India-Pakistan amity

Published : Feb 13, 2004 00:00 IST

The new-found bonhomie between Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is welcome ("Towards amity", January 30). The resumption of transport services, encouraging people-to-people contact and a host of other such confidence-building measures definitely portend a less hostile year ahead. But then, these things by themselves are not enough. If history is to be made, as claimed by Musharraf, the two leaders must move ahead from the sublime to the substantial.

Nothing poses more danger to the lives of the peoples of India and Pakistan than their nuclear weapons. Consequently, nothing would bring more cheer to their lives than a joint proclamation from these leaders freezing their nuclear weapons programmes.

They can go further and order a drastic cut in their defence expenditures and divert the surplus money to build more schools and hospitals. They can also reduce the troops deployment along the border considerably without compromising security.

These are the measures that the peace-loving people of the subcontinent expect of their leaders. And the leaders would do well to match their rhetoric with palpable action in strategic areas. Or else, the January 6 peace deal will go the Lahore or Agra way.

Dr. J. AmalorpavanathanChennai

* * *

The three-day summit of the seven South Asian neighbours in Islamabad was more of an India-Pakistan summit. It was heartening to know that there was no bad-mouthing between the two traditional rivals. Instead, a feel-good atmosphere prevailed, with the SAARC members signing the SAFTA Agreement, the Additional Protocol to the Regional Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism and the Social Charter. The summit also helped SAARC leaders realise that apart from waging a jehad against terrorism, the need of the hour was to wage a greater jehad against illiteracy, hunger, poverty and unemployment, a recurring point in all the speeches delivered at the summit.

The dropping of the `K' (Kashmir) word by Pakistan Premier Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali and CBT (cross-border terrorism) by Prime Minister Vajpayee in their respective speeches resulted in Musharraf agreeing not to "let any territory under Pakistan's control to be used to support terrorism in any manner". With a series of CBMs announced before the SAARC summit resulting in a tremendous desire for peace on both sides of the border and with Bhutan's exemplary help to India in driving out anti-India insurgents from Bhutanese soil, it seems that both India and Pakistan have realised their past mistakes and learnt that "though one can change history, one cannot change geography", and that there is no alternative to living as good neighbours.

However, as Musharraf cautioned, "this is just the beginning and not an end in itself", one needs to be cautious in one's approach in tackling the complicated issues, not reading too much into the historic meet. However, not only will Musharraf and Vajpayee go down in history as peace-makers of South Asia, but the people of India and Pakistan, particularly, those living in Jammu and Kashmir (including Pakistan-occupied Kashmir) will be able to live in a manner in which "the mind is without fear and the head is held high" and celebrate the 150th anniversary of the First War of Independence (1857) in the year 2007 along with the people of Bangladesh, as mentioned by Vajpayee. It is unfortunate that Pakistan chose to decline Vajpayee's suggestion, saying that the three countries (India, Pakistan and Bangladesh) have different interpretations of the history of colonialism in the subcontinent.

S. BalakrishnanJamshedpur

Picturesque Kashmir

Kashmir, for many years, has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. "The season of snow" (January 30) shows the other side of Kashmir. After long years of fighting, it seems now peace is making its way slowly into Kashmir. It is the responsibility of the media to highlight the scenic beauty of the otherwise terror-ridden Kashmir.

Kudos to Romesh Bhattarcharji for a pleasing picture-feast.

Pradeep Kumar M.Hyderabad

Advani's acquittal

A.G. Noorani's analysis "How Advani went scot-free" (January 30) has done much to show that Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani's discharge in the Ayodhya case on September 19, 2003 was no "honourable acquittal". It is true that the Sangh Parivar launched a disinformation campaign that Advani shed tears at the demolition of the Babri Masjid. The analysis reveals how the Judge of the Rae Bareli court did not consider the entire evidence and his judgment reasonably "violates the law as declared by the Supreme Court". It is sad that such a man is the country's Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. But more shocking is the role played by the Central Bureau of Investigation. Because the CBI is now directly under the control of the PMO, how can anybody expect fair justice?

Bidyut Kumar ChatterjeeFaridabad

The age of `neocons'

With the new United States Federal laws said to target terrorism, but actually subduing civil rights, the U.S. is anything but a country of free people now ("The age of `neocons'", January 30). The `Southern Strategy' referred to in the report sought to exploit "ingrained prejudices, which are mostly unconscious and are supported by sentiment rather than reason. It is a thousand times more difficult to overcome this barrier of instinctive aversion, emotional hatred and preventive dissent than to correct opinions, which are founded on defective or erroneous knowledge. False ideas and ignorance may be set aside by means of instruction, but emotional resistance never can. Nothing but an appeal to these hidden forces will be effective here."

The quote, not surprisingly, is from Hitler's Mein Kampf (Chapter VI; `The First Period of Our Struggle').

The current American policy-makers leave little to doubt about their Nazi character, call them neocons or by any other name.

R. SajanAluva, Kerala

CAS confusion

In "CAS confusion" (January 30), you have referred to a research finding that the Indian media market is not robust enough for the conditional access system as pay TV economics does not apply the same way in India as abroad. It would have helped your readers if a few lines were written on the differences. The study must have identified them.

To me, two differences appear probable. One is the large-scale operation of multi-service operators (MSOs) abroad compared to the small-scale operation of cable operators in India. Owing to this basic operational difference, imported CAS solutions are likely to put Indian cable operators out of business. But this is desirable from the point of view of broadcasters and MSOs.

The second probable difference is the 18 or so regional languages of India in which broadcasters transmit pay channels. While no Indian is likely to tune individually more than four language channels, the present system forces him to pay for all language channels. This is unfair.

The best CAS system, in my opinion, should be patterned on the telephone billing system. All pay channels should be available to all viewers and the consumer should pay by the hour for the channels he tunes in. This way, a Punjabi guest of a Malayali family is not deprived of Punjabi channels in Kerala and a Tamil friend of a Gujarati family is not deprived of Tamil channels in Gujarat.

Prem Dayal GuptaIndore

Dress code in France

This has reference to the article "Christianity as key factor" (January 30). While Islamic nations impose strict Islamic laws on non-Muslims who happen to live in their country, the French government's insistence on banning the headscarf used by Muslim girl pupils in schools cannot be branded as an anti-immigration policy, as it is within its power to do so. Why should there be discrimination in the dress code between Muslim and Christian pupils in public schools? When a dress code is insisted upon, all without exception should obey it. Religion and politics have no place in schools.

G.E.M. ManoharanCoimbatore

Poultry price

This has reference to the Special Feature on Coimbatore (January 30). On page 106, in the article "A tradition of industry", it is stated: "While the buying price from the farmer is Rs.2.50 a kg, the market price is Rs.28-29 a kg". One infers from this that the farmer gets a meagre amount and in the market poultry is sold at an extraordinarily high price. It would make both the farmer and the end-user to arrive at wrong conclusions. The Rs.2.50 a kg paid to the farmer is the charge (service charge) for growing the birds for a period of 42 days, and not the cost price. Inputs such as chicks, feed and the cost of daily visit of our technical personnel are borne by us. The market price mentioned as Rs. 28 to Rs.29 is correct.

Suguna Poultry Farm Limited is a growing concern acclaimed at the international level. The statement you published may give a wrong message to the readers.

B. SoundararajanManaging Director,Suguna Poultry Farm LimitedCoimbatore

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