Life is for a cause
INTENTION: I do not know why Pakistan has overreacted to Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh's reiteration that if cross-border terrorism
remains unabated the supporters of peace process would be weakened. I
got frantic calls from TV stations in Karachi to react. What the Prime
Minister has said makes sense.
How can people in India be convinced of Pakistan's intention if it
allows its territory be used for violence in Kashmir and elsewhere?
Islamabad may not admit the charge.
But this is the perception at this end and it is not confined to one
area or one set of people. It is all over. When Defence Minister Pranab
Mukherjee also says that infiltration from Pakistan has increased and
that the training camps for terrorists have expanded, it becomes a
matter beyond accusations and counter-accusations.
The government at Islamabad has to take the allegation seriously and
not just brush it aside as its foreign office tends to do.
Although its demand to produce evidence has weight yet those who
indulge in such activities do not leave any trace behind. Even then New
Delhi has reportedly given proof which may not be 100 per cent perfect
if it is passed through a fine comb.
But it is there. America too has made some satellite pictures
available to show the existence of training camps. India's persistent
allegation is that even when the two sides are having the best of
equation at peace talks, the training camps are not dismantled.
New Delhi's surmise is that President General Pervez Musharraf keeps
them as a trump card he wants to use when the d,tente process falters.
India's experience, in fact, is that the terrorists coming from
across the border are in proportion to the pace of peace progress.
Mumbai blasts are said to be part of that strategy. The talks were not
making any headway.
What is new in this is the role of home-grown terrorists. New Delhi
has reluctantly conceded that a few Indian terrorists participated in
Maybe, their complicity is being underplayed but it is not being
ruled out. Islamabad only plays up that admission and tries to absolve
its terrorists or those who come through Pakistan from West Asia in the
name of jihad.
Terrorism is not a football which should be kicked from one side to
another to register advantage.
Both countries are prey to it. They should have jointly thought of
steps to deal with it. Since India puts all the blame on Pakistan,
Islamabad must offer some credible explanation to disprove the charge.
A team of eminent people from both countries can do the job because
the jingo nationalism has not yet contaminated all.
Still better would be to have an independent team of foreign
countries, possibly through the UN or the Commonwealth, to go into
allegations as well as the evidence which America or other countries may
This does involve foreign powers in the bilateral problem of India
and Pakistan _ something New Delhi abhors _ but it is one way of putting
India's doubts to rest.
The present situation of New Delhi believing something and Islamabad
not conceding even a bit of it _ about cross-border terrorism _ has put
the skids on everything.
Contacts are still there but only superficially. And things like
sending out lower-level diplomats from both sides will only increase. In
the tit-for-tat climate, governments can do nothing else.
Still New Delhi should not have retaliated immediately to the
expulsion of Kaul and waited to see what else was up the Pakistani
sleeve. Immediate counteraction shows alacrity, not maturity.
Maturity is what India has to show when dealing with Islamabad which
is intractable and wallows in its nasty attitude towards New Delhi. If
nothing else, it can unilaterally take measures to increase
Today most steps it has taken are sloppy and lack in spirit. Take for
example, the bus from Amritsar to Lahore. The fare works out to be Rs 11
per kilometre and it does not include the money spent to travel to Delhi
to get a visa.
Knowing the Pakistan government does not want people-to-people
contacts to come good _ there are several examples to prove this _ at
least India should unilaterally do something to make travel easy.
Low fare and relaxation in visa restrictions are the two measures
which can go home in Pakistan. People there want to visit India and
their number is in thousands.
They cannot do so because Islamabad is the only place from where visa
is available and that too for three cities. Reciprocity is not a virtue;
it is aping others to cut one's throat. Why can't a visa office be
opened at Karachi? If this depends on how soon Pakistan office will come
up in Mumbai, India's foreign office should say so.
The fear that relaxation of visa restrictions will result in more
terrorists coming into India is exaggerated. They do not come through
They have their own routes. The long border with Pakistan cannot be
Nepal is one country which terrorists have used to walk into India.
Better and judicious facilities to issue a visa may pour cold water on
the terrorists' surreptitious ways of entry.
True, Islamabad is impossible at times.
But people in Pakistan can judge when a sincere India approaches them
for contact. In fact, they have felt uneasy and disturbed because of
halt in the peace process.
Some 11 MPs and 20 others who crossed the border to take part in the
celebrations on the night of August 14-15 show defiance to hate-India
campaign that the mullah and the military have blessed. It was an
inspiring scene at the Wagah border when half a million people went in
frenzy to find the Pakistani friends in their midst.
What was annoying at the retreat at sunset on August 14 was
Pakistan's tactics to disturb the usual rhythm of cooperation at the
border. The Pakistani authorities introduced this time the recitation of
holy Koran so that the slogan for India-Pakistan Dosti would not be
I do not like the ever-new ways devised to keep the peoples of the
two countries distant. Already 59 years have been wasted since
independence. People of peace and goodwill must assert themselves on
both sides. We owe it to the region and to its bright future.
"Man's dearest possession is life, and since it is given to him to
live but once, he must so live as not to be seared with the shame of a
cowardly and trivial past, so live as not to be tortured for years
without purpose, so live that dying he can say: All my life and my
strength were given to the first cause of the world _ the liberation of