|Friday, January 21, 2000,
sent to museum
PACKAGE" FOR KASHMIR
still blind to Pak follies!
is not well with Pak-Kabul links
talks till Pak ends hostility: Jaswant
January 21, 1925
Trai sent to museum
POOR TRAI. Even before it could get over the shock of two adverse judgements, the government is packing it off to the museum of modern institutions. There it will be in good company. The much-hyped but later disowned Divestment Commission is already there. No doubt, more such inconvenient panels will join the musty hall, which is a tribute to Indian political and bureaucratic love for radical reforms but without changing anything. Reforms yes, but after a few fitful years, it is always time to deform whatever little has changed. TRAI is a textbook illustration of the governments inability to put up with and listen to specialist advice. Its cardinal sin was to believe in the assurances and policy promises issuing from the Cabinet and the secretariat and promptly act on it. First it read the rules in their broadest perspective and promptly collided with the DoT which was determined not to yield an inch to the new kid on the block. The DoT was clear that there can be only one master and it has to be that. TRAI said alright, you issue the licences and we shall fix the rates and other ground rules. That was being very brash and on Wednesday the DoT showed who was what.
Anybody who knows anything about government functioning at the highest levels will vouchsafe that the Yes Minister trait is not exclusively British and India has more than its share. Any secretary or a committee of secretaries can deploy dusty files, queer precedents, ancient court rulings and a dozen other official secrets they alone are privy to and prove that two plus two can be two, three, four or even five. A new kind of pig iron frame, the progeny of the famed steel frame of the colonial days, ensures continuity which is the same as saying it throttles change. It explains why in the Left-ruled West Bengal and until recently the Shiv Sena-BJP-ruled Maharashtra things do not differ dramatically on any major issue. And administrative culture has an inbuilt resistance to reforms. Liberalisation and deregulation are premised on the government withdrawing from policy-making and executive functions and be only a facilitator, a new fangled term for helping big business and foreign trade to grow fast and earn a fatter profit. It is quite glamorous to incessantly talk of economy growing by so many percentage points and exports moving northwards (as though a graph is a map and north points at the top) but the painful part is giving up or sharing power. Finance Minister Yashwant Sinhas disinvestment plans threaten to go awry because the respective administrative ministries are loathe to let go even part of public sector units. Nor will the creation of a new Ministry under Mr Arun Jaitly help. If the government were serious, the job would have gone to a political heavyweight who can whip laggards into action.
A study by a
Mumbai-based research institution says that a decade of
economic reforms has not made any impact on the
bureaucratic procedures or mindset; what the babus
earlier did with pen and rattling typewriter, they now do
on a computer. But they do the same thing. Coming back to
TRAI, it wanted to shape and reshape policies and
priorities and in a hurry. In so doing it became another
centre of power. Actually that was its biggest
achievement to challenge the mighty DoT and drag
it kicking and screaming to the new age. Suddenly there
was debate on basic issues of telecommunications and
everything was out in the open, even the wrangling. At
the height of the three-way dispute between TRAI, DoT and
the service providers, a prospective foreign investor
enthusiastically remarked that the communication lines
among the three are now modern, clear and audible. The
resultant transparency and the fast expanding user base
would have meant liberal investments which is essential
to build sound, both technologically and financially,
private sector long distance telephone lines. Ironically,
it is this TRAI proposal that accelerated the move to
liquidate it, well, to strengthen it, as the government
Controversial CBSE grades
WHEN the Central Board of Secondary Education announced last year that it would introduce a new system of evaluation of the performance of class X students the proposal was described by educationists as bold, innovative and progressive. The new system under which grades and not marks are to be awarded is to be introduced from this year for the class X examination conducted by the CBSE. However, just about every individual and institution associated with school education, except the CBSE, seem to have developed cold feet at the last minute and now want more time for debating the merit and demerit of the system of awarding grades instead of marks. Since the switchover to an untried system of evaluation would affect several lakh school students, it is but natural for teachers and parents to demand some sort of a dry-run before it is put into practice. The Delhi Government has even issued a threat to the CBSE to put on hold the new evaluation system for at least one year otherwise the Delhi Education Department would set up its own school education board and hold examinations for protecting the interests of class X students. Delhi Education Minister Narendra Nath wants students to become familiar with all aspects of the new system before it is introduced because class X results determine the future of school students across the country. Dr Naths suggestion that the new system should be tried first in class IX before being introduced for evaluating the performance of students in the board examination is not without merit. Under the new system students would be given grades and not marks in each subject. The grading will be done on a scale of nine with A1 and A2 representing the top two grades and D1 and D2 followed by E representing the lower grades.
The most remarkable
feature of the new system, which may be the cause of
anxiety among some teachers and parents of meritorious
students, is that no student would be declared as having
failed the examination. However, only students who obtain
the minimum D2 qualifying marks in at least four out of
the five subjects would be issued certificates to enable
them to take admission in the next class. The lower grade
students will be given the opportunity to appear in grade
improvement examinations within a period of two years.
The scheme was actually marketed as freedom from
the fear of failure and was widely seen by
educationists and students as bold and progressive. It
was meant to arrest the trend to commit suicide among
failed students. Nevertheless, in the light of seemingly
valid objections having been raised against the
implementation of the grading system, without taking into
account what is called the X factor, the CBSE would be
well-advised to put the decision on hold. There are those
who believe that all CBSE-affiliated schools should be
asked to introduce the grading system of evaluation from
class I itself (instead of imposing at the top) for both
the students and the teachers to get familiar and feel
comfortable with the concept. In other words, schools
should be given a period of 10 years to prepare, by
training teachers and creating the necessary
infrastructure, before switching over to a system of
evaluation which seeks to achieve the laudable objective
of sparing students the stigma of having
failed the tests prepared by members of the
species which is streets ahead of other creations of
Nature in the matter of committing monumental errors.
"PROACTIVE PACKAGE" FOR
NOTWITHSTANDING the new proactive approach to combat terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir announced by the Central Government in New Delhi early this week, crucial policies and action still remain to be initiated and put into actual operation.
Mondays announcement mainly relates to operational strategies and plans such as:
The plan details spelt out above are basically operational matters. They need not have been part of a high-sounding public announcement. For, looking at the complexity of the problems in Kashmir, misplaced expectations from the people can do more harm than good.
The problem with most leaders is that they hardly show unity of purpose. Mondays meeting was no doubt presided over by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. It was attended, among others, by Union Home Minister L.K. Advani, Defence Minister George Fernandes, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, J & K Governor G.C. Saxena, Foreign Secretary Lalit Man Singh, Army Chief Gen V.P. Malik and top officials of the Central and state governments.
The sole significance of the meeting was that it reflected a new-found seriousness of the BJP-led coalition government to tackle Pakistans proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir by pursuing what Home Minister L.K. Advani loves to proclaim a proactive approach.
A proactive policy need not be a matter of public pronouncement. It has to be practised on the ground and seen in action. Mere rhetoric can hardly improve the security environment. This is common sense.
Giving the security forces a free hand and a unified command are two essential components for the success of any operation. It is no secret that the central paramilitary forces often work at cross purposes. They also do not have the advantage of vigorous training and discipline as in the case of the Army.
True, the Centre has now decided to raise special battalions of paramilitary forces. But bringing them to the efficiency-level of the Army will not be an easy task. In any case, a unified command for countering terrorism alone can produce the desired results.
As it is, the Centre has neither a coherent policy on Kashmir, nor has it been able to evolve a comprehensive plan of action to frustrate Pakistans design to grab the state by hook or by crook.
Looking at Islamabads belligerent mood under General Musharraf, nothing can be more shameful than the absence of a coordinated policy and thinking for a state which emotionally, philosophically and otherwise is the centre to all that the Indian culture and nationhood stand for.
It is virtually a mini-India that we are fighting for. At stake is not merely Kashmiriat but also the entire value system of the Indian nation, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah told me during an informal conversation last week at Chandigarh.
I wonder whether the leaders in Delhi look at Kashmir in a broader strategic, political, economic, cultural and emotional perspective. They mostly look at it through their narrow political angularities and that is why mistakes are repeated so frequently.
Take the case of exchange of hostages for three dreaded militants. Did the Crisis Management Group consider the repercussions of such an action on the morale of the armed forces and the people in general, especially those who disapprove of terrorist acts by Islamic fundamentalist groups in the valley and beyond?
I do not wish to go into the desirability or otherwise of such a course. I have discussed the issue in depth in my earlier columns. The point that needs close monitoring is whether the policy-makers have firmed up their plans to directly target foreign-prompted militants so that the message goes to the right quarters that India means business and that it is not prepared to take things lying down. In other words, will Mr Advanis proactive approach show results in due course?
Dr Farooq Abdullah was not off the mark when he stated at a seminar in Chandigarh that we lack guts. To quote him: I must tell you that India does not have the guts to fight Pakistan. Pakistan knows this and that is why it is infiltrating everywhere in the country.
What the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir has said is pure hometruth and we have to see his remarks in that spirit. True, Dr Abdullah sometimes tends to play to the gallery. Still, the fact remains that with all his faults and follies, he continues to be the best bet for India, both domestically and internationally. He deserves support to deliver the goods.
Dr Abdullah has his weaknesses. He is full of life. One charge against him is that he is hardly available in the state capital for serious work. I was told about it by a number of persons during my visit to Srinagar three months ago.
Of course, Dr Abdullah derives his strength from the people. But it is also a fact that a sizeable section of his followers has of late got alienated from him for various reasons.
Dr Abdullah can retrieve his position provided he is assisted in his onerous task of putting J & K back on the rails. It is no secret that the state with its limited resources is faced with a grave financial crisis because of the Fifth Pay Commission report. The increased salary burden has added to the woes of the Chief Minister. This has also resulted in administrative drift which goes not only against the states political leadership but also against the vital interests of the Government of India.
It needs to be appreciated that the blame for any political and administrative lapse in Srinagar is attributed to the Centre. The militant outfits exploit this to their advantage. The credibility of the Centre too gets affected in the process.
There is an urgent need today for a fresh look at all the facets of the Kashmir problem. More than anything else, what is required is an integrated thinking and action, keeping in view the peoples craving for an efficient working and responsive administrative structure.
Kashmirs is not merely a military matter. Nor should its handling be a half-hearted political exercise. In a way, it also needs to be seen as part of the psychological warfare unleashed by the enemy from across the border.
Union Home Minister L.K. Advani often talks about pursuing a proactive policy. I wonder whether he understands the basic ingredients of such a course. First of all, he has to specify the parameters of the government policy.
Two, a proactive policy has to take into account both ground realities and desired targets. A major area of concern here should be the spreading tentacles of Islamic fundamentalists and different militant outfits under the sponsorship of the ISI.
Three, New Delhi should seriously examine the possibility of cutting off all sources of foreign funds flowing freely into the coffers of militant organisations.
Four, the authorities should comprehensively assess the strength and weaknesses of various militant outfits operating in the valley and their overseas links.
Five, a close scrutiny is needed of the activities of local agents working in collaboration with their links abroad.
Six, the routes through which arms, ammunition and other deadly weapons are smuggled into the state require constant vigil.
Seven, training camps in Kashmir, Pakistan-occupied areas and elsewhere in Pakistan call for close monitoring and action.
Eight, mercenaries recruited in Afghanistan and other Islamic countries operating in the valley demand extra special attention of the security forces. Even the local people have no sympathy for them. So, they have to be identified and eliminated.
We can evolve proper responses once we have proper feedback on the vital matters given above. Perhaps, it will be worth examining the repeated demands made by Dr Abdullah for blasting the training camps run by Pakistan. This alone can send the right signals at home and abroad that we do not lack guts and that we know how and when to strike, whatever might be the odds.
Perhaps, we are afraid of reaction of some western countries, especially the USA. Perhaps, we tend to forget that the Americans do not hesitate to hit terrorist camps in any part of the world if they think that their basic interests are in jeopardy.
With subtle diplomatic
moves, we can make the world go along with us. Islamic
countries may not support us publicly but a number of
them will not only appreciate the Indian plight but will
also privately endorse an Indian action to combat the
growing menace of terrorism the world over. For this, it
is necessary that our policy-makers and mandarins keep a
few tricks of modern diplomacy in mind.
USA still blind to Pak
DESPITE the increasing clamour in India for declaring Pakistan a terrorist state and the Prime Ministers affirmation that he had urged the USA to do so, Washington appears to be in no mood to do so. An influential section in the USA is still convinced that the administration should view Pakistan as a bulwark against terrorism in that region.
This is a most amazing reaction from a nation which calls itself the worlds most powerful democracy. The past few months have given a clear indication of how Pakistan has been pampering terrorists, offering them shelter, protection and encouragement. If there were any doubts on the issue, they were settled by the manner the Pakistan government reacted to the hijack of IC 814 and the events which followed it.
The hijack and the release of the hostages had several strange features. After getting their way, the five hijackers coolly walked away with the three Kashmiri militants released by India. The Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, unlike any civilised country, took no steps against them. The hijackers and the released Kashmiri militants, like the cowboys of a Western film, just walked away into the sunset. This must have been one of the few cases where a group of hijackers were allowed to go away scotfree with their released friends in tow.
The Taliban government pretended as though it had no further interest in the matter and claimed it had no knowledge as to the present whereabouts of the hijackers and their friends. It was deception at its worst. They knew, we knew and everyone in the world knew, that there was only one destination for them, Pakistan. Despite unconvincing denials, it was clear that the hijackers and the released militants had reached the safety of Pakistan, which had played a leading role in the hijack. Under such circumstances, the claims of the Pakistan government that it would not allow the hijackers to enter Pakistan and would arrest them if they did so sounded laughable.
The USA was fully aware of these developments. In fact, it was so concerned with the provocative statements made by Masood Azhar that it asked the Pakistan government to tone these down. In the days to come, we can expect heightened tension and perhaps more plots against the Indian state. The recent discovery by the Mumbai police linking the hijack case with the ISI could not be overlooked. And yet, the USA was still hesitant to declare Pakistan a terrorist state.
Why such a hesitation? America is highly sensitive to the issue of international terrorism because it knows that it is the prime target for Islamic fundamentalist groups. In fact, US embassies in African nations were bombed with the loss of life and property. The American government linked these attacks with the activities of Osama bin Laden and went after him. Today Bin Laden is supposed to live in Afghanistan, but the Taliban would not agree to have him extradited.
Yet the American concern against international terrorism was directed against Iraq, Iran, Libya and Sudan. Iraq, for several years, has been fighting the economic sanctions, imposed by the UN under instructions from the USA and the UK. Iraqi children continue to die of malnutrition, but the USA and the UK, whose main aim is to get rid of President Saddam Hussein, would not relent. The UN observer teams, under US prodding, went on making insinuations about Iraq possessing chemical, biological and nuclear weapons without any proof whatsoever. The personal anger against Saddam Hussein and the keenness to remove him has blinded the USA to the realities of the situation in Iraq. Saddam will go the day his own people revolt against him. Today there are no signs of such a revolt.
It also has personal grudge against President Qaddafi which has prompted the USA to label Libya as a terrorist state. Qaddafi has always been a sort of maverick leader, cocking a snook at the so-called US influence in the West Asian region. Such grudges run deep. The UK government is only carrying on decades-old prejudices against Qaddafi for his role in taking over the UK-owned oil industry and installing self-respect in his countrymen. As in the case of Iraq, both the USA and the UK would love to seek Qaddafi replaced by someone more pliable. It was the independence and arrogance of these two leaders which led to their nations being labelled terrorist states by the USA and the UK. Iran, from the time of the revolution, has also been an enemy. The notorious Shah of Iran had been a particular friend of the USA mainly because he purchased arms worth billions of dollars from American firms. That was the main reason why Dr Henry Kissinger had such a good opinion of him and was one of the chief guests at his lavish coronation. Any force which toppled the Shah was bound to incur the wrath of the USA and the UK. It was natural that the mullahs who took over Iran never found favour with the USA and the nation had to be branded a terrorist state.
In the case of Pakistan, the issues were different. From the time India and Pakistan became free in 1947, some of the nations of the West had tended to favour Pakistan. Despite singing praise of democracy, the USA had always found it easier to get along with the military dictatorships in Pakistan than the genuinely democratic state of India. The USA frowned at Indias friendship with the USSR and its refusal to support USA on several international issues. There were frequent clashes at the UN bodies like the Security Council and some of the right-wing leaders in the USA asserted that India was a satellite of the Soviet Union.
The USA has always viewed India as a competitor in the region. Successive Indian governments under Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi saw to it that the nation followed an independent, nonaligned foreign policy. Occasionally, there was a slant towards the USSR. This was inevitable because the USSR seemed to understand the aspirations of the young Indian Republic better than the West. In a nation beset by poverty and illiteracy, socialism did sound attractive. Nehru, no doubt, was enamoured of industry, science and technology but he was deeply suspicious about the motives of most Indian industrialists. His suspicions, in the long run, did prove to be right.
Yet India as soon as it became independent, assumed the role of a world power. When Nehru and Indira Gandhi were in power, the voice of India mattered in international affairs. Our approach to militarism, foreign aid, interference in the internal affairs of other nations and total opposition to neo-colonialism differed sharply with that of the USA. The Generals of Pakistan, on the other hand, were happy to go along with the western viewpoints on major international issues.
Today, of course, the
picture has changed, but it is surprising that the US
suspicion about Indias motives still linger. For
some of the senior dyed-in-the-wool US Senators
Indias independent stand on several issues is still
All is not well with Pak-Kabul
WE know little of the Taliban of their political ambitions or their relations with Pakistan. They are highly secretive.
The Durand Line is what divides Pakistan and Afghanistan. But Afghanistan has not recognised it in all these years! The silence is ominous.
This is a British legacy. Like the Macmohan Line. The Durand Line, drawn up in 1894-95, ran through Pashtun territory, dividing them into two. Reminds one of the partition of Bengal. The Pashtuns never accepted it.
In 1949, after the British left India, the Afghan Government disowned all treaties with British India. The Durand Line, first of all. But the line was a matter of great concern to Pakistan. It wanted to preserve it at all costs.
The lapse of the Durand Treaty in 1995 made Pakistan desperate about who ruled in Kabul. What it wanted was a docile Pashtun Government there. That would have neutralised anyone who could have challenged the Durand Line. This explains why Islamabad created the Taliban out of Afghan refugees and put on it an Islamic garb to veil the significant national and strategic interests of Pakistan. This has not received the kind of attention it deserves in India, although the Pashtuns on both sides of the Durand had wanted to create an independent Pashtunistan. No wonder, Pakistan seized the opportunity offered by Soviet occupation of Afghanistan to impose a regime on Kabul favourable to itself. It just happened it could take advantage of the cold war.
The Taliban continues to depend on Pakistan for funds, arms, equipment and logistical support. But it is not without knowledge of Islamabads designs.
Sectarian violence against Afghans in Pakistan has, of late, become a matter of concern. Several Afghans were arrested in Peshawar and Quetta. The Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan has submitted a written protest against these arrests.
The US economic sanctions against Kabul have taken their exactions. America has frozen the assets of Ariana Afghan Airline and persuaded New Delhi to ban Ariana flights to Amritsar. The UN Security Council sanctions, passed without a single dissent, have further aggravated Kabuls problems. Pakistan has failed to secure more recognition for Kabul even from Islamic states.
Not this alone. Kabul has many other grievances. Under the transit trade agreement with Pakistan, Afghanistan was permitted to import luxury goods. The Sharif Government put a stop to this on the ground that the goods were smuggled back to Pakistan. Also, Pakistan was losing an enormous amount of money by way of duties on these imports.
At one time, the Sharif Government was seriously thinking of disarming the militants with the help of the army. Sharifs Interior Minister Shujat Hussein echoed these feelings when he said: We do accept that we should not have encouraged them in a way that they can now harm us. Kabul has resented these attitudes.
Perhaps it was Nawaz Sharifs opposition to the narcotic trade which was the last straw to the Taliban. Under pressure from Washington, Pakistan banned the cultivation of poppy (so it says). Of course, the alarming spread of drug addiction in Pakistan was what clinched the matter. In the 1980s, Pakistan produced 800 tonnes per year. In 1999 it was no more than 10 tonnes. Pakistan has also destroyed all heroin processing labs within its territory. But Afghanistans dependence on narcotic revenue has increased. In 1998 Afghan production was 2100 tonnes; in 1999 it went up to 4600 tonnes. A good part of these used to be processed in Pak labs. This is no more possible. Pakistan has put up other obstacles to the narcotic trade.
Today the Taliban has become the focus of all anti-terroristic forces. This is because Afghanistan has become a haven for all terrorists. Osama bin Laden and his organisation, al-Qaida, are not the only ones which have become notorious. The Taliban has been playing host to members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the Algerian armed Islamic group, Kashmir separatists and a number of militant organisations from Central Asia, including terrorists from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Bin Ladens influence and reach have steadily grown.
According to US intelligence agencies, Bin Laden has created a truly international terrorist enterprise drawing on recruits from areas across Asia, Africa and Europe, as well as the Middle East.
Washington is naturally worried over the growing influence of Bin Laden. So, after the failure of the cruise missile attack by America on Bin Ladens camps, America was left with no other alternative but to put pressure on Pakistan to curb Bin Ladens activities. This has annoyed the Taliban. It is now clear that Taliban had a hand in the sectarian violence in Pakistan, especially in the killing of Shiias. (The Taliban are Sunni wahabis.) Its sole objective was to make the Sharif Government unpopular. It had another unexpected development: influential public opinion welcomed an army takeover. This is what alarmed the Sharif brothers, Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif. The brothers began to put the heat on the fundamentalists and terrorists.
With solid evidence that the sectarian terrorists were receiving training in Afghanistan, Nawaz Sharif wrote to the Taliban chief Mullah Mohammed Omar to close down the training camps. We have made it clear to the Taliban that this is not acceptable to Pakistan, Sharif had said. Kabul denied the existence of any such camps.
Shabaz Sharif, too, accused the Taliban militia in Afghanistan of harbouring criminals wanted in Punjab for sectarian killings. He said that the most wanted criminal Riaz Basra of the Sipah-e-Shahaba Pakistan, notorious for its anti-Shiia violence, was living in Afghanistan.
It is clear from all these that Kabul and Islamabad were on a collision course before the military takeover. No wonder the Taliban welcomed the advent of General Musharraf.
The radical Taliban is a brain-child of the Pakistan army. Naturally, it enjoys the support of its Islamic elements. The young officers are mostly drawn from madrasas. And, remember, General Musharraf was the commandant of the entire Taliban training programme in Pakistan and Afghanistan. His links are still strong.
With all that, Musharraf will not permit a free hand to the fundamentalists and terrorists, for that will stir up public opinion against his regime. What is worse, instability will ruin the economic reform he has just announced. He wants stability to invite foreign investment. the success of his economic package is a matter of life or death to him. Musharraf cannot be oblivious of Prof Stephen Cohens dire prediction that Pakistan belongs to that class of states whose very survival is uncertain. Nor could he have forgotten what Yahya Khan once told sixty of his ambassadors: Kashmir by all means, but not at the cost of Pakistan.
Now that Washington has called for a ban on Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (no doubt selective approach), the radicals are more likely to find sanctuary in Afghanistan. This will further isolate Kabul and invite reprisals from America on Bin Laden and other radicals.
Will the Taliban allow itself to be made a target of world fury? Or will it promote a Taliban-type revolution in Pakistan?
Afghanistan is more
likely to break up. What course will the Pashtun Taliban
take in that case, one cannot be sure. These are the
imponderables of history.
No talks till Pak ends hostility: Jaswant
LONDON, Jan 20 (PTI) India has ruled out a dialogue with Pakistan till Islamabad created a proper environment by adjuring violence, giving up encouragement to cross-border terrorism and ending the daily cry of jihad against it.
These are not preconditions. These are essential integrals for the creation of a proper environment, External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh said last night on BBC World TVs Asia Today programme.
We will remain committed to dialogue and reconciliation. But it is obvious that, for this, not as a precondition but as an integral of the dialogue process itself, a proper environment be created, he said.
He said Pakistan had to recognise that this compulsive hostility that it demonstrates towards India must cease.
I dont wish to particularise it and concentrate only on the hijack at Kandahar, which was a trial for large number of Indians, but there is need for Pakistan to come to terms with reality, he said.
Asked to define reality, he said The reality being that India really has no hostility towards Pakistan, that Pakistan can simply not have a position of perpetual confrontation towards India which will cause irreparable damage.
Asked whether the two countries were conducting a proxy war, Jaswant Singh said Pakistan is certainly conducting a clandestine war, not a proxy war.
And so far as India is concerned and certainly since the BJP government came to power, not last year but in 1998, there is no question of any such kind of activity in Pakistan ever having been encouraged by India, he said.
Answering a query on whether he has any hostility towards Gen (Pervez) Musharraf, Chief Executive of Pakistan, the External Affairs Minister said Of course not, not in the slightest. I scarcely know the gentleman.
Asked whether the working group on counter-terrorism set up at the 10th round of Indo-US talks on nuclear issues was linked to the recent hijacking of the Indian Airlines plane, Jaswant Singh replied in the negative.
It is not a consequence of the hijacking alone if thats what you mean by linking but it is a joint working group that India and the USA have set up to combat the international menace of terrorism because the assumption being that there is recognition by both countries that there is, indeed, such menace and it needs to be addressed jointly.
To a query whether US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott agreed with Indias position that Pakistan was directly involved in the hijacking, he said Well, we discussed it but it was not my expectation that I wanted from Strobe Talbott a judgement one way or another. These are necessarily issues that are considered at some length by various countries from different angles.
Asked whether he told Talbott when India would sign the CTBT, Jaswant Singh said It is not a question of when we would sign the comprehensive test ban treaty, our position is very clear with this regard.
We, in any case, continue to observe the voluntary moratorium on any further testing and we have quite explicitly stated that the commitment that India has made of converting this voluntary moratorium into a de jure obligation requires that we build within India as wide a political consensus as we can.
Answering a question on any plans to reduce tension in the South Asian region, he said India had already demonstrated the steps it could take.
India after all is the initiator of the dialogue (with Pakistan) and the process of reconciliation. That was what the dramatic and historic bus journey to Lahore was about. It remains a matter of great regret and disappointment both to Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee and himself personally that the bus was turned away from Lahore and sent to Kargil, he said.
Asked whether Indias hostility to Pakistan was based on the belief that Musharraf was in charge of Pakistans army during the Kargil conflict, Jaswant Singh said India had no such hostility as the questioner suggested.
In fact for the people of Pakistan, this government and the people of India have nothing but the greatest of fellow feeling, which is what the bus was all about.
It is not hostility Kargil demonstrated not just a physical aggression by the armed forces of Pakistan, following as it did upon Lahore, above all it demonstrated a transgression upon the territory of trust.
The physical aggression was vacated, as it invariably would be by any self-respecting nation. How do you regain that territory of trust, its not hostility, its an attempt to slowly regain trust between the two countries, Jaswant Singh said.
Asked who would take the
first step towards rebuilding that trust, to put the bus
back from Kargil to Lahore, Jaswant Singh replied that
the bus incidentally continued to ply.
AN Associated Press telegram, dated Peshawar, the 19th January, states: It is understood that the Hindus and Muhammadans of Kohat have signed an agreement this evening. The message is as laconic as it could possibly have been.
So much has been said
and written about the attempts to arrive at a settlement
of the Kohat question, and so many conflicting reports
have been received during the last few weeks about the
results of official efforts in that direction, that it is
not safe to pronounce any opinion on the present report
without knowing more about the alleged settlement. Every
peace-loving and patriotic person wants a speedy and
satisfactory settlement of this vexed question, and we
hope with all our heart that the latest report may prove
correct; but everything depends on whether the reported
settlement has been reached between the real
representatives of the Hindus and the Mussalmans and
whether the terms of settlement are satisfactory and just
to both the communities. We anxiously await further
details on both these points.
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