Bookmark and Share  

EDITORIAL

Bilateral talks should continue

Serious doubts are expressed by sections of knowledgeable circles about the fate of ongoing Indo-Pak dialogue in the aftermath of the killing of Al Qaeda chief, and its reverberations in official circles in Pakistan. Government of India's suggestion to the Indian participants in the forthcoming conference of the European Union on Kashmir question in Brussels was cited as akin to the Government of India retracting steps from the bilateral talks. But an official clarification in the matter has now come in from New Delhi saying that India favoured continuing the bilateral dialogue notwithstanding the Osama happening and its repercussions. The same line of argument was adopted by the spokesman when he argued that the reason of recalling Indian delegation from Brussels conference was that the process of bilateral talks with Pakistan was going on. .....more

Exasperation over black money

The Apex Court seemingly finds the central government fighting with it back to the wall to protect those who have stashed enormous monies in foreign banks like Switzerland. The Attorney General could not convince the Supreme Court Bench that the speed with which the ten-member committee appointed by the centre was pursuing the case was reasonable. The first case was filed in 2007 and its hearing came up only n 2011. The Apex Court understands the delaying tactics of the government and its unwillingness to disclose the names of those who are holding account for huge monies in foreign banks. The court asked a simple question: what is the difficulty in disclosing the , ......more

Discriminated we stand, discredited we fall

By Col J P Singh, (Retd)

Revocation of Dogra Certificate is a proverbial last nail in the ethnic coffin of Jammu region. Histories of progressive nations have been written in blood. When attempts are made to destroy their history in a systematic manner, an everlasting fear is created in the minds of effected people about their future. History is said to repeat itself. It takes a step backwards before taking a leap forward. To my mind, revocation of Dogra Certificate for the people of Jammu region is a direct assault on the ethnicity of Dogras and discrimination with the region. Repeated acts of discrimination lead to revival of demands for a separate statehood for Jammu and Union Territory for Ladakh and each time the resolve is stronger. The last nail has the potential of impacting the politics of J&K if viewed seriously. .....more

Pakistan a
terrorist state

By Arun Nehru

President Barack Obama applies closure to 9/11/2001 and after a decade justice catches up with Osama bin Laden on the outskirts of Islamabad. .. ...more

Justice has been done

On the spot
By Tavleen Singh

The news that came from Abbotabad last Monday morning was news I had lost all hope of hearing in my lifetime. As someone who is passionately opposed to the religious lunacy that Osama bin Laden’s jihad represents I have followed his .......more

EDITORIAL

Bilateral talks should continue

Serious doubts are expressed by sections of knowledgeable circles about the fate of ongoing Indo-Pak dialogue in the aftermath of the killing of Al Qaeda chief, and its reverberations in official circles in Pakistan. Government of India's suggestion to the Indian participants in the forthcoming conference of the European Union on Kashmir question in Brussels was cited as akin to the Government of India retracting steps from the bilateral talks. But an official clarification in the matter has now come in from New Delhi saying that India favoured continuing the bilateral dialogue notwithstanding the Osama happening and its repercussions. The same line of argument was adopted by the spokesman when he argued that the reason of recalling Indian delegation from Brussels conference was that the process of bilateral talks with Pakistan was going on. Therefore opening the conference on the subject was likely to create hurdles in the way of continuing the talks. It means that India is serious in continuing the talks whatever the circumstances.
This apart, the fact of the matter is that a large section of Indian civil society is somewhat skeptic about the talks. Even the national party in opposition has asked the Prime Minister to re-think his decision of continuing the bilateral talks with Pakistan when it was now clear to the world that this country was preaching international peace on the one hand and on the other hand it was giving safe haven to the very fountain-head of international terrorism. This was a contradictory and conflicting situation and India had no justification to get embroiled in the mess. They believe that first Pakistan should clarify its position in regard to providing safe haven to Osama just close to its Military Academy in the garrison town of Abbotabad. They further contend that Pakistan has done nothing to wind up training camps for Kashmir terrorists in PoK and rather is reinforcing them and replenishing them with full material support. In addition, very conflicting statements are coming out from Pakistani official circles in regard to the Osama episode. They are blowing hot and cold in the same breath. Sometimes they say that the Pakistan government is not at all involved in providing safe haven to Bin Laden or in the assault led by the Americans on his hideout. At other times, it wants to claim the role of fighting against international terror.
However, setting all these arguments aside, New Delhi has said in very clear and unambiguous words that it wants to engage Pakistan in bilateral talks. The talks are covering a variety of subjects and New Delhi's contention is that sine Pakistan is beset with many domestic problems India would not want to close her eyes to the ground reality. "Talks with Pakistan will continue. We have to engage them. We have to focus on the issues of concern that we have with Pakistan. We have to engage them on the issues of normalization, whether it comes to trade, humanitarian exchange, prisoners, cross LoC trade in Jammu and Kashmir", sources said. It has to be remembered that the Osama episode may make Pakistan upset for some time. But the hard reality is that Pakistan retains her strategic importance and relevance to the Americans in their world view. Relations between the two countries are deeper than what the Osama episode may bring in train. Therefore India cannot escape the need and option of engaging Pakistan in talks.
Admitting that much more pressure was required to be put on Pakistan to deal with terrorism, India certainly is concerned over the presence of groups like LeT, JeM and Hizbul Mujahideen on the Pakistani soil as these remain a serious threat to India's security. Apart from being vigilant to this factor and safeguarding its interest, India should continue to press this point with its US interlocutors and as well as in discussion with Pakistan. This then explains why India has to continue talks with Pakistan not out of any compulsion but out of flow of diplomatic practices. Pakistan will overcome the present crisis, and we should not give up the hope that democracy will ultimately stabilize in this country which has no tradition of democratic life style. We need to give space to saner elements in Pakistani civil society especially at a time when world powers are trying to support the fragile democracy existing there against heavy odds created by her Army and its affiliates.

Exasperation over black money

The Apex Court seemingly finds the central government fighting with it back to the wall to protect those who have stashed enormous monies in foreign banks like Switzerland. The Attorney General could not convince the Supreme Court Bench that the speed with which the ten-member committee appointed by the centre was pursuing the case was reasonable. The first case was filed in 2007 and its hearing came up only n 2011. The Apex Court understands the delaying tactics of the government and its unwillingness to disclose the names of those who are holding account for huge monies in foreign banks. The court asked a simple question: what is the difficulty in disclosing the names of defaulters? But the government has no answer. The government vehemently rejected the idea of the Supreme Court Bench of appointing Special Investigation Team (SIT) to monitor the speed with which the ten-member committee was handling the black money case. Obviously, the government has the apprehension of skeletons falling out of cupboard. But how long can the government circumvent the process and hide the names of the involved persons. With each ploy that the government resorts to, it is getting more and more exposed to the public gaze. It never denied huge monies being stashed away in foreign banks but it never came to grips with the very crux of the question. Wherefrom was this enormous money got? The government has created the bogey of threats and dangers and debacles in case the prosecution of the offenders was stepped up or if the names of the offenders were disclosed, and has beseeched the Apex Court not to pressurize it for speedy disposal of the case. But the court was not prepared to buy this line of argument and only deferred its judgment. The truth is that the matter can neither be stalled nor kept in cold store for too long a time. It is a matter of days and the whole truth about the black money will come out.

Discriminated we stand, discredited we fall

By Col J P Singh, (Retd)

Revocation of Dogra Certificate is a proverbial last nail in the ethnic coffin of Jammu region. Histories of progressive nations have been written in blood. When attempts are made to destroy their history in a systematic manner, an everlasting fear is created in the minds of effected people about their future. History is said to repeat itself. It takes a step backwards before taking a leap forward. To my mind, revocation of Dogra Certificate for the people of Jammu region is a direct assault on the ethnicity of Dogras and discrimination with the region. Repeated acts of discrimination lead to revival of demands for a separate statehood for Jammu and Union Territory for Ladakh and each time the resolve is stronger. The last nail has the potential of impacting the politics of J&K if viewed seriously.
Dogras are a diversified Indo Aryan ethnic tribe like many other tribes of India and are no aliens at all. They are Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs and are predominantly in Jammu region of J&K. They are also living in Punjab, Himachal and North East Pakistan. They speak Dogri language which is one of the recognized national languages. Jammu has been the seat of power of Duggar Pradesh for centuries. It is a land of Rajas, Generals, soldiers, warriors and hardy farmers and is different from the Kashmir valley in many respects. The Dogras are short in height though sturdy in disposition. Being a martial race, they prefer to join the armed forces and vice versa. Since 1887 they were allowed some relaxation in physical measurements for enrolment in the army on the basis of a certificate issued by revenue authorities. This certificate has now been denied at the behest of Kashmiri leaders.
Since the independence, people of Jammu have been burning in the heat of oppression. Prolonged discrimination in political, economic and financial spheres besides glaring disparity in employment opportunities was seriously taken up by many social organizations in the past. Since it was ignored by media, it never became a forceful issue. Dogra certificate was a document to receive traditional physical concession for enrolment in Armed Forces. With revocation of this facility, job opportunities will be further curtailed for the Dogra youths. Today Jammu stands out as victim of discrimination and hegemony of the Kashmiri leadership. Panther party legislators took up the issue of denial of this certificate at certain places in the Assembly. Govt issued a formal order to issue Dogra Certificate as per norms. Hurriyat and main stream political leaders made it a political and religious issue stating that Muslims of Jammu are not being given certificates and hence they do not get the benefits of concession etc etc, which was a fallacy. Govt rescinded the order. Dogra certificate was no issue at all; a issue was made out of it, blown out of proportion and issue killed to the disadvantage to Jammu; all in a pre planned manner to get one upmanship over Jammu. The gulf between Jammu and Kashmir has been further widened and self respect of Dogras hurt.
We usually do not have regrets for what we did but for the things we did not do. Time to regret is gone past. Earlier one felt that the politicians who discriminate against Jammu must talk more against it and those who are the sufferers just listen. Identity of the leaders who inflicted this deep wound on the Dogras and will continue doing so with vengeance is no more a secret. But Jammuites have not politicised this issues perhaps for the fear of lacking consensus. They never used such issues to blackmail Jammu based politicians. Isn't there any victim who can take up the cudgel and challenge the might of discriminators. Under the circumstances Jammu will have a Anna Hazare sooner or later to rescue the aggrieved region from the oppressors.
Jammu deserves more than 50 seats in the State Assembly and 6 to 8 more districts, parity in employment opportunities, allotment of funds on the basis of area, population and ground realities. Regional equality and communal harmony remained in the state only till govt changed over from autocratic ruler to the democratic despots. Independence and partition sowed the seeds of harassment of Dogras and the discrimination continues till now. Silent and chalta hai stance of Congress leaders and ruthlessly ditching and discrediting of Jammu by BJP MLAs emboldens perpetrators of discrimination. Society led by such leaders is bound to go retrograde. We shall continue to be discriminated and discredited. Here is the situation where we are discriminated not because we are the generation of lesser god but it is because we rarely contested it. Nature gives opportunities to one and all. The wisdom lies in grabbing that opportunity. This indeed is a testing time for the common man . It is a test of his political maturity, social consciousness, self respect and above all his willingness to fight against discrimination and discredit. Did we stop playing because we grew old or we grew old because we stopped playing, has to be answered. Admirably younger generation which is wiser and pro active has to get ready to get what has been denied to them to mar their future. And for the rest of us it is another opportunity to decide if we really want freedom from oppression or continue to be oppressed.
Is fiqar mein sab baithe the; aakher hamen ab kia karna hai,
Kitna zulam sahena hai; kab zulam karne walon se larna hai.

Pakistan a terrorist state

By Arun Nehru

President Barack Obama applies closure to 9/11/2001 and after a decade justice catches up with Osama bin Laden on the outskirts of Islamabad. There will be new details by the hour as details of the commando operation are disclosed and there is no doubt that this operation has been a huge success. Osama bin Laden was no longer the leader of a global movement and very much a man on the run but he was the symbol of 9/11, he was the architect of the cold blooded murder of 3,000 people at the World Trade Center and many other crimes in Europe, UK, Africa, Middle East and in India and many other countries in South East Asia. The house built in 2005 implicates the Pakistani government, the Army and the ISI and they provided him sanctuary [at a cost?] and few if any will believe the falsehoods being spread by interested elements. The house after the raid will no doubt provide a wealth of information but the living conditions indicated a man on the run, no internet, no phones and you cannot run a global empire by a few couriers! Osama was killed but his family including his wife and several children were spared and this was generous considering that innocent women and children were slaughtered by bomb blasts and suicide bombers across the globe on his orders.
The event over the 'before and after' syndrome applies and while it is true that new terror links have been formed over the last decade there are several questions for Pakistan to answer and in a World where there are few secrets it is not wise to live in denial or in fear! There have been 30-40,000 civilian casualties in Pakistan and these will continue as 'rouge' elements within the system provide space and sanctuary to terrorists and criminals and for all practical purposes Pakistan has become a terrorist state and no surprise that the USA have closed the Embassy, suspended issue of visa and others will follow suit unless the government acts and this is no longer a issue any longer. There are provocations and we must remember that terror is a very lucrative business for many and no surprise that the prime accused in 26/11 led the prayers in Pakistan and in India we may find a few discredited minority clerics doing the same thing and they should be ignored. We are a free society and in every religion we have a small sect of extremists who indulge in these acts and do not represent anyone except their own selfish interests. We are on full alert and we must wait and watch for events to unfold and the commando raid and the death of Osama bin Laden brings closure to 9/11 and the US President will gain in political terms but public opinion cannot be taken for granted and I think interest will focus on Pakistan and the three billion dollars aid from the USA to fight terror will be in jeopardy and what India has said for three decades with facts and figures is now a global reality.
The situation in Tunisia and Egypt is very different from Yemen, Algeria, Morocco, Syria and Libya and we see serious developments in Bahrain and even in Saudi Arabia. We have six million Indians in the area, we have huge business and commercial interests and as a emerging super power we have a political responsibility to fulfill in the decision making process. Vote bank politics are a essential part of any Democratic structure and President Barack Obama and his party have a election to fight and he has converted many a 'negative' into instant 'positives' by the successful commando operation and although it has taken ten years to eliminate Osama bin Laden is a major public issue and for the media this coverage could last for months and generate a great deal of public interest. We cannot predict the future but I think Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan will once again be in the public spotlight and along with the economy which in comparative terms is doing well the President is in a good position and the Democratic party will rally around him with enthusiasm and this is a dream opportunity which every party looks for at election time. A few days ago Barack Obama thought it necessary to release his birth certificate and look how the situation has changed in a few days!
Retribution always come even after a decade and closure comes to 9/11 and our thoughts are with those who perished and with their families and Pakistan and the terrorists they harbor still have to account for 26/11. We are not the USA, we do not give them 3 billion in aid, we do not supply them weapons to fight terrorists [this is a joke] and they will do nothing to help us in tracking the killers of 26/11. We have a long list of names starting with Hafiz Saeed and we cannot jeopardize our security indefinitely and adopt a passive attitude. The next few days will indicate the pattern the USA will follow and then we have to evolve a long term plan and show our firm resolve not only to Pakistan but also to the USA. Pakistan as things stand is a terrorist State and there cannot be two different standards in dealing with criminals and those guilty of mass murder.
I am a little surprised by the attitude of the USA and the UK in dealing with Army dictators who have violated laws within their country and in recent days we hear of the massive assets going into billions of the deposed Egyptian Dictator Hosni Mubarak and his sons and Col Gaddafi and sons have vast investments in the UK and many parts of Europe and we have Pervaz Musharraf the former Pakistan Army chief living in luxury in London and where does the money come from and is he being funded by intelligence agencies for services rendered?

Justice has been done

On the spot
By Tavleen Singh

The news that came from Abbotabad last Monday morning was news I had lost all hope of hearing in my lifetime. As someone who is passionately opposed to the religious lunacy that Osama bin Laden’s jihad represents I have followed his disappearance after 9/11 as well as I can. Whenever I have met Pakistani friends or traveled in Pakistan I have asked about Osama’s whereabouts and always everyone convinced me that he was most certainly dead. They gave different reasons. Some said that the Generals who controlled Pakistan had no reason to keep him alive if they knew where he was. It would be more profitable, they said, for them to give him up to the Americans in exchange for more dollars and F-16s. Then there was the theory that if he was in Pakistan he was hiding in a cave in the wild and inaccessible mountains that divide Afghanistan from Pakistan. If he was there, my Pakistani friends pointed out, then he was outside the reach of the Pakistani army because the Pathan tribes who inhabit those parts are a law unto themselves.
Only one friend, who shall remain nameless, once said laughingly at a dinner party that Osama was in a heavily fortified safe house in a military cantonment. My friend had high connections in the Pakistani army and I wish I had listened more carefully. As I did not I was taken by complete surprise last Monday when my son called to say, ‘Put on the television. They’ve killed Osama bin Laden.’ Since then I have, like millions of people all over the world, followed every detail that has come out from behind the high walls of the house in Abbotabad. I have gazed transfixed at the blood-stained mattress where the world’s most notorious mass murderer fell and stared at the medicine bottles in their neat row above his bed. I have listened to every detail of how the American Navy Seals entered the house, killed Osama and escaped with his body before anyone in Pakistan realized that the country’s air space had been violated.
Like other journalists who wandered about Peshawar in the late eighties and early nineties, covering the war that brought the Soviet Union down, I have my own Osama story. An American friend and I were once interviewing Mujahideen leaders in Peshawar when we noticed a very tall, bearded man leaning against a table. We did not speak to him and we did not know who he was but when 9/11 happened my friend, who lives in New York, reminded me of this incident and we cursed ourselves for not having tried to talk to the tall stranger. In the early nineties, on another trip to Pakistan, I heard that Osama, who was then beginning to gain notoriety, was living in the Northwest Frontier Province in a house that belonged to my friend Rehmat Shah Afridi. He owned the Frontier Post newspaper at the time and had invited a group of Indian journalists to Pakistan for one of those attempts at a second track, informal peace dialogue. This was before 9/11, before 26/11 and already talking peace with Pakistan was complicated.
We who spoke for India in a totally unofficial capacity found it hard to get beyond Kashmir and talk of other things. Rehmat Shah was present at all the discussions we had in Lahore and Peshawar and in the evenings organized for us entertainments of all kind including a memorable private concert at which Farida Khanum sang. None of us had any idea of his real claim to fame: his very close links to the mastermind of the worldwide jihad. I bring this up here to make the point that the links between the pillars of Pakistan’s establishment and the jihad remain nebulous and it should surprise nobody that Osama spent the last five years of his life in the garrison town of Abbotabad. Anyone who continues to believe that he was there without the knowledge of the Commander in Chief of Pakistan’s army needs their head examined.
What Osama’s violent end draws attention to is the role of the Pakistani army in the worldwide jihad. If the jihad continues, and there is little doubt that it will, there is no question that it is because of the support that it gets from the Pakistani army. The Generals who control this army have never hesitated to make it absolutely clear that Pakistan’s foreign and defense policy is something that only they have a right to make. Civilian governments who have tried to interfere in these sacrosanct areas have been unceremoniously dismissed the minute they have stepped out of line. And, the only constant feature of Pakistan’s foreign policy in the past two decades has been the financing and promotion of jihadi groups like Al Qaeda and the Lashkar-e-Toiba. This support has been so total that the lines between soldiers and jihadi warriors have blurred and at least one serving Pakistani army officer was involved in the 26/11 attack.
So what happens now that Pakistan’s Generals have been caught with their pants down in Abbotabad? Will the Americans acknowledge that their closest ally in the global war against terrorism is in fact the perpetrator of this war? There are signs that this is already beginning to happen but for us in India it is even more important that our own Government speaks in more robust tones about the involvement of the Pakistani state in the spread of violent Islamism. There is no point in a peace dialogue with Pakistan until this happens. The truth is that there is no point in a peace dialogue with Pakistan until we can show that India has the will and the ability to conduct the sort of operation we saw last week in Abbotabad. Instead of constantly whining about Pakistan’s reluctance to render unto us the men who have been responsible for terrorist acts in India we should build the capacity to go and get them ourselves. If we had gone after the hijackers of IC 814 and the criminals we released in Kandahar ten years ago there is every likelihood that 26/11 would never have happened. Every state has the right to defend itself in every way possible. The Americans showed us how in Abbotabad last week.

| home | state | national | business| editorial | advertisement | sports |
|
international | weather | mailbag | suggestions | search | subscribe | send mail |