Friday, May 19, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Dialogue with Pakistan

THIS refers to Mr Hari Jaisingh's "Frankly Speaking" column, "Dialogue with Pakistan", The Tribune, May 12. Rajaji said, "One cannot very successfully offer one's hand for a friendly shake with spiked nail gloves on", but in the context of changed circumstances of the post-Clinton visit, it is imperative for India to take the initiative with clear level-headed thinking and moral courage and go in for a summit meeting at the earliest. Time is in our favour and it is already late. Any further delay will only jeopardise the chances of success.

The writer's wise counsel deserves to be repeated here, "At the root, however, is the problem of mindset. Unless the leadership tries to learn from the 52 years of turbulence in bilateral ties and recast its thinking in a new mould of global realities and the common man's expectations for better living conditions, history will go on repeating itself in the subcontinent".

  At the moment, I perceive, we are at the same level of predicament as we were on the eve of the Tashkent submit in the post-1965 war era. Rajaji's wise advice then to Lal Bahadur Shastri is relevant even today equally and aptly. I quote it here, "Shri Lal Bahadur realises and will keep in mind the great opportunity he has and the power he commands for doing lasting good to India as well as Pakistan. He should not let his mind be encased by a defensive shell of suspicion. He would do well to throw caution to the winds of God and talk from his heart. I need not remind him that this is the true way of drawing out the good in others....

We must deal with the pressures as best we can, and I may add, as quickly as we can. Time is a great factor for good or ill. Unless we quickly forge friendship between India and Pakistan we both face economic ruin and all its consequences. The issues before India and Pakistan are urgent and most important. We cannot wait for things to happen by themselves. What we desire is a great result, and for a great result we must make our efforts greatly and not drift. I have given my opinion and I see no other way. Drift will bring about the end of democracy in South Asia. Not only the end of democracy but probably the end of law and order, the disappearance of all mutual help in both Pakistan and India.

Lieut-Col DALIP SINGH (retd)

“HATE-INDIA” DRIVE: While General Musharraf has been making peace overtures his officially sponsored "hate-India" campaign goes unabated. India has experienced so many times the Pakistani rulers' duplicity and hostility.

They talk of pragmatic, economic and cultural relations and want to start cultural exchange programmes and initiate even a bus service between the two countries. But at the back of it all, they launch Kargil-like offensives and talk of fighting a 1000-year-war against India. In this hostile background, along with cross-border terrorism in Kashmir, can one work for better and stronger economic ties and a free socio-cultural interaction with Pakistan?

Despite our best intentions of maintaining peaceful and healthy relations with our neighbour, howsoever hostile it may be, one cannot ignore the ground realities in Pakistan.


GREAT OBSTACLES: Peace overtures of General Musharraf cannot be trusted, and militants will remain great obstacles in the way of cordial relations. It is more out of compulsion than choice, much less foresight, that the General initiates dialogue with India.

America is in no mood to be deceived by Pakistan's clever manoeuvring tactics.


Iran-India gas pipeline

As per reports in the newspapers, Pakistan has agreed to provide a passage to the 3 billion dollar gas pipeline from Iran to India. Indo-Pak relations being what they are, what is the guarantee that it will not be sabotaged?

The only way out for India is to equip itself with some mechanism as can be used as a retaliatory measure whenever necessary.

Geographically, India is in a position to paralyse water supply to some of the Pakistani canals by diverting the water of the Chenab into the Ravi somewhere in Himachal Pradesh. The core infrastructure needed for this is a gated tunnel connecting the two rivers.

The mere news of India’s intention to construct this tunnel can send shock-waves in Pakistan although its actual construction and keeping it in reserve as a tool for retaliation does not mean a breach of any law or the Indus Water Treaty of 1960. Let India complete its construction ahead of the pipeline if its sabotage is to be prevented. Had this tunnel been in position prior to the Kargil conflict, there probably would have been neither any Kargil nor the hijacking of the Indian plane.


India’s crowning glory

The crowning of India’s Lara Dutta as “Miss Universe 2000” after Yukta Mookhey was crowned as “Miss World” recently was indeed stupendous. Like the mythological “apsara”, Lara radiated physical beauty combined with inner beauty in the pageant.

She made one wonder whether Khalil Gibran was right when he observed: “Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror”.

No doubt, like Yukta, Lara is India’s “crowning glory”. As the Prime Minister, Mr A.B. Vajpayee, said, Lara’s “success is a tribute to the Indian women and her aspirations for excellence”.

Nevertheless, the positive effect of liberalisation has been noticed in the Indian fair sex also. Indian beauties have truly, gone “global” with the crowning of Yukta Mookhey as “Miss World” and Lara Dutta as “Miss Universe 2000”.


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