|Thursday, February 17, 2000,
in population policy
memories of Lahore
bent on hiking tension
Gaps in population policy
INCREASINGLY population packs a greater destructive power than what Pakistan can cause by hurling a few nuclear bomblets. That is because it is concentrated at the bottom of the social and economic pyramid covering three-fourths of the population. The failure to control the exploding numbers is the most damaging of all failures. What the country needed was a radical review of the old policies, alertness to deploy all available instruments and establish enduring contacts with the target segment in rural India. Sadly these are missing in the new National Population Policy unveiled on Tuesday. The document still pins its hopes on a few tired incentives and shapeless promises to rein in population the growth. Such sops will be available only after the event that is, after individuals or couples take themselves out of the reproduction cycle. Actually, the concentration should have been on goading people to enter the charmed circle. Offering free health insurance to couples below the poverty line, who opt for permanent birth control after two children, is a fancy idea but pointless in the contest of grinding poverty, blinding ignorance and total absence of a system to reach out to such people. Promise of cash award to panchayats and zila parishads for producing outstanding results displays a lack of awareness of the rural reality. There is a suspicion that the policy was hurriedly put together to coincide with the ongoing international conference on population right there in the Capital. Otherwise, how to explain the absence of any of the sterling ideas developed by experts like Prof Ashish Bose? Education is the single most effective channel to spread the family planning message. And there is only a casual mention of schools in the policy. Wherever female literacy is high, the birth rate falls dramatically and the reverse is also true. For instance, Tamil Nadu has more than 50 per cent female literacy and its population increase in the decade of the eighties was just under 15 per cent. The corresponding figures for UP and Bihar are 26 and 23 per cent (literacy) and 25 per cent and 24 per cent (population growth). If for nothing else, to stabilise the population at the highly bloated level, primary education should become universal and compulsory to cover nearly half the people who are still living in an earlier century.
The policy ignores what
Prof Bose calls the rural logic. A child is not a burden
but a source of augmenting family income. Tradition has
the sanctity of divine law and tradition enjoins on
couple to produce more. The rural poor are alienated from
the government and suspect its motives. The policy should
focus on these areas and launch a frontal attack. Is the
government aware that there has come about tight caste
mobilisation in the two most backward states? This is a
dangerous political development alright but can be
harnessed to first take education to the very poor and
then let family planning ride piggyback. A caste leader
enjoys the implicit trust of the people and can be an
effective agent to carry constructive messages. It is
worth tapping for this purpose, instead of mechanically
bemoaning the new caste division. There is no mention of
unleashing the awesome power of television channels to
advance the small family norm. At present there is one
promotional film and it smacks of urban middle class
bias. If the government were serious, even private
channels will jump into the campaign. A rapid growth of
population is always a negative development but at this
point of time, it is also explosive. It is the very poor,
very deprived, very backward whose number is increasing.
They are the abandoned children of a lesser God and as
Bihar shows, they might decide to come out of it
themselves and in their own way and that would be a
The mentally ill convict
THE National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has done well to direct the state governments once again to ensure that "mentally ill persons are not kept in jail under any circumstances". The chairperson of the commission, Justice J.S. Verma, has gone a step ahead by saying: "... The state governments should make all arrangements for their treatment at approved mental institutions. One must not treat them as unwanted human beings". Justice Verma's directives are based on jail inspections made by his officials. His view is sound and his dispensation holistic. But looking at the goings-on in jails and mental hospitals, one would like him to be appreciative of the ground realities because the gaps between the ideal and the practical are wide in every field in our country. The avowed object of the law of the land is to make the convict a useful citizen through a reformative process. The Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners approved by the first United Nations Congress on the Treatment of Offenders at Geneva in 1955 said in part: "The prisoners should be accorded the respect due to their dignity as human beings". This concept has become the core of the thinking of the human rights organisations. The Prison Commissioners had said that "the idea is not to make prisons pleasant but to construct a system of training such as will make fit the prisoner to enter the world as a citizen". For achieving this goal, the convict's personality has to be viewed in its totality. Special attention has to be paid to his physical and mental health.
The relevant laws and
the jail code concerning prisoners with unsound mind
created five categories: (i) those who had not committed
a crime but were mentally ill just lunatics; (ii)
persons accused of committing a crime and supposed to be
of unsound mind, needing medical supervision; (iii) such
men or women as were incapable of making their defence
owing to the unsoundness of mind; (iv) those who were
acquitted on the ground of being insane and (v) prisoners
who became insane after their conviction and admission
into jail. Thus, two broad classes emerged: non-criminal
lunatics and criminal lunatics. The Inspectors-General of
Prisons had wide powers and discretion in the matter of
dealing with the "lunatic prisoners" over the
decades. From the first IGP appointed in 1844 following
Lord Macaulay's efforts in 1835 to Dr Kiran Bedi of our
times, nobody has twisted Acts and rules to the detriment
of the mentally ill prisoners! Even according to the
Indian Lunacy Act of 1912, the mentally unsound convict
was entitled to prompt psychiatric treatment. The Mental
Health Act, 1987, which came into force in April, 1993,
does not permit the lodging of mentally ill persons in
jail. In fact, in 1996, the then chairperson of the NHRC,
Justice Ranganath Mishra, allowed compensation to the
mentally challenged found in prisons. So, there is little
new in the recent directives. The politicised and
brutalised system gives the mafia the freedom of keeping
the real or the pretending "mentally ill
prisoners" in or out of jail or mental hospitals.
Money and manipulative tactics decide where the
"non-criminal lunatics" or the "criminal
lunatics" should be lodged or how they should be
treated. We welcome the reiteratory view of Justice Verma
and hope that his commission will some day have ample
powers to bring to justice all the state authorities
which flout his directives.
BR banner flies high
TO say that B. R. Chopra deserved the Dada Saheb Phalke Award for lifetime contribution to Indian cinema is to state the obvious. He belongs to the generation of film-makers who gave shape and substance to mainstream cinema without compromising on the social relevance of the themes. Perhaps it was destiny that made Chopra continue with a profession about which he had acquired limited knowledge as a film journalist in 1938. After his first film "Karvat" bombed at the box office he prepared himself to resume his career as a journalist. His uncle Durgadas, who was then Editor of The Hindustan Times, persuaded Chopra to give film-making another shot. His second film "Afsana" proved to be a box office success and the Indian film industry found in the young director a man of vision and zeal. Throughout his career the latest member of the Dada Saheb Phalke Club has refused to be swayed by popular trends introduced by B grade film-makers in the name of increasing the mass appeal of the medium. If anything, he has always been way ahead of his times in selecting themes which less talented film-makers were diffident to handle. For instance "Dhool Ka Phool" was, perhaps, the first film to forcefully question the stigma attached to children born outside of wedlock. In "Naya Daur" the socialist in him raised relevant questions about the fate of those whose livelihood is affected by the introduction of new technology. The issue is as valid today in the context of the sweeping technology-driven economic changes taking place all around as it was when Chopra, for the sake of mass appeal, made the traditional horse-driven tonga beat a passenger bus in a contrived race in "Naya Daur". In "Kanoon" he exposed the flaws in the legal system and in "Insaaf Ka Tarazu" he handled with great finesse the difficult subject of the trauma of a rape victim which is further accentuated by flawed social responses and the inability of the law in getting her justice.
His transition from
cinema to television was equally successful with
"Mahabharat" outstripping all the other serials
on the popularity chart with a viewership of 96 per cent
- the highest ever for any television show across the
globe. A little-known story associated with the making of
"Mahabharat" is that he was advised by friends
not to let the script of the Hindu epic be handled by a
Muslim. Chopra was furious and insisted that the script
and dialogues would be written by Rahi Masoom Raza. The
serial went on to make television history. Chopra did not
include Rahi Masoom Raza in his "Mahabharat"
team to prove his secular credentials. His commitment to
secular values is adequately reflected in most of his
films although "Dharmaputra" dealt exclusively
with the Hindu-Muslim issue in post-Partition India. At
85 age may have slowed down his gait but it has not
dimmed his passion for making films. He was helped to the
dais to receive the award at a function in Delhi on
Tuesday. But the moment his back pain gets better he has
promised to get down to giving shape to at least one of
the two scripts he has selected for the famous BR banner.
One deals with corruption in high places while the other
is a delicate love story. His handling of the theme of
corruption should be of special interest to cinegoers as
also to those who are looking for effective answers for
tackling the problem in real life.
MUCH-HYPED CLINTON VISIT
OVER a month before it is due to begin the much-hyped visit to this country by the President of the USA, Mr Bill Clinton, has begun to lose some of its shine. Nothing could have underscored this more vividly than Mr Atal Behari Vajpayees unusually sharp statement that India would not allow others to meddle in our bilateral relations and problems. He did not mention either America or Kashmir specifically, of course. But the meaning and context of the Prime Ministers significant declaration reportedly inserted at the last minute in a previously prepared speech for delivery to a conference of Overseas Indians were crystal clear.
It is no less obvious that Mr Vajpayees tone was affected by the provocation offered by the American side in a series of evidently orchestrated statements. The Secretary of State, Ms Madeleine Albright, the Defence Secretary, Mr William Cohen, and President Clinton himself, had made no bones about their belief or other conviction that they had a duty to mediate between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir issue. They were not particularly tactful in spelling out their reasons for disregarding Indias repeated pronouncements in public and private that Kashmir is a bilateral matter between this country and Pakistan and, therefore, New Delhi would not countenance any third party interference with it.
Ms Albright who, as a daughter of Joseph Korbel, Chairman of the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) in 1947-48, should have been better informed about Kashmir than she seems, was particularly abrasive. She described Kashmir as a fuse and a tinder-box and conjured up tediously trite visions of a nuclear flashpoint in South Asia. These and similar words were, unsurprisingly, music to Pakistani ears. The Foreign Minister in that countrys military regime, Mr Abdul Sattar, in fact, told his countrymen that Mr Clinton was likely to invite an India-Pakistan summit.
Even so, the Indian governments initial reaction to Washingtons mediatory ambitions even though Mr Clintons peace initiatives in Northern Ireland and West Asia are coming unstuck was mild and brief. The official spokesman of the Foreign Office merely stated that Indian policy was well known and remained unchanged. But on deeper reflection the Prime Minister apparently decided that the time had come for him to speak out. For this there appear to have been three main reasons.
First, Mr Vajpayee knew better than others that the country had reacted strongly to Americas intended moves of which it had given advance public notice. If the Congress party sent a high-level delegation to drive home the message that as on the CTBT so on the troubled Indo-US-Pak triangle the government appeared to be rather complacent, the message from the Sangh Parivar, too, was disturbing. Those who had called the compromise with the hijackers of the Indian Airlines plane an act of cowardice were critical also of what appeared to them a propensity to bend over backwards not to displease the USA and its President.
Secondly, even among the Prime Ministers close advisers there is a difference of opinion. Some of them reportedly feel that in the course of marathon parleys between the Foreign Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh, and the US Deputy Secretary of State, Mr Strobe Talbott, the Indian side is going too far to placate the sole superpower. This is considered inadvisable despite complete unanimity on the need for the maximum possible improvement in, and expansion of, India-America relations, provided this does not involve a sacrifice of essential Indian interests.
Thirdly, Mr Vajpayee is not unaware of some incipient stirrings within the Indian upper crust that can be dangerous. A small but influential section dazzled by the riches that close collaboration with the US A might bring has begun to argue that it might help if the USA acts as a facilitator rather than a mediator between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. This kind of pusillanimous attitude, combined with a tendency to be defensive about the Indian position on Kashmir is at least partly a result of ignorance about the Kashmir issue including Americas consistent history of partisanship towards Pakistan.
To be sure, both sides are bound to embark on damage-limitation. It is in the interest of both to ensure that Mr Clintons visit is a success. But what actually happens will depend on how sensitive the Americans are to Indias interests. Americas desire to widen the areas of cooperation with India in the economic fight is genuine and, therefore, welcome. However, it is not the only thing on the US Presidents mind. Non-proliferation remains a major issue. Nor will the Kashmir question, in the context of the regional security situation, go away. Ms Albright has been candid enough to tell the world that, in the absence of an understanding on these matters, nothing much should be expected from the Indian sojourn of Mr Clinton who is after all a lame-duck President.
For its part, this country should stop whining to Washington about Mr Clintons plan to make a brief halt in Pakistan, perhaps at Karachi or Lahore, for a few hours on his way back home. The destruction of democracy and assumption of power by Gen Pervez Musharraf have evidently made little difference to Mr Clintons policy of engagement with Pakistan regardless of who rules it. Obviously, sharp disapproval and induction of military junta by the USA is confirmed only to Myanmar. While New Delhi was right to point this out to Washington, to expect that the US President will give Pakistan a wide berth is unrealistic.
In the US capital, the Pentagon and the intelligence establishment are redolent of strong backers of Pakistan. They perceive it to be a useful ally in a part of the world swept by Islamic fundamentalism whose American stakes are high. As if this was not enough, General Musharraf has deployed both blackmail and blandishments to see to it that Mr Clinton does not skip Pakistan.
Acting with dexterity, General Musharraf is wielding against the USA a big stick. If Pakistan is humiliated, he has been warning all concerned, Islamic fundamentalists would reign supreme. And he has balanced this with a juicy carrot. Should Mr Clinton show due regard to Pakistan, he would sign the CTBT.
India had made it clear to the USA that there was no way New Delhi could sign the test ban treaty before Mr Clintons arrival at Indira Gandhi airport. However, in America hope had persisted that the Indian decision to sign on the dotted line would be announced during his talks with his hosts. This is turning out to be an illusion. American negotiators have been saying for some time that the CTBT is no longer a nuclear non-proliferation issue but an element in bilateral Indo-US relations. But this ploy does not work for the simple reason that a consensus on this crucial subject is missing because the ruling coalition had done precious little to build it.
In fact, since a Congress party delegation rushed to the Prime Ministers office after hearing reports that his government was inclined to comply with the American request, Mr Vajpayee has now put paid to these apprehensions. In any case, the US Senate having rejected the CTBT, there is no reason why this country should be expected to or even want to sign the treaty in a hurry.
The Prime Minister has
committed himself to a full debate (hopefully
not confined to the CTBT but covering the whole gamut of
nuclear policy, including the nuclear doctrine and the
command and control system) in Parliaments budget
session beginning on February 23. Ideally, the promised
nuclear debate, along with all that the K. Subrahmanyam
Committee on Kargil has said on the subject, should take
place before the budget is presented on February 29.
Failing that the discussion must take place before Mr
Clintons arrival by which time Parliament would
have adjourned for a month to let the budget be examined
by its relevant committees.
Containing fiscal deficit
THE fiscal deficit, resulting from governmental profligacy, has become a chronic malady of the Indian economy. The fiscal situation is difficult not only this year but has been so for the last two decades. With the general budget due on February 29, Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha has started talking about some very strong steps to contain the fiscal deficit.
If the Vajpayee government really intends to bite the bullet, an obvious strong step that recommends itself is the curtailment of the food and fertiliser subsidies by 50 per cent. Since these two subsidies are costing the exchequer Rs 24,000 crore annually, this would result in a saving of Rs 12,000 crore.
Take the food subsidy. The benefit of supply of subsidised foodgrains through the public distribution system is accruing mainly to the middle class and the well-to-do. Many of the poor in the cities, who constitute migrant labour, do not have ration cards. The poor living in far-flung rural areas have no access to reachable ration shops. The ration cards of all people with a monthly income above, say, Rs 4000 should be cancelled. Simultaneously, steps should be taken to make subsidised foodgrains available to the genuinely poor.
Take the fertiliser subsidy. The rationale behind this subsidy is obviously to give a boost to agriculture. But the country has now reached a stage of agricultural development where the better-off farmers no longer need the prop of subsidised fertilisers. There should be a system of two-tier pricing of fertilisers: a lower price for small and marginal farmers, and a higher one for rich farmers.
Another strong measure to reduce expenditure, which should also be popular with the public, would be to cut the bloated army of government babus. When the Fifth Pay Commission recommended substantial increases in the salaries of Central Government employees, it made it clear that the recommendation presupposed that simultaneously the administrative reforms proposed would be ushered in. A major reform proposed by the commission was that the strength of government employees should be reduced by 30 per cent in 10 years.
In one of the most despicable displays of pusillanimity in the annals of governance the Gujral government succumbed to the blackmail of the unions and doubled the salaries of employees. But as for the reforms, there was no sign of them. The result is that despite the hike in salaries, the administrative structure remains as inefficient and corruption-ridden as before. Even now it is not too late for the Central Government to introduce a policy of moratorium on recruitment, leaving unfilled the vacancies created by retirees, till the employees present strength of about 50 lakh is reduced by one-third.
It is difficult to talk about the fiscal deficit without reference to defence expenditure. Since it touches a patriotic cord among people, the subject of defence has been put on a pedestal, especially after Kargil. Nontheless, examining the possibility of a reduction in defence expenditure, without compromising the countrys security, should not be considered blasphemous. With a sanctioned strength of nearly 11 lakh (10,45,560 soldiers and 44,703 officers), India has the second largest standing army in the world. Pakistan is no match for India, although its per capita expenditure on defence is $ 28 compared to Indias $ 10. If the Indian Army were to be downsized by 50,000 soldiers, it would result in a saving of Rs 500 crore, which could be used for selective acquisitions and modernisation. Such a proposal was made by the Army itself two years ago.
Leaving aside these major areas of government expenditure, various other austerity measures can be taken which may not result in great economy but would have a symbolic value if the nation is to be called upon to tighten its belt.
Firstly, it does not behove the President of a poverty stricken country to live in a huge palace which is a vulgar anachronism 1.5 miles of corridors, 340 rooms, 227 columns, 35 loggias, 37 fountains! Mahatma Gandhi had wanted this colonial monstrosity to be used for some egalitarian purpose. President Narayanan should shift to a modest house, especially in view of his recent pro-poor speeches. So should Vice-President Krishan Kant, who has not added to his Gandhian credentials by having Rs 1.6 crore spent to beautify his sprawling bungalow.
Secondly, the Vajpayee government could save crores of rupees if it were to desist from the crude propaganda it does about its performance through a daily dose of full-page newspaper advertisements. Thirdly, ministerial and bureaucratic jaunts abroad should be reduced by at least half, and more responsibility entrusted to our ambassadors. Fourthly, misuse of official vehicles should be checked stringently.
The fiscal deficit for
1999-2000 is likely to be 5 per cent of the GDP against a
projected level of 4 per cent. The Kargil operations have
cost about Rs. 7000 crore, with the result that the
defence expenditure has reached Rs 42,000 crore. The
Orissa cyclone has resulted in an additional burden of Rs
5000 crore. On the other hand, the total revenue
collections are expected to fall short of the target of
Rs 1,73,000 crore by Rs 3000 crore. Further,
disinvestment in PSUs has yielded only Rs 1500 crore
against a target of Rs 10,000 crore.
War-time memories of Lahore
DURING World War II Lahore enjoyed vibrant locational and business advantage. Situated in the extreme North-West corner away from the Indian oceans it was considered a comparatively safe place and less vulnerable to enemy attack. Already major cities of Calcutta and Madras had been the victim of enemys (Japanese) aerial attack and people had fled to safer places and business in these cities had come to a standstill. The other two major port cities of Bombay and Karachi were also considered unsafe.
However, in the case of Lahore the situation was different. There was no fear of attack from the North. It also had a major cantonment where necessary precautions to meet such an eventuality had been taken.
Further, enjoying good infrastructure for industry and business, vast opportunities for rapid development of the city were there, thus turning the war period into the most prosperous time. Soon Lahore was enjoying unprecedented growth in industry, trade and business.
The city also received a large number of refugees from Burma, which had been occupied by the Japanese during the war and the Burmese Government itself was functioning from Simla. Besides, the city also had a large Bengalee refugee population who had left Calcutta after it was attacked. Around this time Bengal faced one of the worst famines in recent history and quite a few of these people had taken shelter in Lahore where they were well cared, fed and also had opportunities for employment.
Thus Lahore was known for its open-heart generosity and was always prepared to welcome those in distress.
A large number of British and American soldiers were stationed in Lahore. They found their stay in this cosmopolitan and multifaceted city thoroughly enjoyable where there were plenty of opportunities for their social life which they missed. So much, now being far away from their homeland.
I remember two interesting incidents. One was enacted outside the coffee house on the Mall which was a popular place with youngsters in particular who would hang around here for hours. One evening after taking coffee we had come out when the weather had suddenly worsened and it had grown very dark incidentally the city otherwise too observed total blackout during the war.
Two soldiers, possibly British, appeared on the scene and looking towards the sky started shouting excitedly, Boys! Thebe Nai! ..... Thebe Nai!.... They kept on repeating it and dashed away.
We were left nonplussed for we could not make out what they were saying in that peculiar, incomprehensible language. We had never heard of Thebe Nai! Soon, however, we were able to make out that they were just saying Terrible Night!
At another time some American soldiers had gone to a nearby village. It was hot and they were feeling miserable and looked forward to a cool swim. Soon they spotted the village pond and without caring dashed into it.
Soon one of them came out and began to dance around uneasily squeezing a particular spot on the hip. This drew the attention of the village boys who gathered around the soldier and one of them shouted with excitement: Joke Oye Joke!
Musharraf bent on hiking tension
GEN PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, the Pakistani military dictator, seems to be having a whale of a time even as suggestions abound that his time may be up and more hardline generals, like Gen Aziz or Gen Mahmood, may take over. If there be any truth to these suggestions Gen Musharraf does not show any sign of it really being so. For, during the short five months he has been the Chief Executive of the country, under the nominal presidency of Rafiq Tarar, the General has provided enough evidence that he is no dummy.
The dithering of the immediate post-coup days has given way to deft manipulation, both at the domestic and international levels. Domestically, he has been walking the politico-religious tightrope with the skill of a proven trapeze artiste, assuring the mullahs and the fundamentalists that his heart is in the right place and telling them that he cant be browbeaten by the Americans into crushing the Jehadis (read terrorists).
For ordinary Pakistanis he continues to harp on self-reliance accompanied by accountability (selective). The en masse sacking of the Chief Justice and 11 other Judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts might have caused concern among civil libertarians but the General can take comfort from the fact that he is not the first Pakistani dictator to do so.
At the international level, Gen Musharraf has been blowing hot and cold. He talks of peace but threatens war. He says he is tough on terrorists but refuses to act against them. He says terrorists in Kashmir are no terrorists; they are jehadis. He quotes Mr Bill Clinton against himself: alluding to the US Presidents reference in his annual State of the Union message to South Asia posing a grave danger to world peace, and argues that if that be so the Americans must involve themselves in resolving the core problem of Kashmir.
He uses the same argument to impress on the US President the absolute necessity for him (Clinton) to include Pakistan in his tour itinerary. Short of warning Mr Clinton against giving a skip to Pakistan during his visit to the sub-continent. Gen Musharraf makes it more than obvious that his country might, in the absence of a visit, be forced irretrievably into the arms of Islamist extremists. In the process he projects himself as the man who could stand in the way of a nuclear Pakistan going the Taliban way.
He pooh-poohs American concerns about Pakistan having become home to Islamist terrorists by accusing an India, unable to cope with homegrown insurgency in Kashmir, of spreading the canard that Pakistan is sponsoring terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. To this end he also assures the Americans, without promising anything, that he will try his influence with the Taliban on a matter close to American hearts: Osama bin Laden sheltered by the Taliban.
Going for him in this regard is Mr Clintons obsession with history, of being remembered more as a President who brought peace to the Balkans, West Asia, and Northern Ireland then, say, Iaffaire Monica Lewinsky. And Gen Musharraf, the tactician, had exactly this Clinton weakness in mind when he, earlier this week, referred to the US Presidents credentials as a man of peace and, therefore, a man who should make it his business to compel India to resolve its dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir. He does not say it so very explicitly, but leaves no one in any doubt about what he means: Clinton must mediate between the two countries.
Much as the Americans are concerned about the rise of Islamist terrorism it borders on paranoia Mr Clinton, the man whose presidency has now entered its final lap, wouldnt be loath to take the bait. He might find the prospect attractive enough even when his own State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency are suggesting Pakistans direct involvement in breeding terrorism. In the circumstances it is almost certain that Mr Bill Clinton will make a stopover, if not more, in Pakistan during his subcontinental journey.
For, Mr Clinton does also believe that isolation of Pakistan will not serve the long-term interests of his country. Besides, as the General has been repeating day in and day out, Pakistan has been a long-time strategic partner of the USA. The other factor that will weigh in favour of the visit is that not making it will place Pakistan even more firmly in the lap of the Chinese. The Americans are fearful of the prospect of Beijing completely plucking Pakistan out of the American area of influence. The USA may in the past have condoned Chinese active support to Pakistani nuclear and missile programme but to let go of a country of much strategic value appears to many Americans as unthinkable.
Mr Clinton also knows that India is not China. The Chinese, for instance, made Mr Clintons last visit to the country conditional on his not including visits to any other country a part of the itinerary. Mr Clinton had very much wanted to visit Japan on that occasion but had to yield to Chinese pressure. The Indians, on the other hand, have been bending over backwards to earn a visit by the American President, even a lame duck President.
We have over the years fallen in the trap of being equated with Pakistan. Even when we have appeared to be disapproving of any third party interference in our relations with Pakistan, our leadership had not been able to resist the temptation to make covert approaches to Washington. Kargil, which eventually proved to be the undoing of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, offers the best illustration of this. Never mind the gloss which the spin doctors of the Indian Government may have subsequently put on it.
Coming back to Gen Musharraf. His approach to India is ambivalent, even downright contradictory. He wants to hold a dialogue with India but harks back to the UN resolutions, conveniently forgetting whatever might have transpired between the two countries during the intervening years. He shares Pakistans collective amnesia over the UN resolutions as well. One of the pre-conditions of holding a plebiscite in the State then was total withdrawal of all Pakistani troops from the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
That was over 50 years ago and Pakistan chose to ignore this part of the resolution then. Why? Because it knew the verdict of the people would be against it, more so after the foretaste the Kashmiris were given by Pakistani invaders, immediately after the Partition of the sub-continent, of their capacity to massacre innocent people, rape their women, loot their property etc and for the most part their victims were local Kashmiri Muslims. Three wars and the Simla Accord later, Gen Musharraf has woken upto the existence of the UN resolutions.
And on February 5, he says I am aiming at the struggle for liberation of Kashmir. For the right of self-determination promised to the Kashmiris..... And according to the UN resolutions. The same day speaking on PTV he says I dont agree at all that (these)fighter groups are terrorists. The fight for self-determination has nothing to do with terrorism.... Mujahideen do not get involved in terrorist act. I know that for sure. Therefore, to equate them with terrorists is to be unfair to them. And in the same breath he speaks of Pakistans Kashmir policy being guided by the spirit of Jehad. And Jehad, as the head of the Lashkar-e-Toiba said the same day, means blind hatred of India.
He and his cohorts of the Mujahideen and Jamaat-e-Islami used the Kashmir day observance on February 5 to promise an even bloodier phase of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. Its no coincidence that reports from Islamabad should about the same time, have spoken of a meeting of senior commanders, taken by none other than Gen Musharraf himself, which decided to step up the insurgency in the coming weeks and letting it peak around the time Mr Clinton comes to the sub-continent. All that to convince the US President that the situation in the sub-continent is indeed explosive.
All these activities
would, of course, be protected by Gen Musharrafs
interpretation that Jehad is not terrorism.
One does not know the decorations Gen Musharraf has
received in his long and distinguished military career
but he surely deserves the highest for his capacity to
defend the indefensible. And, try to do so in such an
seemingly in offensive manner. Asia Defence News
YESTERDAY we published an account of the speech delivered by His Highness the Maharaja of Patiala in Delhi at a farewell banquet given to Colonel Minchin. His Highness is reported to have referred, among other things, to the Nabha-Patiala dispute. He is said to have stated that the Maharaja of Nabhas attitude in the case was extremely objectionable, that he disregarded wholesome advice and that an open enquiry would have led to much more serious humiliation and more disastrous consequences.
We wish that His Highness had avoided references of this type to his adversary who cannot obviously defend himself.
When the details of the
case are not published and the public have no means of
knowing all the facts, allusions of this kind from one
not unconcerned in the dispute are, to say the least of
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