It is more than two weeks since Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed a declaration with his Pakistani counterpart Yusuf Raza Gilani aimed at rebuilding ties, but the attacks on Singh haven’t abated at home.
By agreeing to delink terrorism from the broader peace process and including a reference to the threats inside Pakistan’s troubled Baluchistan province – which Pakistan says is stoked by India – Singh is seen to have gone too far to accommodate the neighbour without getting anything in return.
If the sustained nature of the attacks from the security establishment, the Hindu nationalist opposition and the sniper firing from within Singh’s ruling Congress is any indication, he has a rocky path ahead in any engagement with Pakistan.
As Pratap Bhanu Mehta who heads the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi notes, the continuing controversy over the Sharm el-Sheikh statement poses a huge challenge for the prime minister. “He has to recognise how much at odds his strategy on Pakistan appears to be with a lot of public opinion.”
You can be sure the next time Singh meets Gilani or anyone else from the Pakistani establishment in some third nation (a trip to Islamabad is hard to comprehend on current public opinion), there will be a billion people watching him. They will scrutinise every move, every comment, and every word that he signs off on.