|Friday, January 7, 2000,
firm, reasonable reply
a ruinous path
GAPS IN CRISIS MANAGEMENT
is still alive!
of insurance reforms
two-faced foreign policy
A firm, reasonable reply
DEFENCE Minister George Fernandes spoke with frankness, common sense and national resoluteness on the Pakistani military rulers second threat three days ago that he could wage a nuclear war against India. He depended on two basic principles. The real test of power is not the capacity to make war but sufficient wisdom and action to prevent it. Military man Pervez Musharraf should know it better than the civilian Minister of India that nuclear weapons have not made wars obsolete; they have, in fact, added a new and more dangerous dimension to warfare. India is better equipped to fight any form of war thrust upon it today. Its military power springs from its democratic structure. The vastness of its territory or its population is not to be viewed negatively. Territorial and logistic advantages, along with manpower, are necessary to utilise fire power effectively as also to sustain it. There are no warlike peoples; there are just warlike leaders, says Ralph Bunche. General Musharraf treats the nuclear button like a toy gifted to a child and it has been an unmitigated tragedy for Pakistan (vis-a-vis India) that even after losing all its wars of various scales launched against this country (the latest was the viciously planned misadventure in the Kargil region), it has not realised that it is naive not to accept the proposition that the tale of a nuclear war would tell much more than the story of an ape playing with a box of matchsticks on a petrol dump.
As General Musharraf is
ready to create many more Kargils (as in Kandahar or
within the cities of Srinagar and Jammu), the Indian
nation, containing a great amount of lava and brimstone
in its innately peaceful psyche, is prepared to meet any
threat of war clandestine, conventional or
nuclear. Logically, all future wars with Pakistan will
have to be non-nuclear and conventional. Any
Musharrafised nuclear onslaught will be either contained
or replied to by India with a great, swift and more than
equally disastrous action. India does not think in terms
of a nuclear conflict; Pakistan does so. Mr Fernandes has
done well to make this fact clear. If India can
beat Pakistani forces equipped with modern fire power and
after dominating heights at a time of Pakistans
choice with the initiative also in its hand, then India
can beat Pakistan anytime, anywhere. He has
cautioned the strongman that intimidating rhetoric can
fool some of his people, including soldiers and ISI men,
only for some time. The Pakistanis, collectively, are the
flesh of our flesh. We cannot think of exercising the
first-strike nuclear option against them. The world is
assessing the post-Kandahar situation and the
consequences of the Islamabad-Kabul nexus. When colonial
and business interests will be superseded by the
overwhelming benefits of tranquillity, even the large
nuclear umbrellas will be folded up and kept in a corner.
Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilisation.
And it is civilisation that Mr Fernandes has thought of,
amidst savagery in the long shadow of the hijacking
episode, while telling General Musharraf that no
terrorist or rogue state can have long-term international
support. India has a clear doctrine, defence strategy and
On a ruinous path
THE killing of 13 persons by an LTTE suicide bomber outside the Sri Lankan Prime Minister's office in Colombo on Wednesday shows utter security breakdown in that country. Who was the target of attack is not as important as the truth that the young woman having had the explosive device tied to her waist was intercepted in the high security area when she could have caused a greater loss to her country. This major incident came only a few days after the one in which President Chandrika Kumaratunga herself was injured. The latest happening can be interpreted as a reminder that the island nation has entered a dangerous phase in its history. Experts are of the view that suicide bombing may become a frequent occurrence in the Sinhala south while the "war" may remain unabated in the Tamil north of Sri Lanka if no effective way is found to bridge the yawning gulf between the two principal ethnic groups there. Blaming the past, as Ms Kumaratunga did on Tuesday while addressing the nation on radio and television, will not do. She has to somehow make everybody believe that the vicious cycle of violence will only ruin Sri Lanka. The economy is already in tatters. All social indicators point to a depressing scenario. Investors' confidence in the capacity of the economy to withstand all that is happening is at a very low ebb. Only an atmosphere of reasonable security can reverse the situation. The security threat will have to be tackled on a war footing. It is surprising why the government is not doing enough on this front, as lamented by the National Movement Against Terrorism.
The recently held
presidential election has brought out the dismal truth
that Ms Kumarantunga is getting reduced to a leader of
the Sinhala majority. The support base she had among the
Tamils till 1994 has been considerably eroded. Her loss
has been the gain of the opposition leader, Mr Ranil
Wickremesinghe of the United National Party. More than
anything else, the election has brought to the fore the
sharpening divide between the Sinhalas and the Tamils.
This augurs ill for Sri Lanka. The ethnic crisis can be
handled successfully only by a government headed by a
leader acceptable to both the groups involved. Ms
Kumaratunga will have to undertake some magic exercise to
qualify for this role. Perhaps she had this weakness of
her in mind when she offered the Wickremesinghe-led UNP
to become a partner in a "national government"
in association with the ruling People's Alliance. The
arrangement could have made it easier to arrive at a
consensus needed to deal with the issues afflicting the
island nation. It could also give more strength to Ms
Kumaratunga's elbow in her fight against the LTTE. But Mr
Wickremesinghe did not find political merit in the offer
and hence his rejection. He expects to gain from Ms
Kumaratunga's mistakes. The coming parliamentary election
will be watched with greater interest as it may prove
whether the ethnic divide is really complete.
GAPS IN CRISIS MANAGEMENT
IT will take quite some time before the Vajpayee government and the country come out of the hijacking trauma. The government is surely trying its best to highlight the positive sides of the drama. But in a democratic polity like ours, facts do trickle down, howsoever slowly and selectively.
We do not have before us all the facts concerning the hijacking episode yet. Nor can we fully talk with certainty on how and where exactly the government machinery failed to grapple with the crisis.
There are wheels within wheels. And we cannot be sure which wheel of the official machinery was working for what purpose and which one wasn't. The net effect, however, of the government's crisis management was far from reassuring.
Arguments and counter-arguments can hardly help in a bad case. During the Kargil crisis spokesmen of the two principal parties, the BJP and the Congress, used to indulge in unending arguments to score points. In the hijacking case, too, a similar tendency is visible. Opposition parties (the Congress included) are equally at fault for misleading the public. When the Prime Minister met them during the height of the crisis they gave him a free hand to handle the situation. Now they talk in a different tone, blaming the government for everything that has gone wrong. If they were so wise, why didn't they share their wisdom during the meeting and guide Mr Vajpayee on the ABC of crisis management?
Hypocrisy is the hallmark of India's political culture. Every leader wants to gain by practising the politics of expediency keeping in view his vote bank interests. Who thinks of the country first? But then cheap competitive politics hardly adds to the credibility of persons in or out of the government.
We talk of transparency. Still, the authorities act in a manner which is nowhere near a reasonably transparent conduct. During the hijacking crisis I maintained that the sequence of events was a poor commentary on our housekeeping.
The moot point now is: have the persons at the helm begun to see things objectively and draw the obvious inferences from the traumatic events of the past two weeks?
Let me once again identify the areas of failure. First, as in Kargil, the country's intelligence set-up failed the nation. I restate this notwithstanding the good conduct certificates issued by the highest quarters. In fact, I have begun to feel that the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) is too raw operationally to meet the manifold challenges posed by the ISI and its collaborators!
That Kathmandu is a hotbed of terrorist activity has been a known fact. During the militancy years in Punjab, Nepal provided a convenient escape route to a number of hardcore terrorists. Many of them were actually nabbed there during those years. The ISI was active then as it is now. If anything, it has further consolidated its position taking full advantage of the laxity in the working of the Nepalese government.
The question arises: why could not our intelligence machinery and the Indian embassy in Kathmandu take appropriate action to closely monitor and counter the nefarious ISI operations?
I am sure of the nature of possible post-mortem findings in this regard. The one and only way to improve things will demand a total overhaul of the intelligence system. But can the government tackle the entrenched vested interests?
Let us not decide the usefulness or otherwise of the person or persons on the basis of his or her "political colour". National interests should not be decided on the basis of saffron or tricolour or any other choice of colour individuals show to gain attention and favours! Both Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee and Mr L.K. Advani would do well to keep this in mind. The nation must not be run on the basis of ones colour preference. The country's interests must be kept above every other consideration.
The people should not be deprived of their right to information. They would like to know how we protect the nation's interests in a friendly country which allows hostile activities on its soil by a not-so-friendly neighbour. They would also like to know the steps the government is taking to improve the functioning of our intelligence set-up.
The second critical point of concern is security, both on and off the ground. It is strange that four or five Pakistani nationals should get into an Indian aircraft at Kathmandu without proper scrutiny. Whose fault was it? The Indian Airlines authorities owe the nation an explanation.
Every lapse has to be examined critically. But certain actions have to be based on prima facie evidence and these must be quick so as to send the right signals to the right quarters. There is no evidence yet about the government's keenness to set things right after the disastrous handling of the hijack affair.
The third important aspect of the episode is the command system in times of crisis. We understand the Crisis Management Group (CMG) gets into action in such an eventuality. The group in the present case headed by the Cabinet Secretary (Mr Prabhat Kumar), consisted of the Home Secretary (Mr Kamal Pande), the Civil Aviation Secretary (Mr Ravinder Gupta), the IB chief (Mr Shyamal Dutta) and the RAW chief (Mr P.S.Dulat). Although the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Mr Brajesh Mishra, was not part of the CMG, he was actively involved in its functioning. The armed forces were not directly associated with it, which is absurd.
How come the key armed forces personnel are kept out of such a group whose action or non-action in a crisis situation has a bearing on the country's overall security? The three Service chiefs did raise this matter with the Prime Minister when they met him last week. But apparently no concrete action has been taken so far to correct the situation.
The CMG role apart, the three Service chiefs are also kept out of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). The members of the CCS are Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, Home Minister L.K. Advani, Defence Minister George Fernandes, External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh and Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha. The three Service chiefs attend the meeting whenever required.
How can we leave them out of the country's security purview? They are the ones who are asked to show results in times of crisis. The Prime Minister builds his "image" on the basis of their performance. Still, we look at our Service chiefs with suspicion!
Our democracy has come of age. The people will not accept any other form of government. So, reservation, if any, on the armed forces role is misplaced.
The fourth point which requires a close scrutiny is the failure at Amritsar and Dubai when the hijacked IA plane landed there. The Tribune was the first to highlight the operational lapse at Amritsar. Mercifully, the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister and the National Security Adviser, Mr Brajesh Mishra, has now reportedly admitted the government's failure in reacting in time to stop the hijacked aircraft at Amritsar. Still, the attempt to mix facts with fiction to cover up the failures at Amritsar is very much evident.
Equally vital is the Dubai chapter of the IC 814 flight. The plane landed at the UAE's military base. We would like to know whether the UAE authorities were approached for flushing out the hijackers. If so, what was their response?
We have the best of relations with the UAE. Even an extradition treaty exists between the two countries. I am sure the UAE government would have extended full cooperation had there been enough Indian initiative and diplomatic pressure for this purpose.
The fifth disturbing facet of the unsavoury incident is the decision by External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh to escort the three released militants in his plane. Was it necessary for him to go there personally? What sort of respect we can command in the comity of nations if the release of the militants kept in jail for a number of years happens to be supervised by a senior Minister? This job could have been left to a small-time official. Perhaps Mr Jaswant Singh's calculations were different. However, the net result of this move has come as a big shock to the majority of the people.
It is really disquieting that Ministers are ever ready to go to any extent to hog publicity and ensure their visibility on colour TV. They are ever eager to cash in on any crisis situation. Civil Aviation Minister Sharad Yadav did this by going to Dubai to bring back the released passengers. Where was the need for him to do so? Mr Jaswant Singh did this by going to Kandahar though everything had been sorted out before hand. This is very shameful, to say the least.
The sixth point which needs serious examination is the functioning or non-functioning of the decision-making mechanism. In critical situations, the most vital decisions have to be political in nature. But their operational details must be left to the security command. The quality of such decisions, of course, depends on the quality of leadership. It is one thing to brag publicly but the fact remains that during the hijack crisis the leadership at the top did not rise to the occasion. Qualitative leadership demands both guts and foresight and also the ability to withstand pressure.
The nation is known by
its inner strength. Instead of looking to the USA all the
while, we have to set our own house in order and defeat
Pakistan at its own dubious game. An answer to Pakistan's
evil designs has to come from South Block and its
operational arms. Cooperation and collaboration with
friendly powers like the USA is one thing to crush
terrorism in the subcontinent. But we should not expect
others to fight our battle. The signals from Washington
are clear in this regard.
Madhav is still alive!
IT was a late winter evening when I jumped out of my cozy bed on hearing a shrieking voice in the street. It seemed as if somebody was in real trouble. The man was half clad in tattered clothes and had clung his little baby to his chest under the cover of a shabby shawl. He was repeating again and again in a loud voice Arey hai koyee dani jo is bin maa ke bachchey par taras kha sake? Bechari ki maa mar gayee hai. Kafan ke liye paisa chahiye. I could see the man stopping at every nook and corner for collecting money.
By the time he landed in our square some generous people of the area had already replied to his entreaties. Some of them, specially ladies, gave him some second hand woollens also. The law of the land may have banned beggary, but we Indians always got moved by such pathetic scenes. We also believe in turt dan maha kalyan in such matters.
Like others, I was also moved by the story of the man, who hailed from some remote corner of Rajasthan. According to him he and his wife had come to seek majoori at Chandigarh but failed to get the right job. As if this was not enough, his wife expired on giving birth to a fifth female child, for want of timely medical help. Before my wife decided to spare a fifty-rupee note for him I offered him more help from some local volunteer organisation. But he did not respond to my suggestion the way he should have done. Instead, he preferred to leave the square hurriedly. This raised some doubts and I decided to chase him discreetly.
He had entered a market closeby. I could read relief on his face as he had called the day off. Sitting in a corner he started counting the money he had received in the name of kafan for his dead wife. He was still holding his baby with him. I was worried about him and his dead wife. One of the shopkeepers asked me in chaste Hindi Aj kya koyee khas khabar ki khoj hai saheb, fiqar mein dikhayee de rahe ho? I smiled at him but continued to chase the hero of my story.
I thought he must be heading towards his jhuggi or temporary tenement somewhere. Instead, he entered another shopping complex having huge showrooms. At last he stopped at a wine shop. He handed over his money to the man at the counter and asked for an Angrezi pauva.
He had forgotten the
last rites of his dead wife. There was no
sign of grief left on his face. The shopkeeper could
guess my confusion. He said: Arey saheb iski biwi
shivi nahin mari, iska to roz ka yahi kaam hai. Ap iska
peechha chhoro. I took pity on him and returned to
my place. But I felt as if Ghisu and Madhav (father and
son) of Munshi Premchands famous short story
Kafan are still alive in this world.
Imperatives of insurance reforms
INDUBITABLY, inadequate and ill-kept infrastructure has been a major stumbling block in the smooth execution of the economic reforms initiated in the 1990s. The India Infrastructure Report (1996) pegged at Rs 12,000 billion the infrastructure investment requirement over a decade. Where would the funds come from? Certainly not from foreign sources, for reasons like long gestation periods and relatively low returns. There is no other option but to tap, albeit innovatively, the domestic market.
Life insurance could become a major source of long-term contractual savings. Together with the provident and pension funds, life insurance helps mobilise about Rs 100 billion every year. A well developed insurance sector and other long-term contractual savings institutions can easily take on the role of natural investors for infrastructure development. Their role can be further enlarged to cover the secondary long-term debt and securities markets. Today, 75 per cent of the LICs investible funds go into government securities.
Insurance remains an awfully under-developed sector in India. Although we have the largest number of life insurance policies in the world, over 80 per cent of the insurable population, predominantly the agricultural class, remains uncovered by life insurance or pension cover. The total premium collection accounts for less than 2 per cent of the GDP. Contrast this with Japan, the USA and Singapore where insurance covers 100, 80 and 45 per cent of the population, respectively. Japan has the highest market share of the world life insurance premia followed by the USA and the UK.
Despite the Indian insurance market being Rs 400 billion strong and growing at 15-20 per cent per annum, the average premium collected per policy as also the per capita collection is abysmally low compared to the developed countries. As for the health insurance and other forms of non-life insurance, they have touched only a tiny fringe of the population so far.
Evidently, tremendous potential exists to expand the insurance market in its reach and range. The emergence of a burgeoning middle class, breaking up of the joint family norm, proliferation of nuclear families and increasing old age security concerns are bound to spur the demand for life insurance cover. Rising literacy levels, growing incomes and savings, greater consumer awareness and a risk-averse mindset are the other socio-economic-cultural factors in its favour. Insurance penetration in rural areas will increase in a big way as the economy grows and awareness spreads. It is worth mentioning here that except for the organised sector employees, there is no other group with a worthwhile social security cover by way of old age pension, etc. Non-government pension funds would become quite popular in the foreseeable future in India, and constitute a valuable financial asset for the economy.
It is axiomatic that an insurance policy holder seeks financial protection against a probable perceived risk. Insurance companies provide for this by offering policies for various situation-specific and segment-specific risk-cost combinations. The nationalised insurance industry comprising LIC and the GIC has not only remained confined to the urban areas and the organised sector but has also been less than innovative in its product range. Opening up of this sector will foster competition, innovation, efficiency and value addition. This should be seen as an integral part of the liberalisation process. East Asian markets grew phenomenally after the liberalisation of the insurance sector.
Once the insurance sector is finally opened up to private players, the new entrants would compete for business by offering, inter alia, product variety, better service and an effective grievance redressal mechanism. This would provide a bench-mark to evaluate the services being offered by the LIC or the GIC which are not yet proposed to be privatised. And the customer will exercise the choice to select the best. It is this Darwinian reality that has begun to haunt the insurance employees union which are opposing, tooth and nail, the creation of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority. Their contention that there is no untapped potential to be tapped in the insurance market is untenable.
Their argument that the private and multinational companies will siphon off national wealth abroad and cater to the urban rich alone can be countered by building appropriate safeguards in the regulatory mechanism. Foreign players have already been warned that they should not try to breach the outer limit of 26 per cent foreign equity through financial re-engineering. Thus a foreign investor being a minority stake holder in any insurance company in India, would not be able to walk away with insurance premiums. A professional services firm has found that the threat of private players swamping the insurance market has simply been overplayed. It cites the case of Taiwan where foreign companies took only a 3 per cent share of its insurance market even seven years after its opening up. Customer service, speed and flexibility are the key areas where private entrants intend to score in the Indian insurance market. Health insurance has vast potential for private players because the existing Indian products are insufficient inasmuch as they cover neither disability arising out of illness nor disability for over 100 weeks due to an accident, nor the potential loss of earning caused by disability. General insurance too offers sufficient space for private players.
Palpably, there is
enough space for everyone to survive and thrive. This is
not necessarily a zero-sum game. Given the safeguards and
the bench-marks, ones gain may not, of necessity,
be anothers loss. In any case, the market may no
longer remain seller driven, as it is now. A strong
regulatory authority is a sine qua non. Arguably, in this
era of information technology, liberalisation is not an
option, but an imperative.
Americas two-faced foreign policy
HOW is it that America was indifferent to the Indian hijack crisis? Surely, with its global reach, power and influence, it could have put an end to it? But it did not.
Is there an explanation? There is one: Washington wants to make use of Islamic fundamentalism and related forces to advance its own global interests.
You are not convinced? That is because we have all short memories. Remember, in their early careers, both Hitler and Mussolini were befriended by America. The idea was to eventually use the Fascist and Nazi forces against the Communist Soviet Union. This is history, not fiction. We know what the world had to pay for that folly.
Had America told them that it would lead the war against Fascism and Nazism, perhaps Hitler and Mussolini would not have staked their all in their adventure.
I have another example of the double-faced foreign policy of America a rather longish story of the Chechnyan imbroglio, but an apt illustration of the games the Americans play. Apparently, America was concerned over the human rights violations in Chechnya.
But what was the real angle? Oil and gas of the Caucusus region. The idea to grab the Caucusus began long ago first by the British and then by the Americans as far ago as 1907, when the founder of the Royal Dutch Shell established an oil facility with the help of one of the richest farers of Grozny, Tapochermoyev.
Came World War I, and the Turks captured Baku, the centre of the oil industry then. Britain counter-attacked and it also made a foray into the Caspian region, rich in oil.
Taking advantage of the war, both Chechnya and Dagestan declared their independence. In May, 1918, Tapochermoyev proclaimed himself President of Chechnya and Dagestan. As the war ended in the defeat of Germany and Turkey, he fled to Paris with his loot.
After the 1917 revolution, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia became independent republics within the Soviet Union. Chechnya and Dagestan became autonomous republics.
In 1940 the Chechens formed an interim government in the mountains, perhaps with German help. During the war, the Germans occupied North Caucusus. In 1944 Stalin ordered the deportation of the Chechens to Kazakhstan. After Khruschev denounced Stalin in 1959, the Chechens returned to Chechnya. Russia added two more regions to Chechnya and invested heavily in its oil industry. It also constructed an oil pipeline from Baku to Grozny and from Grozny to Novorossisk. The best refinery of the Soviet Union was built in Grozny.
After the debacle of the Soviet Union in 1991, Dudayev, the Chechen air force general, declared the independence of Chechnya. This time Washington backed the secession openly. Chechnya was in possession of huge quantities of arms left over on its territory.
In 1995-96, Nukhayev, the new Deputy Prime Minister, organised a group of financiers to put up a Caucusus Common Market (CCM). It was headed by Lord McAlpine, the British Tory party treasurer. Another man who was associated with the scheme was one James Goldsmith, the father-in-law of Imran Khan, the cricketer. The CCM was formally inaugurated in 1997. Nukhayev also set up the Caucusus Investment Fund and a new organisation the American Chamber of Commerce.
In March, 1998, Maskhadov, the new President of Chechnya, went to London, where various interest groups were assembled. Interestingly, the groups which came from Chechnya had connections with Osama bin Laden. In fact, they had asked him to shift to Chechnya.
It was after the new accretion of strength that the Chechen rebels decided to cut the oil pipeline and the railway line from Azerbaijan to Russia. To add to the humiliation of Moscow, Chechen rebel Shamil Bassayev and the Jordanian terrorist Khetab attacked Dagestan to annex it to Chechnya.
It is said that the costs of all these adventures were being met by the US oil companies. That explains the stake.
Moscow decided to strike back. But it had another reason to do so: America had managed to construct a new oil pipeline from the Caspian to Turkey avoiding Russian territory. Moscow had objected to this, but was powerless to stop it.
As Moscow mounted a fierce bombardment of Chechnya, there was immediate howl of protest of human rights violations. The western world also made a hue and cry at the Istanbul conference of the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe. This is a game in which America has become adept.
The US objective was to further weaken Russia and cut off the benefits it was enjoying from its oil operations in Azerbaijan and Caspian. It was all a question of national interests that of America.
I have given this long story of Chechnya, for it explains and exposes the two-faced foreign policy of the United States.
Oil has been a major element of imperialist politics. It dominated the politics of the 20th century. Oil is what makes the world go, not computer chips. Computer chips cannot fuel ships and planes. Nor can it fuel missiles. You can make money from computer chips, but you can make more from oil and gas.
The reserves of oil in West Asia and Iran are getting exhausted. There is only one region which holds out the prospect of meeting the demands of the world in the 21st century. That is the region from Caucusus to Mongolia, mostly inhabited by Muslims. To gain command over this region, it is necessary to eliminate the Russian influence first of all, and then to win over the Muslims, through a carrot and stick policy: carrot, if they behave well, if not by unleashing the punishing forces of terrorism. That is where Pakistan comes in. It can be useful either way.
But the fundamentalists and terrorists are anti-American, you protest? True, but there are few sons of mothers who cannot be bought for a good price. Plato knew it and he put Laws above Man. Little did he know then that man could subvert his own Laws!
Be that as it may, America has already worked out its grand strategy. Of this the world will never be sure, for it has two faces, one clever and dark and the other bright and benign. You pick what you choose. Our own men in the MEA have chosen the benign face. Arent they guardians of the soft Indian state?
America could not have put pressure on General Musharraf, the moderate man, as it calls him, for he is the best thing that has happened to America in a long while. He will serve US interests better than Nawaz Sharif.
It is an unfortunate fact that we know very little about General Musharraf. We know that he is a highly religious man, a devoted fundamentalist of the Deoband school. But he is also a Mohajir, one whose commumnity has been spurned by the Pakistan state. (I am yet to come across a piece of writing on the mindset of a Mohajir. I am reminded of Alcibiades in Shakespeare.) Musharraf is an educated and intelligent Mohajir. He cannot be a Pakistan nationalist. Never. He can only be a pan-Islamist. He would have liked to be a member of neo-Caliphate. And his hatred of India must be immeasurable. Our leaders are yet to come to grips with these realities.
Musharraf is perhaps the most powerful man ever in Pakistan. He has the support of the army and the entire fundamentalist and terrorist forces. Above all, he can rely on Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Toiba. Every politician in Pakistan lives in dread of their killers. Remember, the Lashkar is grateful to Musharraf, for he allowed it to hold the international conference at Muridke in November last, which was cancelled on the orders of Nawaz Sharif. One of the first things he did after seizing power was to take the pressure off the militant outfits.
And what did they say at the international conference? They said that the Pakistani army is a Mujahideen army. Every speaker spoke of Jehad as the only option before Muslims. For what, you may ask: to bring about Islamic rule over the world! This is not Fascism or Nazism. It is much worse.
And let us not forget that Musharraf was the commandant of the training schools for Mujahideen in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Lakhs of them, who went through their training under him, are loyal to him. During this phase, Musharraf came close to Osama bin Laden and the narcotic barons, which was perhaps why Washington was in two minds about the man.
THE re-election of Mr V.J. Patel as President of the Bombay Corporation is not only a great personal triumph for Mr Patel, but a clear indication of the great advance that the political movement in the country has made during the last few years.
It is not difficult to imagine what would have been the verdict of the Bombay Corporation or of any other similarly constituted body on a similar issue 4 or 5 years ago.
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