Saturday, April 26, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



To talk or not to talk

This refers to the front-page report “Ball in Pakistan’s court” (April 20) about Mr Vajpayee’s offer to hold talks with Pakistan provided “cross-border terrorism” ends. The offer comes after our efforts at the so-called “coercive diplomacy had failed to achieve anything substantial, after almost a year-long stand-off at the border. It is wishful thinking that Pakistan will stop “cross-border terrorism” now when it did not do so at the height of the Indo-Pak stand-off.

The offer of talks now smacks of our weakness or that we have run out of all other options. Or maybe it is US pressure that is working. If any of these is true, it is a poor reflection on our image and capability to bring Pakistan to reason. It amounts to a sudden U-turn in our thinking. We seem to be experts in diplomatic somersaults.

We must not forget that Pakistan is very clear in its aim, which is “to break up India to a manageable size”. Pray, what is our aim viz-a-viz Pakistan? Nobody seems to know!

Talks for the sake of talks mean nothing. Offer and on, we have been talking with Pakistan at various levels ever since but to what avail? Talks must yield results, which are in our national interest. That can only happen if we show consistency in our words, posturing, actions and deeds.

The way we have been somersaulting, or the way our politicians have been making confusing statements, it is doubtful if Pakistan will be convinced about our “consistency” and “clarity of aim”. Due to our size and other capabilities, we must talk from the “position of strength”.



Destination Punjab

Apropos the editorial “Destination Punjab”, I would like to bring to the notice of the powers-that-be one shocking act being committed with impunity by the traffic police in Amritsar. As soon as a vehicle, particularly with a registration number of another state or another district, enters Amritsar, only a fortunate one can escape the wrath of the cops who have laid multiple well-planned traps en route the Golden Temple. Cops detain visitors, ask for documents and, on flimsy grounds, threaten to impound their vehicles. The visitor has no option but to cough up a few rupees as “entry tax”.

This practice has been going on for the last many years. The Press, NGOs and even the SGPC should prevail upon the authorities to stop such extortions. The police should take the initiative to put up welcome counters and provide drinking water and guidance instead. The authorities should display prominently on hoardings the telephone numbers of senior officials for reporting extortions.

P.P. SINGH, Amritsar


Set up schools

When the SGPC can only think of constructing gurdwaras, how can you blame people for not following the religion? In place of gurdwaras, why can’t the SGPC build schools with modern facilities, state-of-the-art equipment and get teachers who are the best in their field? How many schools and colleges which the SGPC is managing are run efficiently.

Along with imparting principles of Sikhism, it should be seen that the students in these schools should learn English, computers etc so that they are prepared for a good life.

I can afford good education for my son, so I can’t think of converting, though I am a product of a convent school, but I can’t vouch the same for a poor farmer, who has no means to educate his children. For him, converting to another religion which offers him all that is indeed a great temptation for aren’t children our greatest weakness? If a particular religion has made inroads into ours, we have only ourselves to blame.


Pak denies charge

In the editorial “Fencing alone won't do” (April 15) it is charged that “cross-border terrorism remains an instrument of state policy in Pakistan”. This unsubstantiated allegation is highly regrettable. The absurdity of the charge becomes apparent when you consider the following facts:

1. As an effective member of the international coalition against terrorism, Pakistan has done the most to combat this menace and will continue to do so. The world community has lauded Pakistan's central role in this regard.

2. Terrorist acts have taken place within Pakistan as well and action has been taken against some organisations.

3. Pakistan is committed that no violation of the LoC in J&K takes place. Furthermore, various proposals have been made by Pakistan for an independent verification of the movement, if any, across the LoC, including the strengthening of the UN military observers group for India and Pakistan.

4. It has been proposed by Pakistan on several occasions that a joint or neutral inquiry commission be instituted to investigate all acts of terrorism.

KAMRAN ALI KHAN, Minister (Press), Pakistan High Commission, New Delhi

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