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Calcutta Diary

The architects of national decisions that matters have actually played themselves into an impossible corner. They must eat the cake and have it too; they must cultivate democratic pretensions and yet be impatient with democratic opposition. An impasse of this nature inevitably leads to the mindless acceptance of the proposition: my anti-terrorism is superior to yours. It is then a smooth passage to the brilliant corollary that if my police are nincompoops, I must have legislation which decrees detention sans trial.

Not by War Alone

A realistic policy on the response to the December 13 terrorist attack on parliament demands that we consolidate the significant diplomatic gains that have already been made and evolve a well-considered, multifaceted strategy, make an intelligent assessment of the pros and cons of the different options and act with a degree of self-confidence and faith in our national values.

Goodbye to Non-Alignment and All That

The national interest, if defined narrowly, does not make for very good foreign policy. It might make sense, here and now, to try to enlist America on the Indian side of the dispute over Kashmir and to celebrate the turn of events in Afghanistan as a vindication of India's own support for the 'Northern Alliance'. In the long term, however, it demonstrates a shocking combination of strategic myopia and cynicism.

Pakistan : Islamic Threat to Stability

Following the Pakistan government's support to the American-led actions, the Jamaat-i-Islami, has emerged as a leading and vociferous critic of the Musharraf regime. However, as unfolding events demonstrate, and weighed down by its role in Pakistan's past, the Jamaat finds itself isolated and playing much of a lone hand.

Only Alternative to Global Terror

The ongoing strikes on Afghanistan have once again focused attention on the dual strands of terrorism that bases itself on communalism and imperialism. Both strands seek to repress various freedoms and in cases, even justify the human rights violations on the part of their perpetrators. The need then is to uphold virtues of secularism, for only a truly secular state can safeguard human and democratic rights for all concerned. Further, institutions and machinery to deal with violations of fundamental rights become equally vital in situations where governments persistently fail to do so.

Not Just America's War

The war against terrorism is not merely America's war but that of the world order against disorder.

September 11: Many Messages

The terrorist attacks of September 11 hold major messages for the US, the rulers of Muslim countries and for terrorists who speak in the name of Islam.

Terrorism: Hiroshima to New York

Integral to lasting democracy, liberty and freedom is banishment of poverty, ill-health, illiteracy, superstitious beliefs and backwardness on the one hand and facilitating the creation of institutions that defend these values on the other. Criminals and terrorists in today's world cannot prosper or become a major threat to democracy, liberty and freedom unless one or more states or influential sections within those states directly or indirectly sponsor them. Those who have sowed the poisonous seeds cannot disown responsibility for the bitter fruits. Why successive US administrations have always chosen to encourage and support the most retrograde forces in countries where they have chosen to intervene is something that needs to be examined more thoroughly.

Beyond Afghanistan

The bomb and missile attacks by US and British aircraft on targets in Afghanistan connected with the Taliban regime and with Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda organisation, which got under way on Sunday, had been prepared for elaborately from the moment the US pinpointed bin Laden and Al Qaeda as the prime suspects in connection with the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. As the world watched with bated breath, the US and Britain had set about putting together the most awesome assembly of military personnel and materiel all around Afghanistan for precisely this operation. A relentless diplomatic effort too had been mounted to get an impressive number of countries to permit combat aircraft to use their air-space and some also to agree to the stationing of troops on their territories. The air attacks on Afghanistan have been on for less than a week and there is no indication yet of when the expected, but far more problematic, land operations would begin. But already it is clear that, even if the US government’s most optimistic expectations of it are fulfilled, the military effort directed at Afghanistan cannot be the all-important, or the most effective, element in the success of the drive against terrorism that it has been made out to be by the Bush administration.

Future of a Fatal Symbiosis

Caught between a forgetful people encouraging their rulers to go berserk in their homicidal revengefulness, and a starving people imprisoned in a cage of religious memories created by fanatical zealots who are bent on an equally vengeful suicidal retaliation, the world in the new millennium seems to be readying itself for another catastrophe.

Punjab Terrorism: Truth Still Uncovered

Terrorism in Punjab: Understanding Grassroots Reality by Harish K Puri, Paramjit Singh Judge, Jagrup Singh Sekhon; Har-Anand Publications , New Delhi, 1999; pp 200, Rs 395.

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