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EDITORIAL: 16-30 June 2002

Mutual destruction itch

The war talk between India and Pakistan at times seems real - a kind of hide-and-seek game in which both the nations excel. Until a few days back war looked round the corner if one went by the way the two born-enemies in the Subcontinent flexed their tongues and muscles. It is sixth consecutive month when the twin nations are standing eye-ball-to-eye ball after deploying their war machines in full gear. Though rhetoric has eased since Armitage visit, armies are still on the borders.

Both the countries are unmindful of the consequences of a war, oblivious of a conventional war turning into a nuclear one as both the Third World poverty-stircken nations possess the demonic nuclear weapons. The whole world is looking in horror and saner voices, within the area and without, continue advising restraint with little effect.

Will belligerency and jingoism solve the issues and problems the two countries face? Will war, if fought, solve the issue of Kashmir? Is any of the two nuclear nations going to win this bloody war which will turn into a nuclear one as soon as one side senses defeat. 

As far as the question of solving any of the problems confronting the Subcontinent is concerned it is sure that the war will solve none. Anyone talking of destroying one country or the other must be naïve if not outright insane. No country, either India or Pakistan, has the requisite power to destroy the other or end the other’s existence. 

One defence analyst after another has conceded that India despite having conventional superiority over Pakistan does not enjoy the sort of fire-power required to win a decisive war without paying a high price. And Pakistan, despite its reckless nuclear talk, cannot think of taming India by issuing nuclear threats. India possesses a larger number of nuclear warheads than Pakistan. It will be self-destructive for both the nations to endlessly go on harping on war. It will cripple both the poor nations.

What then should be the course of action for both the nations? Should they continue their belligerent talk or think of an alternate route to get out of this mess and solve all the outstanding bilateral issues? To get out of this mess they have to do exactly what they will do after a devastating war: sit on the dialogue table and talk with an open mind and settle with much less a cost. 

The endemic Indo-Pak animosity will continue as long as both the countries do not take this course to solve the central issue of Kashmir. Other issues will be solved automatically. It is not the people of Jammu & Kashmir alone who are sitting on the tinder box. The fate of whole 1200 million people of the two nations is at stake. An open dialogue will help solve this mess which continues for over half a century. It will lead to a situation of permanent peace. It will also help eradicate tension, hatred and animosity between the two estranged brotherly nations and open the gates of economic cooperation that will help both of them. You have experimented with war a number of times, now experiment with dialogue.


Perennial dual policy 
The SIMI witchhunt continues while the Sangh activists roam around to terrorize the masses in the country and issue one threat after another which would be enough in any other country to put them behind bars for years. Even after the pogroms of Gujarat the whole country has been treated to pictures showing Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena elements being trained in firearms. The people who, according to umpteen local and foreign reports, organized the worst ever pogrom in the Indian history, are again publicly threatening to repeat ‘Gujarat’ all over the country. It looks as if the present dispensation has a perennial dual policy while dealing with hotheads of one community and thugs of its own ilk.

Two former SIMI office-bearers were arrested recently for allegedly ‘plastering posters’ in South Delhi’s Okhla area. They have been charge-sheeted under POTA, the infamous legislation expressly legislated not for such offences but to fight ‘terrorism’. There is no proof yet that they were part of any subversive plan. As feared by many, here is a clear case of the misuse of POTA in the hands of the present paranoid rulers.

More than 130 people, including youth and community elders, continue to languish in a jail in Surat after they were arrested on suspicion of being SIMI members. They were arrested from a conference on education held on 27 December. Prior permission was obtained before organizing the conference, yet they were arrested and, according to reports, they were severely tortured and have still not been granted bail. On the other hand, the terrorists belonging to VHP and Bajrang Dal have been given a free hand to do as they please not only in Gujarat but elsewhere in the country. Togadia has been continuously provoking Muslims and Christians.

It is bewildering why SIMI has been singled out for ban, arrests and torture when it has never been charged with killing people, raping women, destroying economy or terrorizing any group. It is time this injustice is redressed. The quicker this is done the better for the country.

 
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