Wednesday, January 23, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Declining war psychosis: cause for celebration?

I heave a sigh of relief that the threat of another war is receding. Western “influence”, not common sense of those in power, brought this about. This reality should make every self- respecting Indian and Pakistani, feel ashamed. “These fellows killing each other” is another business opportunity that Western merchants of death exploit routinely. Mr Blair’s persuasion to India to buy 60 AJT aircraft, valued at a billion pounds, or America’s offer to sell Phalcon, AWACS, and other armaments of colossal value are recent examples.

In India, the war threat suffered a credibility problem, thanks to the state assembly elections due in February. The chances of the BJP led or partnered ruling coalitions being voted back to power are far from bright in U.P. and Punjab. Building up war hysteria is a good straw to hang on at this time for the political ragtag alliances in India and for the time frozen hardcore religion dominated “jihadi” fish market groups in Pakistan. Even if it means soft-pedaling the fact that Pakistan has put in place unprecedented, concerted, well-coordinated action plans to curb terrorism, including its export.

I admire Gen Musharraf’s courage to stay on in power rather than throw in the towel at this dangerous juncture. No leader in either country since inception has had to take on the kind of mind-boggling explosive, challenging situation that he is leading his country through.


With a per capita foreign debt of $350, three times that in India, Pakistan must be insane to fight a war with India. To itch to fight a war with Pakistan, India must be equally insane because its fiscal deficit this year, estimated at Rs 1,40,000 crore, will virtually equal all the taxes it collects this year! India has to borrow almost the entire money it needs to meet its salary bill. The picture prevailing in the states is no better.

Meanwhile, in the past decade, India has added 160 million and Pakistan about 30 million to their already explosive population handicap while employment and occupation opportunities have stagnated or even declined in both countries. There are more desperate young people available to be hired as contract killers by the crime and underworld mafia that rule the roost in both countries.

If the two countries fail to stem the rot at least now in a spirit of statesmanship, when Pakistan, in Gen Musharraf has its man of destiny, and settle for long term normalisation of relations, such an opportunity may not come again for several generations to come.

N. NARASIMHAN, Bangalore

New Pak strategy

No doubt to some extent Indian diplomacy has succeeded in making the USA to put pressure on Pakistan to cease its support and help to trans-border terrorism in Kashmir. But it would be naive to contend that the solution to the Kashmir problem is round the corner or that India has won a diplomatic victory. In fact there are already straws in the wind that Pakistan is on the verge of adopting a new strategy in Kashmir. The shift appears to be subtle but significant.

It appears that President Musharraf has now realised that the greatest dis-service was done to the Kashmiri cause by the Pakistani and other Islamic terrorists and extremists who virtually hijacked it (Kashmiri cause). This action of theirs has virtually obliterated the distraction between “freedom struggle” and “terrorism”. As he has publicly declared, Kashmir is in the blood of Pakistanis and they cannot give it up. Therefore, goaded by the aforesaid realisation, Musharraf is now going to delink the Kashmir movement from terrorism. But even then Pakistan will continue extending political, moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri movement. So, Indians would by now be wiser by past experience.

It is a historical fact that the U.N. has passed a resolution urging a plebiscite in Kashmir under international supervision. Such a plebiscite has not been possible because Pakistan refused to vacate PoK for holding it under international supervision. But in the post 9/11 and post-Afghanistan war scenario, there is enough motivation for Pakistan to take a political gamble by vacating PoK, and calling for a plebiscite in Kashmir under international supervision.

If such a situation arises, which now is not beyond the pail of possibility, India will find itself in a catch-22 position. Such a coup de maitre by President Musharraf, a master-strategist, is not improbable or unlikely. Sadly, we in India have no clear idea as to what our end-game in the “Firdaus bar roo-e-zamin” would be, if such a master stroke is played by the artful tactician of Agra.


Indo-Pak tension

It has now become clear that Indian policy right now is to get an agreement with Pakistan on Kashmir. The chain of events after September 11 has created an ambience that has created an opening for Indian strategists to go for the “final push”, but one thing which is not clear is the outcome which might emerge from it. Any agreement under duress at this stage may cool down the things for the time being but nobody could guarantee that it would not re-emerge in future.

The Indian policy in this regard is that of using pain killers to subdue the pain without treating the ailment that causes the pain. No matter what India says about cross-border terrorism, it is an undeniable fact that the unrest in Kashmir is emitting from Kashmiris. The foreign elements are just “fuelling” the movement so even if the foreign elements are eliminated the problem will remain.

The assessment of the Kashmiri sentiment could not be better described as by Mr Khushwant Singh a few years ago,” Kashmiris are no longer Indians; mentally they are Pakistanis”.

But it does not mean that India should present Kashmir to Pakistan on a platter. The only way out is to have a tripartite talks and to make an initiative in this regard. Everybody is looking towards India.

SAAD-UD-DIN, Karachi


India pushing for war

I think the government and the media are not appreciating the initiative the Pakistanis have taken to avoid war. I don't think the Indian government wants to resolve this issue by talking. It was in this newspaper a couple of weeks ago where Mr Vajpayee said: "We are going to try utmost to avoid war" and underneath this the other headline says: "We are not going to talk to Pakistan: Vajpayee:"

I don't have anything against Mr Vajpayee but I think he is playing into the hands of others. Use your common sense how you are going to try your utmost if you don't even want to talk to them. If there is war between India and Pakistan, I think India should be held completely responsible for it as India is kind of forcing the war on Pakistan. War is not going to resolve anything. At least the last three wars didn't. I think the media can play an important role in reducing the hatred between the people of both countries.


Highway patrol

The accident figures given by the Haryana traffic department are misleading. It is sheer co-incidence that a drop in accidents on the G.T. Road has occurred.

While travelling on the G.T. Road all regular drivers have to be as alert as a fighter pilot to detect vehicles coming from the opposite direction. The highway patrol does nothing to stop these and often indulges in this malpractice itself. This offence should be made punishable with a heavy fine.

Capt UDESHPAL SINGH MANN, Talanian (Fatehgarh Sahib)

Jagadhri station

Jagadhri railway station has no facility for computerised reservation whereas smaller stations like Rajpura, Sirhind and Abohar have been provided with this facility. Super fast trains — Himgiri/Lohit/Amarnath Express, Jansewa Express and Akal Takht Express — should also stop here.

V. P. DHAMIJA, Yamunanagar


Q: Guess what code name can be given to the war with Pakistan, if it takes place?

Ans: Operation Pusharraf!

K.J.S. AHLUWALIA, Amritsar

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