Improving Indo-Pak relations

IN his article “Rendezvous at Roosevelt: India and Pakistan begin exploring peace” (Sept 29), H.K. Dua has very rightly professed that though there will be pitfalls and hazards on the way, India and Pakistan should find a method of establishing durable peace. Both countries have been saying that they do not accept the idea of converting the Line of Control into an international border. But it is a historical fact that both had endorsed this idea in 1972 while signing the Shimla agreement. Otherwise, the old ceasefire line could not have been converted into the Line of Control.

“Composite dialogue” promised in the meeting between Dr Manmohan Singh and General Musharraf has bright chances of success in case both understand that we have lost many national assets which could have been used to our advantage. To Mr Dua’s suggestion for greater mutual trust between the two countries, I would like to add that a spirit of brotherhood and humane approach would help improve Indo-Pak relations.

Col JASWANT SINGH CHANDEL (retd), Kalol, Bilaspur




Mr Dua has very pertinently brought out the likely solutions to the intractable Kashmir issue. It is time India and Pakistan accepted the Line of Control as the international border and relax all rules for free movement of people across the border, free trade and exchange of cultural, educational and social groups.

On India’s part, we may in due course plan things like reduction in forces in the Valley and give more autonomy to the state. This way all the three parties, i.e. India, Pakistan and the people of Jammu and Kashmir, will be satisfied.

Brig H.S. SANDHU (retd), Panchkula

HP report on biodiversity

THE purpose of periodic biodiversity reports is three-fold — to bring about greater awareness within the bureaucracy at all levels; to focus on species which are on the decline or which may have become extinct from the state; and recommendations to halt the ongoing decline as also to bring biodiversity back to acceptable levels. A summary of the report carried by The Tribune (Oct 7) is silent on the latter two aspects. This is a pity because most readers will not have the privilege to read the report at first hand.

There used to be an isolated population of the Hangul (Kashmir Stag) in Chamba in the Gamgul-Sivabehi area but there is no mention of it in the summary. Has this deer become extinct from Himachal? On the other hand, the report lays claim to the Himalayan Thar.

All informed conservation bodies have long held the belief that due to severe habitat loss and related factors, the number of this mammal in the sub-continent is critically low and in its many old strong-holds it has ceased to exit. Does the Himachal status report reveal how many Thars have been sighted in the state to substantiate their claim? If they are a mere handful, does the state have a strategy to stabilise their number to viable levels?

The report asserts the presence of Musk deer whereas Vivek Mohan’s “A Field Guide to Indian Mammals” (2003) discounts this claim. Among the several other doubtful inputs, the presence of the Wild Ass (presumably in the Lahaul-Spirit region) is suspect. Of the two species of the Wild Ass in India, the “Asiatic Wild Ass” is confined to the Rann of Kutch (Gujarat) only and the “Tibetan Wild Ass” (Kyang) mainly to Ladakh. Occasionally vagrants are encountered on the plateau in North Sikkim.

In 1990, there were confirmed reports of a large range of medicinal plants from Himachal being harvested by pharmaceutical establishments beyond their natural recuperative capacities. Does the report recommend any restorative measures? Has the state taken note that its emblem bird, the Monal, is on the fast track to oblivion? A more objectively analysed report is a must.

Politicians and bureaucrats should function in tandem and create a contiguous inter-state Shivalik Biosphere Reserve running through Himachal, Punjab, Haryana and Uttaranchal.

Lt-Gen BALJIT SINGH (retd), Chandigarh

Teachers’ plight

The plight of unpaid teachers in some colleges in Punjab is miserable. Teachers are awarded every year for their commendable service. Citations and cash prizes are presented to them. But does anyone ever bother to know how these unpaid teachers are pulling on to make both ends meet?

We have not been paid our pay for the past nine months. We have been reduced to the position of bonded labour. If we raise our voice, we have to face the wrath of the college authorities, the administration and even the public.

We are answerable to our conscience if we shirk our duties. But who is accountable for our plight?

SAROJINI, GNBL Ramgarhia College for Women, Phagwara

Justifiable fears

Apropos of the editorial “PM on quota” (Oct 8), the industry’s fears that quotas in the private sector will render it incompetitive are reasonable and justified. In India, we don’t follow the US criteria while providing for job reservations. The American reservation system allows for individual consideration of candidates, ruling out race as the sole criterion. It gives due weightage to non-racial criteria as well.

Consequently, the US quota system, unlike in India, doesn’t sacrifice the intrinsic requirements of the industry; instead, it seeks to fulfil these requirements. The former is thus industry-friendly.

AKHILESH, Hoshiarpur

Learn from Punjab

Why we, in India, wait for outside powers (like Bhutan) to help us in controlling the insurgency-related problems in the North-East? The need of the hour is to identify the police, paramilitary and military personnel who had worked effectively in that region in the past.

Only those with a clean image and high level of integrity and intelligence should be identified and entrusted the task of rooting out the prolonged menace in the North-East with a free hand. The Punjab experience could be used to supplement the planned policy.

S.K. VASHISHT, Panchkula

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