India's new leadership has eyes of the world
Congratulations to the incoming Indian government and respect to the old one led by outgoing Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.
As a result of a shock defeat of his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to Italian-born Sonia Gandhi's Congress Party in the Indian lower parliament, Vajpayee resigned on Thursday. And Gandhi's party, the oldest in India, will soon assume power.
The event is worthy of worldwide attention, given that the forthcoming change of power in the world's second largest developing country is significant not only to the country itself but also to neighbouring nations and the world at large.
The outgoing Vajpayee government has shown its determination and sincerity with regard to reconciliation with Pakistan and building a constructive and mutually-trusting relationship with China. Its politicians also showed an undisguised resolve on many occasions to pursue more powerful status for the country.
For this, the outgoing Vajpayee government undoubtedly wins respect. It is their own choice for a country's people to decide which party or politician will lead them. What is hoped is that the new regime will not indiscriminately negate or discard its predecessor's effective policies.
It is a great encouragement not only to India but also to the whole world that Sonia Gandhi, widow of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi who was assassinated in 1991, has expressed a desire to carry forward Vajpayee's peace initiative with Pakistan, a generation-long foe against whom India has fought three wars since gaining independence from Britain in 1947.
Sonia Gandhi, the likely next prime minister, vowed at a news conference in New Delhi on Thursday night that Vajpayee's peace efforts would be continued "absolutely."
How India and Pakistan, two nuclear-armed neighbours, deal with each other - through peaceful or military means - bears great significance to regional peace and stability and even to that of the world as a whole.
After the release of the Indian election result, Pakistan also said it hopes the two countries will continue their conciliatory steps.
"For us, the most important thing is that the process for peace should continue," Pakistani Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said.
Since Vajpayee's peace-seeking speech in April 2003 for fresh dialogue with Pakistan, the two old adversaries have been engaged in high-level talks.
The conciliatory process, a win-win situation, has extricated precious resources for the two countries from hair-trigger military confrontation to much-needed economic construction.
China, neighbour and friend to both India and Pakistan, has consistently supported the two countries' peace efforts and has made its due contribution to achieving that goal.
It is China's expectation that reformation of the Indian power configuration will not adversely affect the peace process.
It is also China's earnest hope that the incoming Indian government will carry on and consolidate its predecessor's policy of developing friendly relations with China given that the policy has significantly benefited both.
Sino-Indian relations have progressed steadily in recent years. A good-neighbourly relationship between the two most-populous countries on the planet is in the interests of the two peoples and will no doubt contribute to regional peace and stability.