Tuesday, January 11, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



India and the Taliban

APROPOS of Mr Hari Jaisingh’s write up, “India and the Taliban: significant fallout of Kandahar crisis” (December 31), there is no denying that, contrary to expectation, the Taliban showed a high sense of responsibility in dealing with the hijacking crisis. Little wonder, therefore, that the Indian authorities have, without hesitation, expressed their deep gratitude to the government which we have not so far recognised in spite of the fact that it governs large parts of Afghanistan. It shows also that the Taliban, labelled as a lawless outfit, abides by certain norms which had the desired effect on the hijackers. This was evident from the fact that the latter were made to drop their demands for money and the body of the slain terrorist by dictating that they were un-Islamic. In fact, the Taliban conducted itself with great sophistication from the time the hijacked plane landed at Kandahar.

  Just think of the images the Taliban projected before the hijacking episode and then during eight days of the crisis. During the fighting for the control of Kabul and the rest of the country and afterwards, it came out as a medieval force disdainful of modern ideas of tolerance, equity of gender equality, putting the narrowest, even uncalled for interpretations on the tenets of Islam. Besides, India is among those countries which chose not to deal with it because of the suspicion of its involvement in the Kashmir violence.

Much of it should change now especially in India’s perception. Despite non-recognition, New Delhi had been dealing with the Taliban representatives during the recent crisis. The Taliban has succeeded in acquiring diplomatic space which would be of considerable use to it. On its part, India will find it hard not to rethink its stand.

Going by the experience of the past few days, there is the danger of analysts, both official and non-official, resorting to the facile assumption that the Taliban would be making a debut as a force, independent of Pakistan. As a matter of fact, its move to forge new ties will be an extension of the process that did not go beyond its recognition by just three countries — Pakistan (its creator), Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

To say this is not to suggest that Kabul, for all time to come, will accept the status of subservience to an outside power. That is the message conveyed by the latest conduct of this independence-loving nation. This, however, is not the immediate prospect.


Punjab pensioners

With reference to Mr R.K.Aggarwal’s letter (December 20), regarding Haryana pensioners, the same is the case with Punjab pensioners. There is great disparity in the pension of pre-1996 retirees and those who retired on or after 1.1.96.

The Central Government in December, 1998, accepted the recommendations of the Pay Commission to fix the pension of the pre-1996 pensioners subject to a minimum of 50% of the lowest stage in the revised pay scale of the rank from which the pensioner had retired. These rates were made applicable for the Central Government employees from 1.1.96 without calling for fresh application. However, the Punjab Government has not implemented this so far; although the government is committed to applying the same rules.

To remove the anomalies, in the new millennium, for the pensioners, the government should discard the age-old formula for calculating pension i.e. last 10 months average pay multiplied by the number of years put in government service. There should be a uniform formula on all-India level, viz pension should be 50% of the last pay drawn in the revised pay scales irrespective of number of years in government job.

With the implementation of this rule by the government all the pensioners will be satisfied and there will be much less work in offices for fixing pension. Moreover no one will go to the courts to get the anomalies removed.




Problem of misgovernance

Mr Amrik Singh deserves to be complimented for his excellent article, “Economic initiatives: but what about governance?” (The Tribune, Dec. 28), focusing pointed attention on the bane of gross misgovernance increasingly plaguing the country. I fully share the point adumbrated in the article. The basic issue confronting the country at the moment is how to govern — ensuring reasonably good governance.

There is no gainsaying the fact that the “rule of law” — sine qua non of a civilised/democratic polity — is being increasingly undermined, thanks to the natural offshoots of misgovernance, including “weak policing, a defective legal system and the unbridled growth of corruption”. The gloomy situation seems crying for notice.

Sadly, however, the powers that be seem least bothered, thus conforming the view that the country’s political parties have developed a vested interest in the police continuing to function in the erratic and arbitrary way that it does now for the simple reason that it suits their nefarious design.

It cannot be over-emphasised that no step for the country’s socio-economic recovery/health, not even the much-trumpted policy of “economic liberalisation”, would click unless “misgovernance” yields place to “good governance”, as the article rightly opines. Let the powers that be pause, ponder and make an earnest bid to reverse the horrendous trend, failing which the consequences are bound to be disastrous.

Ambota (Una)


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