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March 2002




Between India and Pakistan





War ... will be decided in Washington!














War ... will be decided in Washington!


By Khuswant Singh



Whether you like it or not, the United States of America is powerful enough to order other nations of the world how to behave. Consequently, whether war breaks out or not between India and Pakistan will not be decided in New Delhi or Islamabad, but in Washington.


I, for one, am happy to see that the onus of such awesome responsibility does not rest on the shoulders of either Prime Minister Vajpayee or of General Musharraf, but on President Bush. He is not involved on India-Pakistan disputes, not swayed by the war hysteria which is sweeping across both countries, and has nothing whatsoever to gain if they go for each other’s throats. In short, the US is today the best guarantor of peace in the Indian subcontinent.


There are many who regard this turn of events as a slur on our national pride. Their argument is: “Today they tell us whether or not we should go to war against Pakistan; tomorrow they will tell us how to solve our problems. What will be left of our sovereignty?”


My answer is: preventing two nations from going to war against each other is the right, and indeed the duty, of all nations of the world. Helping them to sort out their problems is legitimate only if it is asked for by the disputants. India does not want third parties to stick their noses in our affairs. Americans, I am sure, will honour our wishes.


There is lot of anti-American prejudice around the world. Most of it is born out of envy: Americans have done better and are more powerful than other nations. Peter Dunne put it crudely: “We’re a great people. We are that. And the best of it is, we know we are.” They do not have the sophistication to realise that chest-thumping is bad manners.


Although all Americans can read and write, the vast majority are ignorant of what goes on outside their towns and cities. Carl Sandburg was right in holding that the average American’s mind is made up reading the daily newspaper and the Bible. The TV has now replaced both newspaper and the holy book.


They can afford to travel and form the largest percentage of foreign tourists. They rarely find living conditions up to the standards they are used to and never cease to grumble about something or the other: dirt, crowds, beggars. They want to be loved but do little to make themselves loveable.


Samuel Johnson said he was willing to love all mankind except Americans. Some of our leaders, notably Pandit Nehru, were allergic to the Americans. Most of this America-phobia exists among people who have not known Americans as friends and neighbours. I have, over several months, each time I was there as a visiting professor, not met a people more friendly, more helpful and less arrogant than any other. The picture of the ugly American is an unkind forgery.


(The article was first published in the Hindustan Times under Pax Americana.)






By Subroto Mukherjee



The raids on terrorist groups in Pakistan were a sham because the terrorists fled earlier after prior warnings, The Sunday Telegraph has reported following investigations in Karachi.

Terrorist leaders have hidden their money and are in comfortable quarters, not in jail, the newspaper investigation reveals.

Terrorist factions based in Pakistan “have eluded a military crackdown ordered by Islamabad,” The Telegraph reported. “They have moved offices, changed their leadership and hidden their funds,” The Telegraph reported.

The investigation by the newspaper revealed that “although more than 300 radicals have been rounded up in recent days, the impact on the operations of the Kashmiri separatist guerrillas is thought to be minimal.”

Describing the scene at the offices of Lashkar-e-Toiba, the paper reports: “Three empty tables, half a dozen chairs, two broken cupboards, a disconnected telephone and a sign reading ‘Allah’ are the only remnants of the once-bustling headquarters of Lashkar-e-Toiba following last week's police raid.”

The paper says the Lashkar-e-Toiba “used the offices to recruit 3,000 young men to fight the Indian army in Kashmir and to raise millions of pounds for its guerrilla wing,.”

But, the paper reports: “By the time the building was raided, activists had removed all documents in large briefcases and replaced a big hoarding carrying Lashkar's name and calls for jihad (holy war) with the ‘Allah’ sign. The organisation apparently had prior warning of the raid, fuelling speculation that they had been tipped off by sympathisers in the security services.”

The newspaper reports that Hafiz Mohammad Saeed and Maulana Masud Azhar, the heads of Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, were asked to surrender, but they did so “after handing over responsibilities to their senior aides.”

The paper reports: “The two men are being held in relatively comfortable government-run premises. They were not in police stations or prisons.”

Hafiz Ilyas, a Lashkar leader is quoted as saying: "We are well aware of the cost of confronting the government on this issue but the country can't afford such an internal crisis at this crucial juncture."

Ilyas said: "The recent arrests and related police actions do not show that the government's commitment with the freedom struggle in Kashmir has weakened."

A senior police official in Karachi was quoted as admitting: "We know that arresting 300 to 400 people is like a drop in the ocean but these groups have plenty of hideouts, including the 15,000-plus religious seminaries."

The newspaper reports on the basis of its investigations that “both groups have also managed to hide their funds, which they had amassed over the years in the name of jihad.”
The State Bank of Pakistan was reported to have frozen dozens of accounts of religious organisations and individuals, but more than 50 blocked accounts contained just $150,000.

A senior bank official was quoted as saying: "This is a tiny amount compared to their resources, but ever since September 11 it was obvious that the government might freeze their accounts. Most of these activists had plenty of time to withdraw their money."

A military official was quoted in the report as saying: "There is no way that we will take up arms against the religious elements at home and ignite a new fire while India is getting ready to attack us. A negotiated compromise with the militant leaders is the best option for us."





By Dr M S Jilani



Until about thirty years back hardly anybody in Asia was concerned about nuclear weapons except Japan, which had suffered them. It was in 1974, that the nuclear explosions by India made them an issue. South Asia was disturbed in particular, as India was generally feared to have hegemonic designs - or at least, dreams of leadership in Asia. For the next twenty years, India and its closest rival, Pakistan were engaged quietly in the development of nuclear weapons of higher grades and the missiles to carry them. The Indian nuclear explosion in 1998 broke the entire hell loose.


Pakistan had to - and did - retaliate. So a new nuclear power was born, in fact two, as India had already proven to be one. Since then, during the last three years - nuclear capability and state of preparedness have been the oft-debated issues in India and Pakistan - in fact at all places where peace was the topic.



Developments after September 11 attacks on the United States, and later, the US-sponsored operation in Afghanistan, have brought the question of the use of nuclear weapons to the forefront. Increasingly, most people in areas antagonistic to the United States and many others in the Developed World are growing apprehensive of nuclear conflicts in parts of the world where nuclear powers were party to an altercation. At the beginning of year 2002, no other area is more vulnerable to nuclear confrontation than India and Pakistan, where Kashmir stays as an extremely emotional issue on both sides of the border between the two countries.



It is natural for all sorts of scenarios to float in such a situation. Equally prevalent are speculations about what steps the two antagonist governments intended to take against each other. There is little among these ‘predictions’ that is likely to come true, yet they are liable to become common talk - and as such the center of powerful speculations about the future. The more recent controversy has been about the use of nuclear weapons in case of confrontation between India and Pakistan. There is no doubt that both countries have the nuclear know-how and the capability of seriously hurting each other.



One does not want to indulge in cursing and incriminating the leadership of India - whether in the government or outside. To be blamed are all who want to make war wherever they are located. At what price and at what amount of pain and misery? Anybody - whether the perpetrators of the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington or the carpet bombers in Afghanistan - responsible for destroying life should be condemned. Nuclear arms are denounced because they cause mass killings. But American arsenal in Iraq, and now in Afghanistan, has shown that the world has developed weapons of mass destruction, and that they are as lethal as the nuclear devices. Even the conventional weapons have been made more deadly than those used in the World Wars. The Air Forces have been equipped with more sophisticated machines and armament and more deadly tactics. This situation has reduced the entire debate on nuclear and conventional warfare to an academic joke. War is a war, and it means destruction!



What prompted one to write this piece, were the various disturbing opinions about the possession and use of nuclear weapons. The story starts with the question of developing a nuclear program in a country having limited resources and with more than one-third of its population living under the poverty line. This question should, actually, be addressed to India, which had been developing its nuclear program for at least two decades before it tested is product openly. Pakistan would have been foolish to sit quiet, particularly when a large part of the Indian establishment had never reconciled with the rationale behind the creation of Pakistan.



The second opinion centers around our nuclear tests in 1998. Although the economic and political consequences of those tests were painful, yet they did boost the morale of the nation, while also proving to India that any untoward adventure against Pakistan would prove to be costly. There is hardly any dispute over the necessity of a nuclear deterrent against a nuclear - and belligerent - neighbor much large in size and population. 



As the recent turn of events has proven, an all-out war between India and Pakistan has been checked by the nuclear weapons in the armory of both countries - besides internal and external pressure against the use of nuclear weapons. In fact, both the countries had to, repeatedly, assure the world that their nuclear programs were designed to develop only the deterrents and peaceful uses, and that, whatever they have, is in safe hands.



In spite of deep awareness of the results of a nuclear war and a general disapproval of armed conflict in both India and Pakistan, there are groups of people who favor the use of nuclear weapons on the enemy - even if it is located across the street. The argument is lamentable: use it because we have it, and anyway, it was developed to be used! One cannot ignore this line of thought - even though highly unsound, as it goes well with the inflammatory sentiments inciting people to wage war on infidels - whatever that means in India, and in Pakistan. One has to thank one’s stars that the control of nuclear weaponry is nowhere near the reach of these elements. But they can definitely affect the opinion of common person, weakening nation’s resolve on a crucial issue like security.



For the sake of argument, even if Indian armed forces and the population in our opinion deserve a nuclear blast, one should remember some home truths. The Muslims of India and Pakistan happen to have a common heritage in many different forms - most of it is located in India - shrines, mausoleums, forts, palaces gardens - besides not less than 150 million people who profess to have the same faith as, practically, the whole of Pakistan. Having vowed to preserve the Muslim culture and the Muslim way of life in the subcontinent by creating Pakistan, do we have the moral justification to turn the major part of it into ruins with our own hands? The same argument, if extended to majority of the population of India, reveals that it does not have much of a heritage in Pakistan - and what it can claim is Aryan or Buddhist. If license for mass destruction is granted, India, theoretically, should not have any qualms about vaporizing into air, any part of Pakistan! This argument is based on history, culture, feelings and living beings; as such it cannot be ignored. Better keep your ‘The Bomb’ for the day that you decide to destroy yourself along with the enemy!



The last word: Pakistan has made a respectable place for itself through graceful restraint and immense patience - yet the resolve to defend itself against any aggression. Let this not be spoilt! (The writer is an ex-Chief of Technical Cooperation Division of the United Nations ESCAP, and a former Secretary to the Federal Government.


(Source: Pakistan Links: Opinion  January 11, 2002)









By Pankaj Doval



The 'core issue' which stalled the 'then-historic' Vajpayee-Musharraf Agra summit in July this year finally seems to have shown its ugly face. Since the two leaders failed to find an 'acceptable-to-both' compromise joint declaration then, bilateral relations between the two nuclear neighbours have grown for the worst, currently looking headed for a military showdown and, if
things go even worse, a nuclear conflict.


Though India had at that time (July) advocated to talk on other issues as well to bridge the ever-widening gap between the two countries against the military dictator's insistence on the 'core issue' (Kashmir), things have certainly changed post-  September 11 and December 13, the last being the day when India's Parliament, which houses the world's largest democracy, was attacked by Pakistan-based terrorists alleged by India to be masterminded by Pakistan's intelligence agency - the ISI.


The different parameters Islamabad had adopted after September 11 - branding militants on its west (Afghanistan), after pressure from the US-led global force, as terrorists while that on its east (Kashmir) as 'freedom fighters' - doesn't seem to be acceptable anymore, especially after the bloody October 1 attack on the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly and the latest attack on Parliament.


Even the West, which had all these years been asking New Delhi to adopt 'restraint' in relation to Pakistan-sponsored terrorism (called as 'indigenous struggle in Kashmir' by Pakistan), seemed to have done a volte-face when faced with a similar situation itself after the deadly attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.


The US, along with other western allies, 'forced' Pakistan to join in its global assault on terrorism and attacked terrorist camps in Afghanistan to eliminate the al-Qaeda and the Taleban.


However, even as it continues its effort against terrorism, it still urges India to exercise restraint, though finally accepting India's long-pending demand to brand the Lashker-e-Toiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed as Foreign Terrorist Organisations. Foreign policy experts say Washington's long-delayed announcement comes only after it feared that the current build-up by India and Pakistan along then borders as well as the 'so-far minor' skirmishes would escalate into a war, shifting focus from 'its (so-called) global campaign against terrorists'.


Notwithstanding Pakistan's lukewarm response to India's demands to act against terrorists, US President George W Bush on December 28 urged India to take note of the fact that Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf was moving forcefully against terrorist organisations that New Delhi had blamed for the December 13 attack on Parliament.


''I hope India takes note of that, that Gen Musharraf is responding forcefully and actively to bring those who could harm others to justice,'' Mr Bush said while talking to reporters at Crawford, Texas.


But all this seems to have been late, rather too late. Also, Pakistan's response, if at all, seems just to be ''cosmetic'', as Indian External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh rightly termed it.


There is no word from Pakistan on India's demand for the arrest and extradition of some of its Most Wanted men - underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar, 1993 Mumbai blasts accused Tiger Memon and Chhota Shakeel - just to name a few.


Bilateral relations between India and Pakistan have sunk down to new lows -  India recalling its High Commissioner to Islamabad and terminating the land route link between the two countries (Samjhauta Express and the Lahore bus) on December 21.


Also, on December 27, New Delhi decided to reduce the strength of their respective High Commissions (India and Pakistan) by half and banned overflight facilities to Pakistani aircraft. The fresh set of stern diplomatic measures announced by India also included restrictions on the movement of the diplomatic staff of the Pakistan High Commission and their families to the municipal limits of Delhi. The last addition coming after many Pakistan High Commission staffers were arrested by India, allegedly red-handed while involved in spying activities.


Not surprisingly, Pakistan announced tit-for-tat measures in just an hour after India's announcement.


It finally seems that India is heading in the right direction in its relations with Pakistan. What was the point of hosting joint cultural seminars and announcing other CBMs (Confidence-Building Measures) when having cold, rather very cold, relations with Pakistan. The time for CBMs and other friendly overtures seems good to be over.


However, it is noteworthy that India should carefully weigh the pros and cons before launching a full-scale war or even limited strikes at terrorist camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). It should watch every step, as New Delhi should not forget that it is walking on a razor's edge. Any military action should be ably matched by endorsement from the West, which means diplomacy should be as strong as the build-up along the borders.


As a former Indian Foreign Secretary said, ''having US friendship may not amount to much, but its enmity could be disastrous.''


Among its diplomatic initiatives to isolate Islamabad on the international front, India can go to the UN Security Council, laying forth evidence of Pakistan's involvement in the Parliament attack and assert India's right of self-defence.


New Delhi has rightly rejected Islamabad's ''anytime, any place and at any level'' dialogue offer, the last being for the Kathmandu SAARC summit which begins early January in the New Year.


It is time India said what needs to be said on terrorism - as Prime Minister Vajpayee did on December 29 at the BJP's National Executive : ''All means and resources would be used to achieve the objective (curbing cross-border terrorism) and no means will be spared.''









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