Saturday, November 24, 2001
M A I L  B O X

Are war clouds hovering over our horizon?

APROPOS of Gen Himmat Singh Gill’s "Are war clouds hovering over our horizon?" (November 10), in my view a failed nuclear Pakistan is infinitely worse not only for the rest of the world, but for India, too. The death throes of Pakistan state could easily embroil it in a war with India. The war could easily turn nuclear. Thus it is in the world’s, rather the USA’s, interest to persuade Musharraf to stabilise his country by stemming the drift towards extremism and returning it to democracy. What is more, it is in India’s interest too, and India knows it.

What the USA is leaving out of account — what Pakistan’s army of lobbyist in Washington have managed to obscure — is the fact that Pakistan is seeking to change the territorial boundaries of a nuclear state by force. In this situation the continuance of peace depends upon India’s patience. That patience depends upon its capacity to absorb the blows that Pakistan is raining upon it through terrorist attacks in Kashmir. What the USA would do well to factor into its calculations is that this capacity is very nearly exhausted.

Whatever the Indian Government may be, it is not a lamb that can be led uncomplainingly to the slaughter. Its two-decade experience of fighting terrorism has proved that fighting terrorism on its own soil extracts a terrible price from innocent civilians. That is, in fact, precisely what the terrorists want it to do. But Pakistan should understand that India would continue to do so only so long as the cost of fighting on its own soil does not exceed the cost of fighting a war in Pakistan.

Pakistan appears dead sure that Washington would look the other way in case of any Indo-Pak conflict. It is why it has no intention of stopping the arming, training and dispatching of militants across the border. This has been made amply clear by Musharraf in his country’s policy towards India.

Thus unless the USA and other rich nations step in to curb Pakistan’s reckless adventurism, another war is inevitable. This may not even be very far away.



Punishing criminals

This refers to "Meting out humiliation as punishment" by Khushwant Singh (November 10). The writer’s suggestions are very good as they originate from noble intentions. But it is doubtful if they can be of much use as the criminal and corrupt are invariably too thick skinned to feel shame. Had they not been so, Sukhram, Jayalalitha et al would have committed suicide long ago.

Shame is a matter of one’s own conscience. Criminals and corrupt are not burdened with it. The corrupt openly flaunt their ill-gotten wealth and most of them don’t even pretend to pay lip sympathy to ethics.

Criminals are susceptible only to physical punishment which, at present, is not severe enough.




Apropos of Reeta Sharma write up "Time to rethink traditions" (November 10). In fact, every society displays at some point dissent with regard to its customs and traditions. As such the writer’s views regarding some changes in the celebration of festivals of Raksha Bandhan and Karva Chauth need deliberation.

The writer argues that by changing the name of the festival of Raksha Bandhan to Pyar Ka Bandhan as, we would be able to eliminate a sense of gender bias in the minds of both the sisters and brothers and also strengthen love among them. This argument does not hold. The roots of gender bias lie far deeper in the India psyche. In a sense the subordinate status of females is ascribed more to the way in which our culture defines and evaluates female biology than anything else. As such customs and traditions in Indian society ascribe higher status to male than the female. That is why traditional patriarchal prejudices still predominate in our society despite emancipation of women.

Until a change in the normal consciousness of the people, an ability to assimilate new values and discard old, outdated customs and traditions comes, all changes are meaningless.