Saturday, August 19, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Talks to what purpose?

THOSE of us who at times advocate the holding of talks with Pakistan over Kashmir should ponder over just one thing: What will Pakistan’s demand be during the course of these talks, if held? Without the least doubt Pakistan, in essence, will harp on the same age-old story of plebiscite in Kashmir. Let no one have any illusions on this. Are we willing to concede this untenable demand of Pakistan? Talks are always to be welcome but only if there is even the slightest meeting ground or the possibility of any productive outcome. In any case, in the present context, India cannot allow itself to be bullied into the holding of talks at the point of guns in the hands of militants, jehadis, and saboteurs pushed by Pakistan into the Indian territory to kill innocent people and spread communal hatred.

It is the Pakistani mindset that is the stumbling block in the establishment of friendly relations between our two countries. The Pakistanis have not got over the euphoric world of Moammed Ghauris, the Moors and the Mughals. They consider it their Allah-ordained right to rule this subcontinent as in a bygone era. Even if Kashmir is offered to them on a platter they will find a hundred other bones to pick with India. They do not realise that India and Pakistan have more in common than most other regions in the world. Together we can work wonders for our poor people. Unfortunately there are powers that are happy to see us fighting forever to weaken us both. They lose no opportunity to prompt and provoke Pakistan against this country.

The Kashmir situation as we find it today is the product of a half century of inept handling, ad-hocism, misrule, and misplaced idealism totally divorced from hardcore politics. All along, Kashmir has been kept out of the mainstream of the national life, and a psyche of fear and separatism allowed to grow among the people, with an eye on the elections. It is a sad commentary on our policy-makers, polity and politicians who have displayed a total lack of vision, forthrightness and resolute action. The misfortune is that even now our national leaders are unable or unwilling to sit together, discuss and evolve a unified coherent policy on important issues like Kashmir, but are perpetually wrangling over trivial matters in a sordid display of pettymindedness and vote-bank politics. Disunity has proved our weakness in the past, just as unit can be our greatest source of strength as has been proved time and again in a crisis.

How to maximise this unity? Let’s be frank enough. The impression is fast gaining ground among the discerning minds that the Westminster model of governance implanted here has been found wanting and requires some basic changes to respond to the current scenario, needs, aspirations and ethos of our people. We must see the writing on the wall and be sensible enough adapt to the present times without letting events overtake us with the fury of a tidal wave.

Yet Pakistan should not forget that India as a nation with 5000-year-old civilisation has weathered untold turmoil, tribulation, death and destruction during its chequered history and held its own. Though we do have our hard lessons to learn, we still possess enough capacity, will and resilience to take the transient reverses, if any, in our stride. We are a long-distance runner, not a 100-metre sprinter. Please listen, ye Pakistanis, we are not in the business of winding up. We are here to stay, with you or without you.


An appeal to UNO

Terrorism is becoming a global phenomenon. Open trading in arms and ammunitions fuels its promotion. It is high time the UNO took a strong step against all those arms/ammunition manufacturing countries who sell their wares to other than recognised national governments. All such nations should be declared as terrorism promoting nations. Countries, where non-governmental organisations are having arms, should immediately withdraw all such arms with stringent laws. Non-compliance should be unitedly opposed by the whole world.

It is also urged that everybody should raise voice against terrorism. There is no place for killing innocent people in any scripture of the world. May God give a good sense to all those who are following the evil path of eliminating humanity and unfortunately shedding blood of their brethren.



Hizb chief’s rant

Recently, criticising India for the collapse of ceasefire offer, the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen chief, Syed Salahuddin, urged Pakistan to send troops into Kashmir even if it meant a war. (“Send troops to valley, Pak urged,” August 13).

According to him, meaningful dialogue meant tripartite talks that involved Pakistan, India and Kashmiri leadership. He warned that his outfit would step up attacks on Indian soldiers inside the valley and elsewhere in India.

While talking in a wild, extravagant way from his headquarters in a posh neighbourhood of Islamabad, the Syed forgot the sound drubbing Pakistan received at the hands of Indian security forces in the 1965 and 1971 wars and the humiliating withdrawal of its troops from Kargil only a year ago. Some Pakistani ex-generals and Chief Air Marshals described the Kargil operation as disaster for their country and criticised that government for embarking on that misadventure.

In the wake of its formal accession to the Indian union, Pakistan has no locus standi on Kashmir.

The Hizb chief should know that wars always cause terrible loss and sufferings. Our jawans are not wearing silken gloves. They displayed splendid gallantry in throwing out the enemy from Kargil and will similarly tackle the foe in future.

“Mujahideen” means Muslim soldiers or warriors in defence of faith. What danger the peace-loving people of Kashmir pose to the Islamic faith in defence of which the so-called “mujahideen” shed innocent blood? Is not it an un-Islamic activity? Are not they ruthless minions of death?



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