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Focus on improving bilateral ties

Unfortunately, we are surrounded by countries which have no respect for democratic values (article. “State and Army in Pakistan” by Punyapriya Dasgupta, Sept 1). Pakistan and Myanmar are directly or indirectly controlled by army generals. The 19th century French philosopher Joseph Marie says, “ Every country has the government it deserves.”

A long stint of army rule in a country indicates that the countrymen are comfortable with that system. Democracy is a system. If it does not work in a country an alternative system is bound to develop. An army general is as patriotic as any other political leader. The type of government accepted by the country is their internal affair.

Pakistan and Myanmar are far better than Afghanistan where neither democracy works nor is the army competent enough to take over. As a result, the Taliban is threatening the world. We must not forget that the best years of Pakistan and Myanmar’s economic growth and our best trade relations with them were those under military generals. The focus of our foreign policy should be to improve our bilateral relations rather than improving political systems of other countries.


Plebiscite in Kashmir

Dr Farooq Abdullah made an emotional speech in Parliament and stated that “we (Kashmiri people) want solution of the problem within India and not in America, China or Pakistan.” But does he know the ground reality?

K Subrahmanyam in his article, “Pak game plan in J&K: Need to formulate an effective strategy” (Aug 10), has highlighted that the Indian people at large, the politicians in particular and the TV journalists too did not know that the UN resolution called for all people who entered the territory of Jammu and Kashmir, including Gilgit, Baltistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, to leave the area before a plebiscite can be held. In the last 63 years literally millions of Pakistanis have settled in these areas and generations of children and grandchildren have been born to them.

“In Jammu and Kasmir in India, non-J&K people are not allowed to take permanent residence, own property or be included in the electoral rolls. If the plebiscite is to be held Geelani should get an assurance from the Pakistani authorities that they will vacate millions of people disqualified under the plebiscite provision from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Does he have such an assurance? It is because of this action of Pakistan of Pakistanising the portion of Kashmir under its control that UN mediator Gunnar Jarring came to the conclusion in 1957 that plebiscite was no longer feasible.”

Let the Prime Minister, the J&K Chief Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament widely emphasise this extremely important condition in the UN resolution by holding discussions. Meanwhile, we should create more educational facilities and jobs for the people in Kashmir so that they can enjoy the fruits of vibrant Indian democracy.

Lt-Col JIWAN SHAROTRI (retd), Kasauli

US withdrawal

US President Barack Obama is juggling with problems (editorial, “Out of Iraqi quagmire”, Sept 3). Beset by woes of a moribund economy at home, Mr Obama has nevertheless persisted with troop withdrawal from Iraq. He is neck-deep into trouble in Afghanistan and a wayward Pakistan is compounding his problems.

Certain sections in Iraq appear to have perceived the US troop withdrawal as a sign of the US throwing its hands up, and violence is on the rise. Softer forms of the US power are now called for in Iraq requiring a high level of diplomatic acumen.

Lacking the luxury of a thriving economy, Mr Obama has to take on this huge task of personal diplomacy over and above a pressing domestic agenda. It may be a tall order even for this charismatic leader. Nonetheless, he needs to be commended for wisdom of veering away from the Bush agenda of endless wars.

R NARAYANAN, Ghaziabad

Potholes on highway

The news report (Sept 3) aptly describes the condition of 6.5 km of the National Highway-95 falling within the limits of Morinda town. On this stretch of the road, there is no sign of any pavement and there are deep potholes. Whenever, one has to cross this stretch of the road one wonders whether there exists any government worth the name? Ordinary citizens are being put to dangers for no fault of theirs. It is sad that the officer concerned says that the project will be taken up in the next 45 days and will be completed in six months. What was being done during the last two years?

S C CHABBA, Patiala

Autonomy for varsities

The article “Unshackle the varsity system” (Aug 31) by Shelley Walia is a comprehensive expression of the issues currently strangulating the higher education system in India. It rightly suggests that varsities be allowed to govern themselves so that outdated systems of recruitment, research and evaluation are overhauled.

Scholars and pedagogues today are being bullied by red tapism which is destroying our country’s academic culture and its peoples’ natural genius with needless bureaucratic interference. The examination system has become the only measure of talent and the worth of education itself has become directly proportional to its market value. This system of labelling individuals and universities by a number that signifies their score or position and thereby determines their social worth is both erroneous and humiliating.

It is the need of the hour to take concrete action to make universities fully autonomous and to allow them to provide knowledge for the sake of the development of knowledge and ethics. Only then can mankind continue to produce original and pioneering ideas and translate them into works that stand the test of time and place.

KAMNA SINGH, Chandigarh.



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