Saturday, September 14, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Bush does balancing act
Indian diplomacy caught in two currents
Hari Jaisingh

New York, September 13
High-profile Indian diplomacy is caught in two opposite currents here — one representing the warmth and understanding of the Bush administration and the other carrying the vicious hate-India campaign by the Americans' new favourite "ally", General Pervez Musharraf.

Which is the real face of President Bush? No one has the right answer right now. All that can be safely said is that President Bush and his aides are engaged in a great balancing exercise in the subcontinent.

They think they need the Pakistani dictator to fight the remnants of Al-Qaida and other terrorist groups in Afghanistan and beyond.

General Musharraf, on the other hand, feels that the road to his survival back in Pakistan lies through Washington and for this purpose he is ever willing to bend over backwards by playing anti-terrorism drums to please his masters.

It is a paradoxical situation. But then this is how today's diplomacy is practised.

It will be unfair to doubt America's desire to further strengthen bilateral ties with India. This was reportedly very much visible during President Bush's 35-minute meeting with Prime Minister Vajpayee on Thursday.

It is clear, as spelt out by Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal, the USA wants to give a new thrust to Indo-American relations in certain specified areas.

First, President Bush wants the two countries to evolve a broad strategic relationship. The new specific areas identified for this purpose are space, hitech, energy, commerce and trade and defence.

Second, the American President is highly appreciative of the high quality of "intellectual energy" of Indians at home and abroad which he hails as "a great asset".

Three, President Bush has expressed deep concern at the killings of candidates contesting the forthcoming elections in Jammu and Kashmir. He says : No alibi can be justified for spreading terrorism that takes away the lives of innocent people. He promises to use his "leverage" with Pakistan to take it away from the terrorist path.

Four, he looks for Indo-American cooperation for economic reconstruction of Afghanistan. He even suggests some joint projects for this purpose, especially in distant learning and water resources management.

The meeting between President Bush and Mr Vajpayee is officially described as "warm, friendly and fruitful". What has impressed Indian officials is the US President's "positive attitude" towards this country.

As for President Musharraf, it is part of his hate campaign as usual. The Pakistan General is obviously playing a highly dangerous game of duplicity and of selling lies.

His address to the UN Assembly lacked even elementary points of decency and diplomatic niceties. It was more like a cheap street show partly meant for his domestic audience and partly for the benefit of his masters here.

With regard to Kashmir, General Musharraf mixed falsehood with fiction to hoodwink the international community. He talks of the UN resolutions which have either outlived their utility or have fallen through because Islamabad did not carry out its part of the obligations.

Perhaps General Musharraf does not realise that he is playing with fire by poking his nose in India's domestic affairs. He has gone to the extent of debunking what he calls the BJP's "Hindu fundamentalism" and comparing it with acts of "terrorism".

Only a sick mind speaks in a language that the Pakistani dictator has used in his address to the 57th UN General Assembly session. He has shown his class.

"Mere barking and wagging the tail may draw Uncle Sam's attention but this can hardly give him the respectability which probably he does not seem to seek. Nor does he probably deserve it".

General Musharraf's performance is a test case for President Bush's balancing game. As for India, the best answer will be to let the dictator talk and show himself in true colours!



Ethnic hostility in USA
Rediscovering family roots

THE combination of fear and ignorance can be both deadly and disastrous. This was very much apparent in different parts of the USA in the aftermath of last year’s terrorist strikes in New York and Washington.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has reported 2,042 cases of hate incidents against Muslims since September 11.

What is overlooked in these hate crimes is the fact that not all Muslims subscribe to the thinking of Osama bin Laden and his followers. Much of the teachings of the dreaded Saudi fugitive are against the basics of Islam. Still, people often react irrationally and brutally in a crisis situation.

According to the Campaign for Collateral Compassion, a group based in the Chicago area that investigates cases of violence and ethnic hostility, there have been a number of such incidents in parts of the USA. These include an Egyptian grocer in San Gabriel (California), a Pakistani grocer in Dallas, a Palestinian-American in Los Angeles and a Sikh gas station owner in New Haven.

The USA Today has reported the case of the Indian immigrant (Sikh) who was shot dead outside his Chevron station in Mesa four days after the terrorist attacks. His assailant declared “All Arabs have to be shot”, without realising that Sikhs are not Arabs!

“Many Americans are nervous about us when they look at our dress and different colour”, says Balbir Singh Sodhi’s younger brother Lakhwinder, and adds “before September 11 we didn’t have any problem”.

There are reportedly 500,000 Sikhs in the USA and Canada. Some leading lights of the community have now been busy telling Americans about religion, values and credentials as peace-loving and friendly people. This campaign is definitely making a difference to the understanding of other ethnic groups by the people here.

Meanwhile, USA Today deserves compliments for highlighting Balbir Singh Sodhi’s unfortunate killing.

“My brother sacrificed his life to help the innocent”, says Harjit Singh (another brother). “That’s what my family believes”.

Our salutation.


Has September 11 made any difference to the life and attitudes of the people here? I asked a taxi driver who happened to be an Indian.

“Yes, it has. I see revival of family bonds in America - something that was missing in the city of New York. They are now trying to rediscover their family roots and look for solace in the warmth of family links”, he declared.

Indeed, after the September 11 traumatic experience the people once again realise that family togetherness can help overcome a crisis situation bravely and with confidence.


Would you be interested in knowing how a “White House website” looks at Iraq? Well, log in to and have a close look at “The White House: Iraq at a glance”.

I would particularly like to draw your attention to two entries under the heading of “sport”, “hygiene”, and “architecture”.

SPORT: There is no football, baseball, basketball or hockey in Iraq. As with most inferior nations, “soccer” is popular, though notably less so than “martyr ball”, in which opposing teams of 15 players compete on their hands and knees to nudge a semi-decayed billy goat testicle across a scorpion-infested minefield.

HYGIENE: Like cats, Iraqians bathe primarily in dust, and groom each other’s hair with their tongues.

ARCHITECTURE: Inspired by the design of Donald Trump’s “Taj Mahal” casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, most Iraqian structures are built of kiln-dried bricks of human excreta and adorned with desert-breached bones of...

Well, who is kidding whom? Is it a real website of the White House? I doubt it. In any case, in this information age, it does not pay to thrive on ignorance and hatred.


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