ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Old Hands at an Old Game

THERE have been three-and-a-half wars (the little skirmish in the Rann of Kutch counting as half a war) between them (the Pakistanis) and us. Add to that the holocaust of the partition. One would think that this experience would make the people (who matter) in New Delhi and Islamabad pause and think before they turn relations between them into a theatre of the (cruel) absurd. Obviously, that is not the case. The subcontinental politicians and statespersons are a special and unique breed. It was in December 1989 that George Fernandes, then railway minister, came out with a statement on Tibet, In no other cabinet system would a railway minister issue a statement which has a bearing on foreign policy. Nawaz Sharief, the former prime minister of Pakistan, has announced that Pakistan is a nuclear power. Issues of defence, security and foreign policy would not be talked about so lightly and irresponsibly in other democracies. But South Asian culture or the essential unity of erstwhile India is demonstrated usually through such acts of irresponsibility. Fernandes provided an example; Nawaz Sharief has provided another; and Benazir Bhutto's proposed and now frustrated trip to the Gaza Strip is yet one more.

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