Friday, February 9, 2001,
Chandigarh, India



Ceasefire balancesheet

THIS has reference to Mr Hari Jaisingh’s article “A ceasefire balancesheet — peace process lacks a sense of direction” (Tribune, Jan 26). Pakistan has not positively reciprocated India’s peace initiative. The continued bloodshed by Pakistan-sponsored militant organisations and foreign mercenaries in the Kashmir valley is unbearable. The terrorists are striking not only in Jammu and Kashmir but also at other strategic points in the country.

It is satisfying to some extent that India’s step towards peace has been acclaimed by many countries, including Islamic states. But this is not enough. They must condemn collectively the terrorism fuelled and backed by Pakistan.

Unless Pakistan stops violent activities through its ISI in this country, no dialogue with that country is going to be fruitful. I do not agree with the author’s assertion: “There is no doubt that hard-core militant organisations have been working at the prompting of the ISI which is a law unto itself in Pakistan. It is beyond the control of General Pervez Musharraf.” It is impossible to believe that the Chief Executive of Pakistan does not hold the key to Pakistan’s militancy operations in India.

Iqbal Singh, Bijhari (Hamirpur)


Inadequate response: It is a matter of concern that Pakistan has not responded suitably to India’s peace initiative. It has on the other hand, increased its help to the terrorists to create a law and order problem in the valley. A large number of civilians and soldiers have been killed during this period when the guns should have been completely silent.

The pro-Pakistan politicians and militants are not interested in the peace move of our government as it does not suit the interests of their masters in Islamabad. Now Mr Vajpayee has further extended the ceasefire by one month. This action has not been liked by the country because of the attacks by the militants on the Red Fort and the Srinagar airport and the attempt made on the life of Dr Abdullah.

Subhash C. Taneja, Rohtak

A gamble: The present ceasefire, like the one in 1948, is a gamble. The latter has left a festering wound and the result of this gamble is yet to be seen. But both have one thing in common. In both cases personal whims and fancies have overridden the interests of the country. People fail to perceive the wisdom of a unilateral ceasefire, and that too in our own territory. The powers that be are unable to imagine its negative effect on the combat forces though long lists of dos and dont’s are prescribed every now and then. Much has been made of Pakistan’s disengagement on the LOC. Whereas our troops are tied up as before, the Pakistanis get a respite and also a chance to regroup.

Some people call the PM’s action a diplomatic victory. Diplomatic victory has no use for the country and the people if it is not accompanied by victory on the ground, and the ground reality continues to be grim.

I differ with the writer when he assumes that the terrorists are on the defensive. They have rather been on the offensive from day one of the ceasefire. Had the unilateral ceasefire not come through, they would have been compelled to act defensively. The action of the powers that be unveils the facade of the one track mind of the political authority. It is one thing to denounce terrorism and enter into agreements with various governments against terrorism but it is quite another to pursue the terrorists beyond our boundaries. In fact the unilateral ceasefire has slowed down our efforts towards positive results. Our brave jawans will have to put in a lot of effort to regain the momentum they have lost due to the ceasefire.

Lt Col Chanan Singh Dhillon (retd), Ludhiana

Consolidating peace process: Mr Hari Jaisingh has rightly concluded that ‘Kashmir today is at the crossroads. The process of peace has to be consolidated, but it is for the Vajpayee government to decide how far it can go. The moot question is whether India can find the political resourcefulness and administrative resilience not to allow itself to be provoked into calling off the ceasefire. Though the recent blasts have exploded the hopes of an early solution, yet the peace process must continue and the security forces should remain vigilant to retaliate against any suicide squads of pro-Pak militants like Lashkar-e-Toiba and Hizbul Mujahideen.

Col Udai Katoch (retd), Kullu

No useful purpose: It is a folly to believe that Pakistan will ever respond to reason, truth or justice as far as India is concerned. We have been beating about the bush for a decade and the conditions are getting from bad to worse.

It is true that the unilateral ceasefire has not served any useful purpose. But the opportunity could have been utilised to spot the black sheep among our own people, the hide-outs and routes of the terrorists and their contact persons in our own territory.

The big powers are mistaken if they think that terrorist activities and fundamentalism will remain confined to India. The virus will spread all over the world; it is only a question of time.

Therefore, the big powers should rise to the occasion, hold a Yalta type conference, form an alliance and declare an open war on countries that are encouraging terrorism and fundamentalism.

R. Kaundinya, Ambala Cantt

One-sided love: The continuous extension of the ceasefire is not going to deliver the goods. This one-sided love is tragic and ironical. The Vajpayee government does not seem to have a clear perspective of the Kashmir problem. It is delaying the peace process by bungling on the question of giving passports to Hurriyat leaders. Something must be done to stem the tide of extremism in the valley. Every day, our armymen, civilians and political activists are being killed and our security forces are on the defensive, perhaps only on account of the ceasefire.

A situation in which the capital is turned into a fortress (Tribune Jan 26) can give an idea of the plight of the people in Kashmir. If the streets of the capital are not safe, then which place is safe in the country?

Raj Bahadur Dehati, RewariTop


More about Chaos

IN his recent letter (January 30), Mr Peter Nagy, guest curator of an exhibition at Panjab University’s Museum of Fine Arts, has responded to the short and somewhat anguished article I wrote on the subject in The Tribune (January 17). Mr Nagy has asked some questions, and, before raising mine, I would first like, respectfully, to give annotated answers to his, as also clear some doubts on his part.

No, avant-garde “culture” should not be kept secluded in the big cities of Mumbai and Delhi, as long as there is no assumption that everything bearing the “avant-garde” label is good by definition. Yes, a university museum is a good place for creative exploration, provided this is done within acceptable limits. Yes, a museum should know its responsibility towards the community, etc, as should everyone else. And, as far as his wondering if I know the Chaos Theory: yes, I do. It might work well for artists and thinkers, and some scientists, but I doubt if it is to be universally commended: in museum practice, for instance, or in matters like the running of governments and cities.

I am sure everyone has a point of view. But my reservations — chiefly expressed from the viewpoint of museum practice — remain, despite Mr Nagy’s letter and the “philosophy” of this exhibition as stated in the “catalogue”. I am not impressed by what may or may not have been done in other museums. I only know that the day an original Tanguy is superimposed upon a Picasso which, in turn, is superimposed upon a Pollock (or, foam pads and all, a Pune upon a Khalkhar upon a Hussain), it will be time to worry.

Creating a new context, new points of reference, by arranging, for example, other works and objects — consonant or dissonant — around a known work of art is one matter. But taking works from the collection and obscuring them, hiding them behind others, laying them flat on the floor seems to me, by turns, unfair, superior, less than sensitive.

In any case, how all this has helped in “updating the collection”, or ushering this museum into the twenty-first century, is not clear to me. And I wonder what the late Swaminathan would have thought of a shadow puppet of Hanuman, or a miscellany of other objects, dangling in front of his paintings. Could this have been his idea of how urban and folk and tribal art should be brought together?

Finally, a question for the museum: would a similar exercise be allowed again if another group of artists, from Chandigarh or wherever, were to approach it, asking that the museum’s collection be made available to it for organising another videogenic exhibition?

B. N. Goswamy, Chandigarh


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