenario—terrorist groups might see the period of political transition as an opportunity to derail any chance for peace. And in the event of such an attack it is unlikely that any Indian government will sit back and do nothing or essentially act in a post-Mumbai-like manner—especially if there is little cooperation from the Pakistani government.