Saturday, September 22, 2001, Chandigarh, India


O P E N   F O R U M 

Help for America may spell trouble for countries later

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

IN the recent past my respect for China’s actions as an emerging power has increased manifold. The latest being the Chinese assertion that they would be willing to help the USA fight against terrorists, if the USA is willing to help China in its fight against their “terrorist and separatists” (read Tibet and Taiwan, along with the problems in their border districts).

Very fine diplomacy. It is common knowledge that terrorism has been very active recently (Philippines, Sri Lanka, Kashmir, Chechnya, Middle East to name a few). In this area the US has only paid lip service and kept changing its policies as to their convenience.

Now after having being stung at home, the Americans have decided to fight terrorism. A very noble and commendable decision for all Americans. With their control of the media and penchant for selling the Americans are now clearly convincing the world that their enemies are the enemies of the world.

But for it to be a noble decision benefiting all mankind, the mission and target must be carefully defined and must encompass all terrorist activities in various countries. The Americans must not just target terrorism that concerns them and then go back home claiming victory. This will not only leave terrorism alive in parts of the world but add still more woes to the Asian countries who have agreed to help America. The decision to help America is sure to create more problems for many countries, whose extremist elements will now find more fuel to attack their governments, while the Americans would have gone back home, having accomplished their objectives.

It is indeed sad that there is no strong Third World leader who can rally the Third World and ensure that universal objectives are met. Most of the Asian countries have already lined up with America to fight “terrorism”, without even knowing anything about the target or the mission. But one can hardly blame them for they are probably apprehensive of the American economic might and the rewards and sanctions it can bring with it.

It would, for once, be nice if the UN can deliberate and come to a universal policy against terrorism and then the world can under the American leadership go about eliminating this evil.

BALJIT SINGH, by e-mail

Left out?

The mood in the Indian Government and therefore in the media seems to be that they will finally get heard over cross-border terrorism in Kashmir by the USA. A glance at the US and western Press will reveal that of the many issues and countries being mentioned, India is a word that hardly comes up in any of them.

It would be a US-led alliance on eliminating terrorism from its roots in this part of the world. The USA may be content to carry out some sort of strike against Osama bin Laden and/or Afghanistan (less likely) and to do so it needs Pakistan. So in the end, a blind eye will be turned to the question of Pakistani support to terrorism, and it may even get the prize of having at least some of the sanctions lifted in return for ground provided. I hope I am proved wrong, but I think that once again we will be left out on the limb, unless the government can mobilise world opinion very quickly and intensely.

P. BHOGAL, Spain

No support, this!

Americans should not be fooled by the support they get from the Islamic heads of states as none of the governments there are popularly elected and therefore do not mirror the minds and moods of the masses there. Pakistan, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iran etc. are a few to name. The USA needs to do more in order to win the hearts of the local people there. The Americans speak of democracy, whereas a true democracy in any of these states would be the last thing that the USA would want.

There is a famous Pashtu proverb, “how wet can something already wet get”. America should realise that and try and understand the Pashtun psyche. They really don’t have anything to lose, the Afghans. The Pashtuns should not be dealt with lightly. They are not just plain warriors but are also infamous for their shrewdness. The possibility of a Third World war cannot be ruled out. There are many parties that would like to settle past scores with the Americans. The Afghans would try their best to exploit the situation and play the role of an active host in a “house of war”. Many nations could eventually be forced into this mess.

M. IMRAN SHAH, Peshawar

India & US media

One should hope that the wide-ranging and indepth coverage of the terrorist attacks in America by the Indian media will open the eyes of those who are managing the media in America.

No doubt, the dastardly attacks in New York and Washington, because of their uniqueness and magnitude, demanded special treatment by the media all over the world, including India. But as one compares it to the coverage the US media gives to the happenings, including some terrorist attacks of almost the same magnitude, in other parts of the world, one gets the impression that like Americans, the media in the USA is also self-centred. For the American media, there is no news unless it has a direct bearing on the Americans.

For the US media, the Kargil war was no news. Most newspapers used to carry news about Kargil in their “briefs” columns. The TV channels used to dispose it of in less than 30 seconds. Surprisingly, it became “news” for the media when it dawned on it that America’s enemy number one Osama bin Laden was fishing in Kashmir’s troubled waters. But once the hostilities ended in Kargil, it was no news for the media in America.

Ironically, the US media has never given proper coverage to the grim battle India was, and is still, engaged in to contain terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and some states of the North-East. Earlier, the same was true in regard to Punjab.

It is nobody’s case that the media in America should pay extra attention to India. But at least issues like militancy and terrorism, and above all the successful functioning of the Indian parliamentary democracy, can be given proper and unbiased coverage. The US media can learn a lesson or two from the Indian media, especially in view of the excellent coverage the latter has given to the terrorist attacks in America.

R. N. SHARMA, Gurgaon

It’s horrible

Any American who targets an innocent person of another community is a horrible person. After reading in the Bombay Times about how the Sikh community was being targeted by rioters, I felt we should not lend any support to the USA unless they stop this. We too have lost people there, how dare they attack us?

Remember what the Shiv Sainiks did after the Thane chief died ? We called them hooligans for this senseless rioting. But we attributed it to their socially deprived background. What about these rioters ? Don’t they have a brain of their own?

It would be totally wrong and immoral to attack even a Palestine, an Israeli or a Pakistani.


Are we prepared?

In the wake of the devastating terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, the question that all countries are asking themselves is: “how prepared are we to deal with such attacks?” The fact that America was caught off guard has triggered an enormous debate on a country’s preparedness to deal with such attacks. Every country has certain buildings that are extremely important from the security point of view. In India itself, the Parliament House, Rashtrapati Bhavan, the Red Fort, and the PM’s residence are some of the buildings that can be targets of terrorist attacks.

No matter how technologically advanced we maybe, and, however, well developed weapons system we may have, in the end it’s the innocent people who are massacred in the name of terrorism whether it’s Kashmir or America.


Stop sky-scrapers

The terrorist attacks in the USA have stunned the whole world. Let the mighty America ponder the next step. But there is a lesson for our country too: stop the lust for sky-scrapers in the metropolitan areas. These lofty multi-storeyed structures are not only the easy prey to terrorism but also a natural catastrophe like an earthquake can also tumble down these sky-scrapers. Delhi should take it seriously as the area falls in the weak seismic zone.

Prof D. B. MATHUR, Panipat


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