|Saturday, February 5, 2000,
OF A MILLENNIUM
has full right to retaliate
February 5, 1925
A reassuring verdict
THE recent judicial verdicts in the hawala case, involving senior politicians, and the Tansi land deal case, in which Ms Jayalalitha was the main accused, giving the benefit of the doubt to the suspects was seen as a blow to the national commitment to weed out the canker of corruption from the system. But some positive developments this week, which have a bearing on the issue which helped Mr V. P. Singh win the Lok Sabha election in 1989, carry a reassuring message for the anti-corruption lobby. One is the arrest of an income tax officer in Surat by the CBI on the charge of demanding a bribe of Rs 30,000 for the disposal of a complaint. The other is the registration of a case against Additional Commissioner of Delhi Police, Mr J. K. Sharma, for allegedly having amassed unaccounted assets worth Rs 1.17 crore. Police Commissioner Ajay Raj Sharma was only stating the obvious when he said that the incident was yet another blow to the image of the Delhi Police, specially since the person in question was a senior officer. But the best news of the week was the Supreme Court verdict on Thursday ordering the Madhya Pradesh government to reopen cases of corruption against three excise department officers. Proceedings against the three officers were quashed by the Madhya Pradesh High Court. However, for the average citizen the order was as important as the clarity with which Justice K.T. Thomas and Justice R.P. Sethi laid down the ground rules for trying cases of corruption by the subordinate courts. In the light of recent instances of the lower courts giving primacy to the letter of the law rather than its spirit the full text of verdict should be made compulsory reading at least for deciding cases of corruption against politicians and public servants.
The apex court asserted
that the overall public interest and social object
is required to be kept in mind while interpreting various
provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The
two-judge Bench while ordering the prosecution of three
Madhya Pradesh excise officers for allegedly amassing
wealth beyond their known sources of income expressed
legitimate fear that the socio-economic-political
system itself would collapse if acts of corruption
were allowed to go unpunished. It was in this context
that the apex court felt the need to explain its position
on public interest and social
object for interpreting the provisions of the
Prevention of Corruption Act. While dealing with the high
courts power in quashing a first information report
under section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and
the objective behind the enactment of the Act for
combating instances of corruption the court did well to
explain the consequences of unpunished acts of
corruption on an otherwise healthy and vibrant
society. The judges gave judicial legitimacy to the
popular perception that corruption in a civilised
society is like cancer which has the potential to
cause irreversible damage to even the healthy parts of
the body if it is not detected in time and removed from
the system. The apex court did well to explain the
genesis of the Prevention of Corruption Act. It said that
the menace of corruption was found to have
enormously increased because of the conditions
created by the two world wars. At the initial stages,
corruption was confined to a section of the bureaucracy.
But soon the corrupt created a chain of command to ensure
that no squealed against anyone by subscribing to the
doctrine of equal guilt. In short, it was the
acute scarcity of goods and services and the huge amounts
of money placed in the hands of civil servants for
repairing the damage caused by the wars which
actually sowed the seeds of corruption. Going by the
logic of the apex courts interpretation of the
factors responsible for breeding corruption in an
otherwise healthy and vibrant society the
state may have to step up its level of vigilance for
ruthless and timely action against acts of corruption in
a globalised economy in which money is expected to flow
like water. Otherwise, the apex courts words may
come true that corruption is like the plague
which spreads like the jungle fire if preventive action
is not taken promptly for curing the disease and
destroying the source of the malady.
Celebration of sabotage
PAKISTAN has been observing Kashmir (Sabotage?) Day almost daily since the hour of its ignominy in the valley and the plains in its first war against India. This day symbolises the failure of the two-nation theory and the naive propaganda that aggression will ultimately succeed in destroying Kashmiriyat. February 5 has no sanctity either from the historical point of view or from the political angle. It is a day dedicated to militarism, violence, defeat and Jinnahs hate-India policy. Following the negative pattern created by his predecessors civil as well as military in the supreme seat of power, Chief Executive General Pervez Musharraf has given a holiday to his nations conscience today. His Cabinet has passed a resolution promising to show full solidarity with the valiant people of Kashmir struggling for their right to self-determination. General Musharraf, along with other members of the Cabinet and the National Security Council, has promised to donate one days salary, perhaps, for the welfare of the victims of the continuing proxy war and those who have perished in the struggle for the protection of the state of Jammu and Kashmir! The fruits of such a pious act of imdad and financial sacrifice should not go to the Inter-Services Intelligence for the purchase of guns to kill more Kashmiris. Allah is watching! The bluff of the military ruler should be called by the Pakistani people themselves.
On Indias part,
any peaceful Kashmir Day will be welcome. We have too
much to mourn the neighbours defeat in the
battle of Kargil, the recent casualties of Pakistani
soldiers on the Indian side of the Line of Control in the
Jammu region and, of course, the consequences of the
depleted economy and the erosion of Islamic values in a
society intended to stay Pak! One hopes that
the designated day and the holiday would not be marked by
boasts about and quarrels for the nuclear button in the
scheduled meeting of the National Command Authority
(NCA). It is an appropriate day for Allamas and Maulanas
to keep their cool and not to be worried like Masood
Azhar, the fugitive, whose databank has informed them
that 320 million Indians alone are starving! Many more
Pakistanis are sleepless, hungry and angry while Masood
Azhar is relaxing after dining with the Devil in his
post-nuptial euphoria. There is a way for us to help
Pakistan in its cerebration! The representatives of
the Dogras, the Buddhists, the Pandits and others
should consult their wise elders in Delhi and elsewhere
before making a demand for the division of the state into
four parts. Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah is politically
disowning his father, the respected Sheikh, by
favouring the restoration of the pre-1953
autonomous status to the composite state. The Chief
Minister cannot afford to hide behind the barricades of
power when his failures on almost every front are
becoming more glaring with every passing day. He should
celebrate his own Kashmir Day and begin to live
courageously for preserving the sovereignty of India.
IT is believed, rightly so, that percussion instruments can talk. When the tabla came at the hands of Ustad Alla Rakha Khan, who died on Thursday at the age of 81, it not only talked but also sang, cried and laughed. Such was the mastery of the man whose name became almost synonymous with the instrument for a period which lasted more than 60 years. It was he who more than anybody else established the tabla, credited to Amir Khusro, as a solo classical music instrument. And more than that, "Abbaji" cleansed it of the stigma of the kothas and popularised it worldwide. On the one hand, he preserved the purity of the Punjab gharana and on the other, delighted millions of his fans with his pulsating improvisations while weaving a magic imagery. Those who have had the privilege of savouring the "jugalbandi" of Ustad Alla Rakha Khan with sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar or shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan and his "sawal" and "jawab" with sarangi greats like Ustad Sultan Khan cherish those minutes as the high-water mark of their life. What is remarkable is that he was born and brought up in a family of farmers and soldiers, not musicians. The President has aptly said that "an uncommon pulsation has been stilled". However, it is lamentable that an artiste of his calibre was honoured only with Padma Shree while those blessed with less talent were given higher awards. That is why a man of the stature of Ustad Amjad Ali Khan had to comment that for the government he may have been only a Padma Shree but for us (meaning the musical community) he was a Bharat Ratna. "Tabla is the only language I know," said the master of the genre. Perhaps that is why he did not understand the language of networking.
His commitment to music
can be gauged from the fact that he gave his last
performance just four days before breathing his last, at
the 70th birthday celebrations of vocalist Pandit Jasraj
in Shanmukhananda Hall. His physical death means the
falling of one of the last pillars of an era which
witnessed classical music moving away from darbars and
"conferences" to metropolitan and urban halls.
But men of his caliber never really die. They live on for
all times to come through their recordings and their
memories. Ustad Alla Rakha Khan made himself even more
immortal through the training institute that he
established. His shagirds will surely carry the knowledge
that he gave them far and wide. His death occurred
because of the shock caused due to the death of his
daughter. But as a father, he must have been proud that
three of his sons, Zakir Hussain, Fazal Quershi and
Taufiq Quershi, are proving to be worthy of his name.
Ustad Zakir Hussain Khan has been particularly
acknowledged as a tabla wizard throughout the world.
HORRORS OF A MILLENNIUM
THE millennium just ended has been one of shame for the nation even though the 20th century in ways more than one was kind to India. Indian civilisation is one of the oldest on this earth. It is woven around the Hindu way of life. The Indian way of life of tolerance and fatalistic belief in destiny even today transcends all religious barriers. Whatever religious belief an Indian may profess today, in his way of life i.e. culturally he becomes part of the mainstream when accepting the concept of kismet and destiny. It was for this reason that Jawaharlal Nehru called Hinduism as more a way of life than a religion.
From the earliest of the recorded times Indians have lived at peace with the rest of the world. Indias way of life though spread all over Asia and ever farther afield never forced itself on other people. At home the subcontinent was a protected landmass surrounded by oceans, the mighty Himalayas and the Hindukush ranges. Even as Alexander became the first invader to disturb the peace and tranquility of a flourishing civilisation, he did not seek to convert the way of life. He came; he saw, conquered and returned.
What was it that went wrong with such a rich civilisation that it failed to meet the challenge of invaders and their violent attempts to disturb the way of life of the people? How did such a rich civilisation that gave to the world its first treatise on statecraft the Arthashastra could not withstand the invasions from Ghazni or Central Asia?
Was it the failure of those interpreting the societal norms? Or was it a failure of the civilisation to cope with the challenge of norms set by these invaders? Or was it the class, nay, the caste barriers an integral part of Hindu way of life that became its own undoing? These and many more questions stare us in the face if India is not to squander the great gains it has made in the 20th century.
India has entered the 21st century as the largest single political entity in its history. She means to do well for herself and her people without any ambition to trample upon any other nation. She is yet to consolidate the gains of the 20th century and use them in a meaningful way to benefit her people. However, one cannot close ones eyes to the fact that she still continues to struggle against the forces of violence and hatred as released by the struggles of the millennium gone by. She is not at peace with herself.
When British India was partitioned in 1947 to create two sovereign states to resolve the dispute of homeland for the Muslims, instead of solving a problem the violence suddenly reached its peak. The Indian subcontinent became witness to the greatest movement of people in history. Several millions moved away to the new homeland created for Muslims, the state of Pakistan, just as equally several millions took refuge in India. The totality of this movement by the millions was to protect their faith and way of life.
The violence perpetrated in 1947 still continues to haunt many. It is not just the violence of 1947 the tales of earlier invasions and resultant brutalisation of people has continued to hurt the psyche of the inhabitants of the subcontinent. The violence suffered by Indias people beginning with the attacks by Mahmud of Ghazni haunted them, through the generations. It wasnt just the violence of a barbaric invasion that could not be forgotten. The invaders carried back with them not just gold and valuables, but men, women and children as slaves. Families lay traumatised. Hatred was thus passed on. It is this hatred and historic pains that need to be addressed.
When Qutb-ud- Din set up the first Muslim dynasty in Delhi, his very first act was to set up Indias first mosque by pulling down the superb temples that existed at its place once. What kind of hatred he must have generated at the time and how it has been carried forward by the succeeding generations of those who suffered. Any visit to Qutub Minar in Delhi tends to remind the visitors of the kind of holocaust that must have taken place when the temples were pulled down. The columns of the temples with figures etched out still stand as testimony to the act. This is not an attempt to open old wounds, but to find a solution that one needs to understand the issue of national reconciliation in its historic perspective.
Guru Nanak born in 1469 came at a time when the people of North India had all but lost faith in themselves and their ability to fight tyranny and forced conversions. His was a message that sought not only to give strength and courage to the oppressed, but sought to show light to the tyrants as well. Succeeding Gurus tried to bring reconciliation and humanity in an era known only for brutalisation of the people. The rulers sought to create an Islamic nation by conversions and torture of the people. In such an era, the Gurus waged the greatest ever known fight for human rights.
What was the response of the authorities then? The message that the Gurus were conveying was one of humanity and justice for the oppressed. The prosperity of the Moghul empire was based on high taxation of the peasantry. Corruption was as rampant then as it is today. The revenue officials then collected as much for themselves as they did for the Moghul ruler. In 1598 Guru Arjan Dev interceded with Akbar on behalf of peasants. Following Akbar, Jehangir saw to it that the Guru was brutally tortured and executed in Lahore.
The Gurus, their families and disciples suffered the kind of torture that history has rarely seen. Guru Hargobind was imprisoned and tortured in the Gwalior Fort for 12 years. Gurdwara Sisganj in Chandni Chowk lies only at a stones throw from Red Fort from where orders were issued to torture and behead Guru Tegh Bahadur together with his disciples.
The people have suffered all this and more. In all this the religious leaders of those who tried to force their faith on an unwilling populace, perhaps further fanned the fires of hatred. To them it was important that kafirs (non-believers) were taught a lesson. They could be compared to the Islamic fundamentalist terrorist of today set out to carry forward the Islamic revolution by using violence.
Is this the reality that Indias thinkers, Indias leaders and opinion makers must face today? Yes, to move forward the country needs national reconciliation for all the acts of barbarism in the millennium gone by. It is important for India to achieve unity and cohesion as a nation to move forward. The founding fathers gave the country a secular constitution as the foundation on which to build the nation. They expected that document itself to become the binding force and an instrument of reconciliation for its people. The forces of hatred that caused deep fissures among the people through the last millennium continue to thrive even today. Culturally India is one, though a multireligious society now. Have the religions or their leaders learned to live in peace with each other?
The talk of conversions, the talk of kafirs, the madness of terrorism is all around us today. It is time to bring home the fact that this country is secular and ruled according to the constitution it adopted. That there is no place for religious bigotry in such a secular state.
Those who block proceedings of Parliament each year or demonstrate on the anniversary of the pulling down of what was known as Babri mosque though not in use, should apply themselves and find ways and means to achieve national reconciliation. It should be acknowledged that no two wrongs could make one right. They only compound the initial wrong.
It is all very well to block the proceedings of Parliament and seek an apology for what happened in Ayodhya. Isnt this also time to apologise for all those hundreds of thousands who were taken away from India as infidel slaves? Isnt this also time to apologise for the manner in which women were forced to burn themselves to save their honour from the conquering marauders? Isnt this time that someone apologised for the manner in which the Sikh Gurus and their families were tortured? Isnt this time that someone applied his mind to getting the Kashmiri Pandits back to their homes and apologise for what has been done to them in the name of religion?
Then, what about the barbaric anti-Sikh riots of 1984 that followed the assassination of Indira Gandhi? Or the thoughtlessness of Operation Bluestar. This author still gets nightmares remembering the cries and wailing of the widows of the victims. The murderers of thousands still roam at large unpunished! All these incidents form part of the horrors of the millennium gone by.
There can be no end to the numbers of apologies required for what the people have suffered. The only apology thus can be a resolve to move forward together as Indians bound together by one constitution that governs us all. History has already dealt with the tyrants. The great Moghul Red Fort is only a massive ruin today whereas the spot where Guru Tegh Bahadur was beheaded is a place of pilgrimage visited by several million each year. He continues to inspire those who fight injustice and tyranny.
When reason and fairplay failed to seek justice for the oppressed, Guru Gobind Singh created the Khalsa. That was a fitting reply to the tyrants who mocked at the non-violent nature of their subject people. It remains a fact that since the creation of Khalsa no invader from the North has been able to stay here or not go back without a bloody nose. All this is recounted from history to only bring out that tyranny may have forced large-scale conversions, but it failed to curb the peoples determination to protect their ancient culture and way of life.
India is going to have its hands full fighting the terrorism being sent in, strangely once again from across its borders in the North. It is not something that is going to get over quickly. The forces at play have a much bigger objective.
The challenge is not just only to India, but also to the USA and Israel. Those who are dug in and hiding in Afghanistan seem to have unlimited resources. Kashmir is only an excuse for them to confuse and confound the world opinion. It also helps to keep in check the so-called liberal elements of Pakistan.
The battle for India is within. That battle is for national reconciliation. Each community needs to say sorry for its misdeeds to the other. Be it pulling down of the Babri mosque or the temples at Qutub, both were ghastly acts. The nation needs to forget them as the horrible nightmares of the millennium gone by.
That battle now is for
reaffirmation of faith in Indias Constitution. That
battle is to forget about the apologies owed to each
other. That battle is to unite as one and rise to serve
Bharat Mata. The time has come to put all the
gains of 20th century, which from all counts has been
Indias best of the millennium, to use in such a way
as to make the 21st century still greater in tackling the
problem of poverty. Let all Indians begin the 21st
century as one people dedicated to the cause of
protecting and fighting for basic human rights everywhere
even in feudal Pakistan.
India has full right to
THE instant fallout from the treacherous act of the Indian Airlines Airbus hijack engineered by Islamabad and subsequent artful feigning of innocence, is the rightful toughening of New Delhis stance towards its bellicose western neighbour who has stubbornly been at loggerheads with India since its very inception in 1947. The partition of the undivided India was conceived in intense hatred of the secular majority by the Muslim League which subsequently gave birth to the new nation of Pakistan amid the labour pains of mayhem and bloodshed having a few parallels in the entire history of mankind. That the successive generations of the Pakistani leadership are consistently hell-bent to carry on with the vicious revengeful agenda of pre-independence era is obvious from the repeated Indian pleas for confidence building measures (CBMs) which have been falling on deaf ears. Since the hands of genuine friendship warmly extended on several occasions during the last 53 years of our freedom, latest being exactly one year back in Lahore, have always been spurned, there is no alternative left for the Indian policy makers but to start paying back in the same coin.
In this context, a national seminar on The challenges of limited war: Parameters and options organised in the first week of January, 2000, in the aftermath of the dreadful hijack incident by the Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA), an official think tank of the government of India and appropriately inaugurated by Defence Minister George Fernandes assumes importance. This politico-military exercise of weighing the hard options to finally bail out India from the clutches of proxy war must send a strong signal across the border which has lately become the breeding ground for international terrorism with the active connivance of the state.
Mr Fernandes did well to refute the popular fallacy held by the military junta in Islamabad that its recently acquired nuclear umbrella will discourage the rulers in New Delhi to launch a conventional armed retaliation to the decade long savage proxy war being waged by Pakistans Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) in collaboration with its army on the Indian soil in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Defence Minister was emphatic in his enunciation that while possession of nuclear weaponry can deter only the use of nuclear weapons by the rival country, the field will all the time remain open for a conventional war. The strong assertion was in response to the self appointed Pakistani Chief Executive, General Musharrafs recent nuclear sabre rattling in which he had once again declared that Islamabad will resort to the use of nuclear weapons if it was threatened by India.
Gen VP Malik, Chief of Army Staff, subsequently in the same seminar lent operable military credence to the Defence Ministers political exposition by stating that future wars comprising the element of surprise may remain limited because of the credible deterrence. In his view, the constraint of not crossing the Line of Control (LoC) may not be applicable in a future war. The scope and conduct of a limited war would be governed by the end result desired by the side that precipitated the localised conflict. This is incidentally contrary to Gen Maliks reported assertion made in June, 1998, in which he had ruled out the possibility of war between India and Pakistan.
In the Indian context, any conflagration on the LoC or even the entire western frontier will be termed limited because of Indias large landmass and resources whereas for Pakistan because of its smaller size and narrow strategic depth, it will prove to be not only a total but a fatal war completely pushing it to the brink of deep abyss. There is a very strong possibility that the history of 1971 may repeat itself and consequently Pakistan may find itself dismembered once again unless it shakes itself off the bitter hate India syndrome and blind obsession with Jammu and Kashmir. The covert and overt hostile activities brazenly propped up from across the border have vitiated the atmosphere so much that the possibility of an armed conflict, albeit a limited one, cannot be totally ruled out in the changed hostile circumstances. The conflict can still take place irrespective of the international pressure and existence of nuclear deterrent on both sides who have recently exchanged the lists of their respective nuclear installations in accordance with an existing agreement not to attack each others atomic plants.
Here, it may not be out of place to mention that ignition of a limited state of war with India in the prevailing circumstances will suite General Musharraf and his coterie of generals as it will help them to hold on to the reigns of power for an indefinitely longer period by deflecting attention of the populace from the political void and utter economic chaos prevailing in Pakistan. In the strict sense of the word, Pakistan is already at war with India for the last one decade as sending of armed bands, groups irregulars or mercenaries to carry out acts of armed forces against another state is considered an act of aggression in terms of one of the existing UN General Assembly Resolution passed by the world body way back in 1974. Seen in this context, India will have full right to retaliate in self defence justifying the use of military force. This time, the Indian political and military leadership emboldened by successful operations in Kargil, will not hesitate to make forays beyond the LoC into the Pakistan held Kashmir and in doing so they will have unflinching support from the entire nation.
The term limited war is used for armed conflicts short of general all-out war involving overt engagement of military forces equipped with conventional weapons, which may also include joint operations by naval and air forces. The availability of nuclear weapons in the basement with both sides may restrict the limited wars fullfledged escalation. It is a war which is not only limited in terms of geography but also has clearly defined yet restricted objectives. Such a restrained action is certainly against the concept of the total military conflict in which the contenders are willing to make any sacrifice in lives and other resources to obtain a complete victory. The total war necessitates conscription or very large scale mobilisation of manpower and orientation of all organs of the state in the direction of the national war effort and hence will be out of question for India while dealing with the rightly termed rogue state of Pakistan on purely a military plane. Having placed our cards on the table by deliberating the pros and cons at a high-level seminar, the stage should now eventually be set for readiness and thorough operational preparedness by the Indian army for the sake of establishing everlasting peace in the subcontinent.
Clintons stellar performance
EVEN before I left Mumbai for the World Economic Forums annual meeting in Davos I heard that the high point of this years event was to be a visit by the American President. Indian businessmen in warm foreign suits gossiped about it at Mumbai airport with wives also dressed in clothes more suitable to winter in Switzerland. Its a real cup for Klaus, they said. He has been trying to get the American President to come for years and has so far only managed to get Hillary. The businessmen were regulars at the Davos meeting and knew that the World Economic Forums founder, Klaus Schwab, had succeeded in getting many Heads of State and government to attend his annual five-day meeting in this snow-covered Swiss resort but had never managed to persuade an American President. So, if Bill Clinton did indeed come it would be a coup of sorts.
On my first evening in Davos I attended a dinner given for the Indian delegation in a restaurant that specialised in fondue. For those unfamiliar with Swiss cuisine this is cheese which melts over a slow fire on your table which you eat by dipping small pieces of bread in it stuck at the end of a long, thin fork. You wash it down with wine, and not water, in case the cheese clogs up your arteries. Indian businessmen are usually vegetarian so fondue it always is at this first dinner of the annual meeting. Conversation, this year, was not about Indian politics as it usually is but about the prospective visit of the American President. He will not be spending the night in Davos, someone said, because he wanted 1200 rooms for his delegation and there were simply not that many rooms available in the whole of Davos so he will stay in Zurich. The dinner was attended by some of the biggest names in Indian industry; there were Godrejs, Bajajs galore and a Piramal or two and everyone seemed as excited about seeing Bill Clinton, in the flesh, as I was.
He was due on the third day of the meeting and the first two were spent in anticipation. The theme of this first annual meeting of the 21st century was New Beginnings: Making a Difference and, inevitably, most sessions were devoted to discussing globalisation and the knowledge revolution which we in India still have only the barest glimpse of since we continue, sadly, to live in a largely illiterate country. Only those with access to Internet (approximately 5 million) have an idea what e-commerce will mean and the problems this will create since in the words of Larry Summers, US Secretary of Treasury: Which country is cypberspace?
On the second day of the meeting I went cross-country skiing with Mario, a ski instructor who is also a legendary barman, and at some point we looked up and noticed in the blue skies over Davos an aeroplane accompanied by two fighters. It must be Clinton, Mario said, and it must be Clinton I agreed because which other Head of State in the world would travel in that kind of style. The anticipation became certainty. The American President was definitely coming.
On the morning that he was supposed to come it snowed in Davos. I went to the Congress Centre early with a friend who suggested that we would be wise to grab our seats early so that we did not miss getting into the hall as we had done the day before when Britains Tony Blair was the star attraction. We took our seats two hours before he was due to speak and the hall was nearly full already. Clearly, everyone had the same idea and excitement mounted palpably as the moment drew near.
Then, just before Mr Clinton was due to arrive an authoritative young man took the stage and requested everyone to empty the hall so that there could be a last-minute security check. This resulted in a small riot. Chief Executive Officers of some of the most powerful companies in the world and their elegant wives stood up and booed.
Were not leaving, said an American who had waited as long as we had. Its the bloody Secret Service at it again. They do these things to justify their jobs. We should simply refuse to leave and if the President doesnt want to make his speech he can do so. Whats he going to say anyway.... I did not have relations with that woman, whoever she was. There were lots of Americans in the hall and they protested louder than anyone else and made their dislike for their President more than apparent.
The authoritative young man tried again to get everyone to leave and again he was booed and jeered. Besides, there really was nowhere for anyone to go because the foyer outside the hall was full of people banging on the doors to get in. Since they refused to move it made our job easier and after 40 minutes of booing and jeering it was agreed that only the first five rows in the hall needed to be cleared. They filled up quickly with world leaders who included Yasser Arafat, Ehud Barak, Thabc Mbeki, the Prime Minister of Turkey and Spain and several senior members of the American Government.
No sooner was calm restored than a hush fell over the hall as the most powerful man on the planet quietly walked onto the stage. His presence had the most extraordinary effect. Suddenly, the very people who had been making rude remarks about Bill Clinton were the first to give him a standing ovation even before he spoke a single word. The women were particularly enthusiastic and some gasped over his aura. Cynics among the men said it had nothing to do with aura. Whatever it was it worked and there was such silence in that vast hall when Clinton made his speech that we could almost hear ourselves breathe.
Clinton spoke for nearly forty minutes about everything from globalisation to the environment and the need to remember that the poorest citizens in the world those who lived on less than a dollar a day were as much part of the process of globalisation as the worlds richest citizens.
It was a good speech but it was not what mattered, what mattered was the fact that we had actually seen Bill Clinton and so participated, in our own small way, in a moment of history. What can I tell you about him? He looks younger in real life than on television. He has oodles of that mysterious thing we call charisma and he is far more intelligent than you expect him to be.
He also has a sense of
humour everyone laughed too eagerly at his jokes
and he understands the importance of the common
touch. Afterwards, it was not the rich and famous he
sought out but ordinary members of the staff of the World
Economic Forum. He made it a point to leave through the
kitchens where he shook hands with people who would never
have dreamed of getting that close to the most powerful
man in the world. It was a stellar performance.
Banning Pakistani overflights
UNDER international laws governing terrorism and disruption of civil aviation, the onus of bringing to trial Maulana Masood Azhar, the terrorist who benefited directly from the hijacking of Indian Airlines flight IC-814 lies with Pakistan.
The government can force Islamabad to abide by international laws and conventions or face the consequence of a ban on overflights by Pakistani civil aircraft.
Pakistan is already trying Sharif and his accomplices for having conspired to hijack PIA plane in which Musharraf was travelling on October 12. Under international laws and conventions, an accomplice is culpable and Maulana Masood Azhars actions, both before and after the hijacking, have abetted terrorism. The laws of both India and Pakistan prescribe punishment for abetment.
The Hague Convention also prescribes that the contracting parties in the territory of which alleged offender is found shall, if it does not extradite him, be obliged without exception whatsoever and whether or not the offence was committed in its territory, to submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution.....
It is no secret that Maulana Masood Azhar is in Pakistan (has just married in his home town Bahawalpur) and is travelling around the country under state protection. It is also no secret that it was Maulana Masood Azhars brother who master-minded the December hijacking to help secure his release from an Indian jail.
The government has tried to move Washington to declare Pakistan a terrorist state but to no avail. It is, therefore, incumbent on it that, in order not to let the psychology of terrorism prevail, it must initiate suo motu action to protect its national interests. Indias national interest can best be served by banning overflights by Pakistans civil aircraft.
Any eastwards flight of Pakistan aircraft will have to take the longer route over Tibet or the circuitous route via Colombo. Over a period of time the people of Pakistan will begin to wonder why they must pay the price for the Maulanas personal campaign of terrorism and their military governments acquiescence and encouragement to it.
Retaliatory action by Pakistan will not be effective because Indian aircraft can travel westwards with Iran being the first stop towards the Central Asian republics and beyond.
Failure to take action according to international laws will confirm the perception in terrorists minds that India is a soft state and that it can be attacked with impunity.
The government will be well with in international law if it treats Maulana Masood Azhar as an accomplice or abettor and inflict on Pakistan condign punishment for harbouring, encouraging and abetting his actions.
Pakistan is using the Maulana to hike tension over Kashmir with an eye to President Bill Clintons forthcoming visit to the subcontinent. It seems to feel that this posture will bring it political dividends in the form of greater US involvement in the prevention of nuclear confrontation over Kashmir.
The Union Government has already been snubbed by President Clinton over the issue of declaring Pakistan a terrorist state. New Delhis hopes of securing the lifting of sanctions on high technology equipment also will meet the same fate. Evidence of this comes from the Belgian Government which, as a member of NATO, is toeing the line prescribed under the Wassanar Arrangement by which developed nations will refuse access to dual-use technologies to countries like India which do not subscribe to discriminatory regimes like the NPT, the CTBT, the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), etc.
In the light of recent
developments if Pakistan does not take action against the
Maulana, the government will be remiss if it does not do
what is necessary to prevent the continuing assault on
national sovereignty and territorial integrity
Asia Defence News International
WE offer our sincere congratulations to the Legislative Assembly on the result of the debate on the Bengal Ordinance. The debate itself appears to have been poor, though Pandit Moti Lal Nehru made a very forceful speech. But the division showed that the heart of the Assembly was in the right place. Not only was the Government defeated by a substantial majority, but the minority did not include one single non-official occupying an outstanding position in our public life.
The few Indians who voted with the Government were either official or habitual supporters of the Government. The majority, on the other hand, not only included the Swarajists as a body and all the Independents but such Liberal stalwarts as Sri Sivaswami Iyer and Mr Ramachandra Rao.
It was, indeed, fully
representative of all shades of independent public
opinion and of all communities. If the Reforms have any
meaning and any reality, and if the Viceroy and the Duke
of Connaught, when they declared that as the result of
the Reforms autocracy had disappeared, meant what they
said, then after such a debate, the Viceory ought not to
hesitate one moment to cancel the Ordinance.
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