Friday, September 21, 2001, Chandigarh, India


O P E N   F O R U M 

Pakistan with N-bomb no less a rogue state than Iraq

We are flooded with letters from our readers here and abroad on the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. Keeping in view the global importance of the subject, we shall carry on this page viewpoints of our readers in the next few days.

— Editor

THE terrorist aerial attacks on New York and Washington DC were devastating indeed and one of the hijackers was of Pakistan descent. However, this is not likely to be the peak of terrorist acts against the USA and other countries. Small nuclear devices and chemical/biological attacks may also be launched, causing even greater havoc. Small nuclear-tipped missiles can also be ferried on commercial ships and launched against the USA. Pakistan is one country which has the required nuclear and missile capability which could be provided to terrorist outfits.

Pakistan’s nuclear and missile capability has given it a great clout amongst the Islamic world and terrorist groups. As a result, its nuclear bomb is also termed as the Islamic bomb by some people. It is, therefore, essential that as a part of the war launched by the USA against terrorism, nuclear and missile capability of Pakistan is targeted and eliminated as was done by Israel and the USA against Iraq. Pakistan is no less a rogue state than Iraq, and it is hoped that the USA would need no additional coaxing on this count.

The most suited nation to undertake this task is Israel, which is also directly threatened by the Pak (Islamic) bomb. Pakistan is an active and long-term enemy of Israel and that country has been seriously taking note of Pak nuclear and missile capability. Israel has the required operational experience having eliminated Iraqi nuclear facilities with an aerial attack. Unless the nuclear and missile capability of Pakistan is eliminated, no war against terrorism can be considered to have been completed. It would be prudent for India not to get directly involved in any attacks on Pak nuclear and missile facilities, as far as possible, to avoid a nuclear backlash from Pakistan. The USA will have to provide a nuclear shield during the Israeli attacks on Pak nuclear and missile facilities/assets.

India also needs to seize this opportunity to deliver a ‘coup-de-grace’ to terrorist camps, leaders, cadres who are conducting terrorism in J&K with lightning and sustained attacks against them, while intensifying anti-terrorist operations in our own territory. Such an opportunity may not come again. The feelings of people of J&K and the large Muslim community in India need to be assuaged side by side.

India’s international security apparatus, civil defence organisation and disaster management machinery is archaic, lethargic and untrained. It cannot sustain even a modicum of attack by terrorists. These functions must be handed over to military officers, who are the only ones left in this country with any sense of discipline, decisiveness, commitment and leadership. Their hands should not be tied by foisting bureaucrats on top of them, otherwise even they will get frustrated and not be able to function in an optimal manner. Bureaucrats must be kept out of the loop in organisations which deal with emergencies.

The financial capital of India, Mumbai; the seat of power, New Delhi; our nuclear installations and assets and major defence and industrial complexes need to be protected pragmatically. The people need to be educated to face national emergencies.

This occasion also highlights the need to immediately implement all the recommendations of the Group of Ministers to reorganise the intelligence set-up, the Ministry of Defence and appoint a Chief of Defence Staff. It is time our top hierarchy realised what we are up against and shed inter-service jealousies, parochial mindset and get on with the job of making our national security apparatus more potent and efficient. It is hoped that the leadership will rise to the occasion, take required decisions and not let down the nation.

Lt Gen Harbhajan Singh (retd), Chandigarh

At the crossroads

India is now standing on the crossroads and the question arises as to what extent India should involve itself in the US military action in Afghanistan? Even in the current wave of sympathy for the American people in their hour of crisis, we should not forget the ambivalent attitude of the US government towards terrorism in general and in this region in particular of which India has been a victim for over a decade now.

While supporting the American action in Afghanistan, we must press it to give a consistent commitment against cross-border terrorism. India should also be very careful in not being seen associating and condoning the killing of innocent Afghan civilians.

Kameshwar Shergill, Chandigarh.

My worst TV show

“Even God is afraid of a madman” is a popular Punjabi saying.

We have read numerous stories and novels about destruction of New York. The most well-known perhaps is Mario Puzo’s The Fourth K, a vivid description of decay in American society that ends up with a nuclear blast set in Manhattan by a couple of particle physics students. Before September 11, none of us could have realised that any illegal organisation could have given the civilised world such a hit. The ingenious plan of shooting large hijacked aircraft into the WTC towers and Pentagon succeeded in doing unimaginable damage to property and life. We can be the next target. Laden has declared a sort of war against the USA and its allies, especially Israel. India is not too low on the hit-list. A new breath of life has been put into the faceless creature of Islamic militancy. A new range of possibilities has risen suddenly.

When the news reached New Delhi, our government displayed its usual childish haste in showing its interest for “world peace”. As usual the world media ignored us, perhaps due to the desperation Mr Vajpayee showed. Even the BBC gave more coverage to Pakistan, one because it showed a little less enthusiasm and two, because of its proximity to Taliban. It cannot be denied that Pakistan may play a far bigger role than India if the USA wages a war on Laden’s positions. The seriousness of the killers in their battle against the USA have made it more important for the USA to have more loyalty from a part of the Islamic world. The fact that Pakistan is a pillar of militancy in South Asia, ironically, is attractive to the USA for it is a point from where they can observe the show without getting hurt. Also there is possibility of using it as a futuristic model to control tenor once things get out of American hands. It also is a living proof of the sort of control the USA should have in (what they think is) a uni-polar world. But the results may still be arduous for the USA owing to short-sightedness of Mr Bush, who diametrically opposite to Clinton, is a real typical angrez, answers all questions about India with a twist of his left hand without speaking, does all the histrionics of a typical US President in Hollywood movies.

Jagmohan Singh Khurmi, Muktsar

See our backyards

While the news channels and dailies have been inundated with the terrifying spectacle of world terror news, we at home would do well to focus more on our very own backyards. The sudden upsurge of crime around the country and sporadic incidents of violence in Bangalore, not to forget the continued Indian losses in the Kashmir killing fields, all these and more seem to have taken a backseat in the media news columns.

The WTC tragedy and its aftermath will rightly hog the limelight for many years more to come. But in the evolving scenario we seem to be plunging headlong into hasty declarations, while our own backyards appear to be simmering with opportunistic criminals who can simply add to the panicky mindset.

The media would do well to devote more attention to violent clashes, starvations and accidents in our own backyards than getting overly focussed on the already well-covered American responses. We should first ensure our own nation’s security and safety rather than have speculative reports of world unrest, which the future will dole out anyway.

Capt Malvinder Singh, Chandigarh


Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
121 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |