Letters to Editor
The American led war in Iraq is not going as predicted by the Bush administration. The Iraqi resistance has been tenacious to date. This is causing frustration and further determination in the Anglo-American war machine. Civilians are now being targeted by the cruise missiles and more destructive means are being assembled. This is against the Geneva Conventions of war. But the Bush administration and the American media is dismissing it as Saddam's bringing this on Iraqis. The American media justified its showing Iraqi's as POWs but when American POWs were shown by Iraqis on the media then suddenly the American administration and media talks of violation of Geneva Conventions. In clear violation of UN security council, Bush launched this war to topple an independant state's regime.
It is clear that the American administration choses to apply the international law as it suits them with little regard for the other side. This is a criminal act amounting to war crimes. But no one is speaking out against it for fear that they may be the target next. If this is not cowardly then what else is? There are some members of American public who are conscientious and against this war but they are sadly under the threat from the blind patriotic fever sweeping under the American flag. The UN has lost whatever little credibility it had remaining under the incompetent Kofi Annan. Only a neutral third party can bring sense to the madness now.
India's present Vajpayee, Advani led government has failed to take a firm stand on this. As the founding member of the Non Aligned Movement it is India's duty to demand that America stop this atrocity against the innocent Iraqi civilians. Iraq has been the only secular state in the Arab world. It supported India through the oil crisis and over Kashmir according to Mr. I.K. Gujral. Is it not then in all fairness and sense of justice that India demand a ceasefire and withdrawl of American war machine from Iraq. Concessions from Saddam can be also demanded likewise to pledge to transfer power to a democratically elected party over a 5 year transition period. He is already 65 years old and if given this option he will be 70 by the time he must transfer power. Should he succumb earlier to age and health, no one will shed tears over that. But it allows a way out without losing face.
By not showing leadership now, India risks losing respect in contrast to the past actions of Indian leadership under Nehru and Mrs. Indira Gandhi. If Mrs. Gandhi could stand up to Richard Nixon during the Vietnam and Bangladesh genocides then one fails to estimate how impotent Vajpayee and Advani must be to remain silent spectators over the present genocide of Iraqi people. What goes around comes around and it may be that in a few years America will begin dismantling India as per their stategic interests. Then ironically no one will speak out for India.
THREAT - PERCEIVED AND REAL
In yet another gruesome incident, militants in Kashmir launched a pre-dawn attack on the innocents killing 24 people that included even women and children. Yes, this is in reference to 03/24/03 incident of Nandimarg, where the Kashmiri Pandits were asked to line-up, before being indiscriminately fired upon.
These kinds of killings that we witness and hear about have become all too familiar and frequent for us to either exhibit our emotions or even react in any way. It is hard to imagine the plight of those souls, who constantly live under this threat, which is both perceived and real. What is appalling is the thick-skinned approach of both the State and Central government who until this day have been so callous and insensitive to the feelings of the people who voted them to power.
Kashmir has been a flashpoint ever since the unified India broke into two. Pakistan could never accept the reality that Kashmiris decided to stay back with India during border demarcation. During Nehru's regime, the Pakis snatched a portion of that territory without even a fight from us and not too happy with just that fragment, they launched a campaign to usurp the whole of Kashmir. This, they have been doing with a two-pronged approach, i.e., one by waging proxy-war and the other being the diplomatic offensive using all international fora.
Post-independence period of 55 years saw Pakistan engage India in two wars, in both of which, they were beaten soundly and the remaining years spent in proxy war. Never was there any real peace between both. Proxy war, also known as cross-border terrorism is more expensive than a real war simply because proxy war is endless and will have to be fought on many fronts. So in Kashmir, there are various splinter groups owing allegiance to their masters, who are largely concentrated in Pakistan. These masters not only fund this proxy-war, but also arrange for acquisition of arms and ammunitions and train these mercenaries in weapons handling through organized camps. They are well networked, possess hi-tech gadgets, and keep in touch with one another from remote.
Everyone has a right to self-determination or freedom, but obviously this cannot be an alibi to killing the innocents. Acts of these can only draw a wedge between those heading the "so called freedom movement" and the rest, leaving no sympathizers. One enjoys his/her right as long as he/she doesn't trample upon the other man's right. This is the basic thesis of a "right" enshrined under democracy. Right now, we have been witness to the brutality that is taking place in Iraq with the perceived intent being the liberation of Iraq from Saddam Hussein when the real intent is to lay their hands on the oil resource. Here in India, we have a government which is a mute spectator to all the gory scenes happening in its own backyard and adamantly laid-back in its approach, showing no inclination to protect its citizens. We, unlike the US, do not have any ulterior motives. We can jolly well identify "targets of opportunity" in Pakistan and strike them with impunity. By act of this alone, shall we stand to uproot the cross border terror network and rid the people from fear and violence. Having voted to power, the government is obligated to perform its entrusted duty. It needs to act fast with its decision making and not just organize press briefings and issue senseless statements. Even as late as Friday, 03/28/03, we only saw our Foreign Minister saying, "India is prepared to enter into dialogue if Pakistan stops exporting terrorism". What can be more ridiculous than we offering peace when Pakis are going crazy with their guns? Are statements like these going to prevent the already suffering lot from further misery and devastation? Pakistan is a willful perpetrator of terrorism and initiation of dialogue with it is bereft of any rationale. What sort of eventuality are we preparing ourselves for - to be submissive and timid?
It is about time that our Union Government takes some quick and forceful decisions and gives our armed forces a freehand in dealing with this menace, which has been daunting us now for too long. The end of this scourge will also usher in a corresponding economic prosperity, both for India and Pakistan simply because the dragging proxy-war is entailing recurrent and mounting expenses causing unnecessary drain on the public exchequer. Why not we now for a change get into some real war and finish this whole thing in real time?