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February 27, 2005
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February 27, 05




Page: 2/50

Home > 2005 Issues > February 27, 05

UPA turns the clock back by six decades
India taken for a ride or bus ride?
By R. Balashankar


Close, Closer, Closest: External Affairs Minister, Natwar Singh,
with Pakistan Cricket Board chief,
Shaharyar Khan and his wife in Islamabad on February 16.

On February 17, two news reports datelined Islama-bad were carried in the Indian press. One concerning the bus ride was there in eight-column banner headlines?the people-to-people contact, the historic, landmark confidence-building exercise so far, they screamed.

The other report was pushed to a corner, in a single column in most dailies, in the foreign page, which said ?War an option on Baglihar?. The statement by the Federal Education Minister and former ISI Director General, Qazi Javed Ashraf, in the Pakistani senate. Responding to the hostile criticism by the Opposition on India, he said, Pakistan should pin a little hope on World Bank efforts to resolve the issue. ?What is the option?? he asked the Opposition benches and added, without waiting for the reply, ?War is the only option.?

Terror never had it so smooth as under the UPA. India has always characterised Pakistan as the terror laboratory of South Asia, exporting agent provocateurs, smugglers and Jehadis.

Their menace was such that India had to fence its western border; it was only last month that the Defence Ministry with all flourish declared that the fencing was complete across the entire Indo-Pak border. And now comes the visa-less bus-ride between Srinagar to Muzaffarabad.

The last people who came on vehicles from Muzaffarabad to Srinagar were the raiders, who started the war in the third week of October 1947. They succeeded in slashing away the PoK.

Remember, the last people who came on vehicles from Muzaffarabad to Srinagar were the raiders, who started a war in the third week of October 1947. They succeeded in slashing away the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) from India, though they did not quite reach Srinagar, challenged as they were by the Indian Army at the edge of the airport and pushed back. That is how the present-day Line of Control (LoC) is drawn.

Pakistan's President, Pervez Musharraf, expressed the hope that the Kashmiri leadership would be on the first bus to Muzaffarabad. The Hurriyat Conference leaders were wanting to visit Pakistan, but were not willing to go there on an Indian passport. Now that may not be needed.

The UPA, like a skunk under attack, and hot hospitality of President Pervez Musharraf, has abandoned better counsel. The UPA is turning the clock back. And with it bringing back all the macabre memories, devious shenanigans, hatred and bloodshed.

If anybody is in doubt as to who is standing in the way of peace in the region, this statement by Javed Ashraf should clear it. Pakistan is still refusing to extend to India the ?most-favoured nation? status. At every world fora, it opposes India. It is opposed to India?s claim for membership in the UN Security Council. The infiltration across the border is still on.

Natwar Singh, a veteran diplomat, is not so gullible as not to understand the implications of the same. Remember, three months ago he was ridiculed by the columnists sympathetic to Pakistan, as a politician of the mindset of the Cold War era, out of sync with the modern times. For, he was then seen as standing in the way of the so-called amity between the two countries because of his hard talk.

Now he is hailed as the first Foreign Minister who visited Islamabad after 1989 and achieved dramatic success, ?He is the man who gave peace a chance,? they admire.

Some say he was acting under orders from UPA chairperson, Sonia Gandhi. Others believe that it was more a political coup by Natwar Singh to position himself as the darling of the soft-peddling, track-two media, for a possible elevation in the UPA, what with the entire team feeling fed up and let down by the lacklustre Prime Minister, who failed both on the political and economic fronts. While the Left is cheering the Nehruvian Natwar, it is daggers drawn on Manmohan on his privatisation-FDI binge.

By forcing India to agree on allowing the bus ride between the two countries across the LoC, Pakistan has proved a point?that it does not consider Kashmir a part of India. Why did it not insist on such conditionalities in the case of the Amritsar-Lahore bus ride? Indian authorities are not so naive as not to understand this. But the UPA is willing to prevaricate, which the Vajpayee government was unwilling to do and which was the bone of contention. In the process, Pakistan has scored a debating point.

This initiative is being cheered boisterously by the huge track-two lobby in India. There was wild celebration in Srinagar. The separatist elements in the Valley are mostly confined to the Jammu & Kashmir capital. The free access to India will give a live wire fillip to the secessionists in the Valley. And the fear of the people in India is that the floodgate to elements hostile to the country will make it easy for Pakistan to organise sabotage internally.

Pakistan has not made any concession. On all issues, it is India bending backwards to please them. What is India?s impatient hurry?

It is not for nothing that India spent millions of crores and lost thousands of young lives of Kashmiris, fighting the Pak-inspired terrorism. Pakistan is a rogue State. And a rogue is bothered only about its desires. We cannot compromise and please it. Pakistan is clear about its Kashmir design. Is India clear of its Kashmir agenda? Too much of talk on friendship will not bring peace. No ten years in the past sixty years have passed without a war. Pakistan might smile and smile yet prove a villain. We need not be burdened with the memories of the past, or anxieties of the future, if only the present was perfect. The elementary lesson in diplomacy is quid pro quo.




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