Monday, November 19, 2001, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



After Afghanistan, Kashmir likely to hot up

General Musharraf’s stars are on the decline, so it seems. A couple of weeks ago, he was riding the crest but events in Afghanistan have overtaken his scheming. He thought himself not only to be a master military strategist, even rendering unsolicited and open advice to the Americans as to how to conduct their military campaign in Afghanistan, but also an international political player and even a statesman. Suddenly the ground seems to have slipped from under his feet due to collapse of Pakistan’s prodigy, Taliban and ascendency of arch rivals the Northern Alliance. The General all of a sudden finds that he has not got many cards left to play.

However, he still has the master card of Kashmir in his hands which he is likely to use for various reasons.

First, General Musharraf has got to divert the attention of his military and people from the events unfolding in Afghanistan adverse to Pakistan’s interests and contrary to his advice to the international community. This is essential for his survival. The sure avenue is to hot up things in Kashmir and foment anti-India feelings once again amongst the masses.

Secondly, the Western powers have decided to keep Pakistan propped up. The international community would not wish to openly go against Pakistan at this juncture, even in case of any upsurge in violence in Kashmir.

Thirdly, by hotting up Kashmir, General Musharraf will be able to once again focus world attention on this issue. The Western powers want this dispute to be resolved as soon as possible as this will bring in stability in South Asia and eliminate a possible nuclear flashpoint. International pressure will be brought to bear on India to negotiate with Pakistan on Kashmir on the same lines as Israel is being asked to settle the Palestine issue. However, Israel has a very strong lobby in the USA; the Indian lobby is no where near it.


And finally, a large number of armed Taliban cadres are likely to cross over to NWFP and Baluchistan. Their presence in Pakistan will result in law and order problems and could pose considerable security difficulties for the present military regime. It will therefore be advantageous to get them busy in Kashmir instead.

The Indian Government should, therefore, gear up not only militarily for better coordinated and effective anti-terrorist operations but take political steps to open dialogue with various indigenous separatists and political group in J&K, tone up the administration and open up avenues for greater employment for Kashmiri youth. The extent of alienation of the common man in Kashmir has to be reduced; its elimination will take time as much blood has flown through the Jhelum river. The battle of the hearts is as important if not more than the battle of the bullets and blasts. However, lip-service will not do.

Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee must visit Srinagar; even if it is Badamibagh Cantonment and meet representatives of the people. If he can travel to Moscow, New York, Washington DC and London, and also meet Musharraf without a formal agenda, surely he can hop off to Srinagar and listen to the Kashmiri leaders. He has to take the lead and show his presence at hot spots in own country. After all Mahatma Gandhi toured Noakhali in the thick of riots in 1947! Mr Vajpayee cannot effectively govern this vast and multi-ethnic country from his residence in New Delhi and addressing election rallies at a few places only.

On a lighter note, Mr Prime Minister, genuine Kashmiri cuisine is no less mouth watering than South Indian dishes; your latest liking!

Lt-Gen HARBHAJAN SINGH, Chandigarh

Humour nourishes heart

In his middle “Melancholy but mirthful” (Nov 10), Mr I.M. Soni has remarked: “Ill-temper and hostility stem from our inability to take humour seriously”. Thackeray called humour “a mixture of love and wit”. It is the habit of mind that amuses by provoking laughter and reduces tension.

Humour is a very much desirable possession. It nourishes the heart. Melancholy corrodes it. Those who possess a sense of humour are ready-witted, good at reparte and see the funny side of a subject. Not only they themselves remain pleasant and happy, but also try to keep others in a good mood.

After the death of his wife, an old, emaciated poet said that he would marry a widow. “You may marry a virgin. She will certainly become a widow”, a good-humoured poet, Majaaz Lucknavi quipped. The consolers burst into laughter. One day, poet Iqbal came late to the classroom. When pulled up by the teacher, he retorted, “Iqbal (good fortune) always comes late”. The teacher smiled. His anger disappeared. On the other hand, the obstinately ill-humoured people do not find pleasure in anything. They behave sulkily and suffer from depression.

Good-humoured people have the faculty of perceiving the amusing. A lot of “gard” (dust) fly about when winds blow in the areas around Multan (Pakistan). An Urdu poet of humour, Zameer Jaafri, thus mentions what happened to him:

Gard ney Multan tak is tarah gardaana mujhey

Meri beevi ney bari mushkil sey paihchaana mujhey.



Disrespect to flag

The song ‘Hum Hindustani’ by the prominent Punjabi folk singer Hans Raj Hans on Channel V uses national tricolour as floor. National flag must be given due respect and I strongly protest the use of national flag as floor for dancing while recording the said song. Its telecast should be stopped forthwith and re-recorded for telecast on any channel. At the same time, all the team members of this song i.e. director, singer, participants should apologise for showing disrespect to the national flag.

HARISH K. MONGA, Ferozepur CityTop

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