What a pleasure it is to occasionally read the full text either of an important speech made by a statesman or a statement issued by a notable organisation whose views are greatly relevant?
When several leading nuclear scientists recently met Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh to discuss matters relevant to the Indo-US nuclear deal, not much came to be reported. But the scientists themselves issued an appeal to the Members of the Parliament that many papers ignored. But not the New Indian Express, Bangalore or The Hindu (August 15). It was an important statement that the citizen had the right to read to come to his own conclusions. It was signed among others by Dr H.N.Sethna, former Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, Dr M.R. Srinivasan and Dr P.K. Iyengar, both also former chairmen of the same Atomic Energy Commission, Dr A.Gopalakrishnan, ex-chairman, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, Dr S.L. Kati, former Managing Director, Nuclear Power Corporation, Dr A.N. Prasad, former Director, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Dr Y.S.R. Prasad, former Chairman and Managing Director, NPC and Dr Placid Rodrigues, former Director, Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research?distinguished men all, and they had a point to make.
One would have expected all newspapers to carry their statement in full, considering its importance. But times, alas, have changed. Among the points raised by the joint-statement issued by the scientists is one that is highly relevant. It said: ?If the US Congress in its wisdom, passed the Bill in its present form, the ?product? will become unacceptable to India, and, diplomatically, it will be very difficult for our Parliament to workout, and insist on, the ground rules for the nuclear deal, at this stage itself.?
The statement made by our senior nuclear scientists is of extraordinary relevance. It is said that many newspapers just ignored it or managed to give a summary of it. Or take an article written by Benazir Bhutto in which she asserts that for Pakistan to cease to be the petri dish of the pandemic of international terrorism it has to free itself from the yoke of military dictatorship. This point has been made in the past but for Smt Bhutto to make this statement at this point in time has great relevance especially when she doesn'thesitate to condemn the past nexus between the United States and the Muslim terrorists including both the Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
The article was published on its op-ed page once again by The Hindu whose op-ed pages are frequently must reading for anyone who wishes to be politically enlightened. Or take The Hindu'sissue of August 17, which carries an excellent article on the recent bombings in Mumbai which noted that ?a wealth of detail has emerged on just who carried out the operations and why…? Its author, a Hindu staffer, Praveen Swami must be in close touch with important information sources in Delhi. What he has provided is very rich material. That same issue also carried an article by Pallavi Aiyar, writing from first hand knowledge, that ?form not a single kilometer of highway in 1988, China now has a world class network of some 41,000 kms of highways, second only to the US in size?. The article like the one by Praveen Swami follows in the category of ?Must? reading. That is real journalism.
One of the better class op-ed pages belong to The Pioneer which reproduced on August 14, a column written by Irfan Husain in the Pakistani newspaper Dawn. It is a remarkable column in the sense that it reflects what is in the minds of Pakistanis these days. If Husain is to be believed, ?the objective truth is that the Pakistan Army no longer has the stomach for a war with India? and ?its corporate interests?and they are vast and varied?lie in normalising ties with its old foe?. There is much to be learnt from Shri Husain. He says, for example, that ?by working tirelessly to crush the centrist parties of Nawaz Sharief and Smt Benazir Bhutto, (Musharraf) has ensured the ascendancy of the religious parties and as he has been forced to take on the Taliban and their supporters on American insistence, he finds he cannot simultaneously take on the Kashmir jehadis.? Also says Husain, Musharraf ?is in no position to stamp out outfits like the Lashkar-e-Toiba.?
Husain report that ?the ISI and sundry intelligence organisations have also been harbouring violent militias to further their agenda in Kashmir.? That is plain speaking. That Shri Husain can write so freely about Pakistani politics gives at least some brownie points to Musharraf. Husain says that when Maulana Azhar Mahmood, the fire-breathing cleric freed in the Kandhar hijacking in 2000 openly recruits for the Kashmir terrorist activities what kind of signal does that send? And then he asks: ?And when Dawood Ibrahim, the mafia boss widely believed to be behind the Mumbai blasts in 1993 is reported by a Pakistani magazine to be living comfortably in Karachi, how do we distance ourselves from charges of harbouring a criminal?? And then, for good measure Husain adds: ?Clearly, the fate of well over a billion people cannot be allowed to remain in the hands of a few fanatical groups and demented spooks. The Mumbai blasts brought Indian suspicions surging to the fore. The only way to emasculate the enemies of peace is to remove the cause that gives them the excuse to kill. Over the years, many proposals for a resolution of the problem has been floated. Surely one of them should be acceptable to the three parties? The alternative is what we have just seen, a powder keg waiting for as park.?
What these views indicate is that there surely is a large section of people in Pakistan who are tired of their government'senforced animosity towards India and want to come to terms with its eastern neighbour. Not all Pakistanis hate Hindus?and India. The Indian media, in the circumstances, needs to do something more than run page 3 stories. It must provide its Indian readers the thinking of the Pakistani intellectuals who, surely, do represent a substantial segment of Pakistani opinion? There is need for more openness. Interestingly, on August 9, The Pioneer had carried another op-ed article, this one from Kanchan Gupta who quoted another Pakistani paper, The Nation as reporting that India had offered Jammu and Kashmir ?autonomy? calling for the return of Jammu and Kashmir to its pre-1953 constitutional condition. Surprisingly, hardly anybody has made an issue out of it. There has been no mention of this in the Indian media, though there has been no formal denial either about The Nation report by the External Affairs Ministry.
What on earth is going on behind our backs, one wonders.