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The Quake that could Crack LoC

02 November, 2005

By Farzana Shah

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While the world is calling recent devastating earthquake as a mountain of a Tsunami and terming it the deadliest, India is busy in point scoring at the expense of human tragedy. United Nation report has termed the disaster beyond the capacity of any government to deal with and is flashing appeals for more help but the Indian mindset has not spared the calamity to prove itself a regional power.

When India offered Pakistan relief for quake-victims world applauded it for the gesture and the world media termed it another CBM.  Although, amongst the comity of the nations there was nothing unusual in it as the world`s response to such disasters is quite natural and is always based upon the humanitarian grounds.

Such media attention encouraged her further to come up with some clever ideas - ostensibly helping us but in reality to gain more political mileage - such as offering the copters and troops to cross over to our side of the LoC for relief and rescue operations. India, fully aware of the security sensibilities in the highly militarized zone, knew that Pakistan will decline the offer thus providing her with yet another chance of exploiting the situation.

The Indian attempt to keep IHK isolated for geopolitical reasons by not allowing foreign NGOs to undertake any rescue and help operations there which was also badly hit by the October 8 quake, leaving thousands dead and wounded shelter less, has also drawn criticism at home. Eminent Indian journalist Praful Bidwai while commenting on the situation in the wake of the earthquake wrote in an article "In fact disaster management and relief has long been politicized in the sub-continent. This has been glaringly obvious with the tsunami last December, when India was more anxious to project its power in the neighbourhood by dispatching relief teams than bringing succour to its own citizens in the South Andamans.  (In keeping with power consideration, India also offered the United States $5 million assistance for Hurricane Katrina - a weird thing to do for a state that cannot look after its own poor people.")

Praful Bidwai rightly said that offering assistance to others when India can not take care of its own people is strange, especially when during the earthquake, as the world has seen, how it failed to cope up with the devastation caused in the occupied Kashmir, though comparatively much lesser than that of in Pakistan. In Uri, a town with 30,000 population and Tanghar area, 1300 people died and 32,000 were rendered homeless by the quake, but little relief was afforded by the Indian government to the victims.

India seemed to be more concerned to offer helicopters to Pakistan than starting any relief operation in the valley where even after three days of the holocaust no relief could be provided to the victims.

Yasin Malik - the President of the Jammu and Liberation Front speaking in the PTV `News Night` programme while stressing upon the  modus operandi of  distributing relief goods disclosed that in Kanwal Kot village of Uri which was hit by the quake, people did not have any water to drink as the Indian government had failed to reach them out even after the passage of three days of the quake.  He further said that they retrieved 162 dead bodies who had died because of thirst in Kanwal Kot.

The BBC correspondent when asked a boy from the same Kanwal Kot village about the relief to them and the Indian offer to Pakistan, the boy could only muse that despite Indian offers to Pakistan India had not come to their aid.

If the Indians were serious to help Pakistan they could have sent the relief goods immediately instead of making proposals and forwarding impossible ideas to implement. Their much publicized first consignment of relief goods included only 50 tents in it. There were hundreds of ways that India could  help Pakistan including sharing of the seismic data with Pakistan and opening the LoC as President Musharraf has proposed allowing Kashmiris on either sides to help each other. 

Praful Bidwai also wrote in his article, "India generously offered relief material to Pakistan but it has refused to share seismic data with Pakistan for the fear that the data could be used to detect the precise location of its any future nuclear experiment (including non explosive tests called hydro nuclear tests).  In reality such test sites are known to the entire international science establishments through thousands of seismographs placed all over the globe. The real reason for India`s refusal lies in its nuclear ambitions and its opposition to the comprehensive test ban treaty. Although this would still not allow earthquake prediction, it could substantially cut the response-time to earthquake and save lives."

Interestingly India emphasized on joint relief efforts along the LoC.  However,  when President Musharraf proposed opening of the LoC at five points India seems reluctant and insists upon the opening it at three points only and that too with many conditions. The Indian team arrived on Friday to discuss the modalities for the opening of these three points, but it is not known that how many days it will take to reach a final decision on the issue. One thing, however,  is clear that as the time passes there may not be any use for opening even these three points as the access to Nellam Valley from Indian side will be denied by the snows after 15 to 20 days leaving only the Jhelum valley road to reach the victims. Another disturbing aspect is the Indian decision of not allowing Kashmiris from Pakistani side to cross over to IHK. Surprisingly, all Indian assistance ranging from copters, to opening the LoC and monitory assistance are bound with one or the other condition. India would offer Pakistan $25 million for quake victims but Pakistan will buy the cement and other construction material from India with the money.
The Indian Defence Minister Parnab Mukherjee was quoted by reporters as saying "No romanticism could be attached to it." There are ground realities, which we have to recognize."  He further said that an "earthquake could not change the history of 50 years."

Now, if India has ground realities, could Pakistan be blamed for its security concerns to accept Indian offer of its army`s joint operation along the LoC and use of its copters with the Indian pilots flying them over the sensitive areas with all the modern imaging instruments onboard?

President Musharraf made a sincere offer that could have been used for strengthening the peace process between the arch rivals but unfortunately India has blown it away. Ironically, the catastrophe offered an opportunity when the Indians could have risen above the petty and viewed the opportunities it offered with a farsighted maturity for the future weal and progress of the region in particular and the sub continent in general. The calamitous earthquake could prove to be the harbinger of  a new change - a change for the better, a friendlier change - in the region and for both the countries to live in peace and prosperity for ever.


Reader Comments:

Here is the kashmir`s solution

It is high time pakistan recognise LOC as international border for the both side of the Kashmiri people.
The leadership of Pakistan, The jihad council, the puppet organisation of APHC should understand that India is not going to to give up one inch of Kashmiri land what India has.
If the problem has not solved in the last 57 years what makes them to think that it will be solved in near`s future.
India is strong enough to fight Hizbul Muzhahiddin trained terrorist for the next 100 years which has money and its one billion people.
Sooner the Pakistani leadership realises this millions of $ spent on fighting could be diverted for the betterment of Kashmir, Pakistan and India.

Finally the people of Pakistan hav to realise that their leaders boast of getting Kashmir shortly is an illusion which is not going to happen, so that they can stay in power whether elected democratically or through military conquest by power hungry generals.

I sincerely wish this message reaches leadership of Pakistan and the people of Pakistan, so that whole of south Asian region can become region of peace.

As a result, by having fruitful economic co operation
among south asian countries , we can expect drastic change for higher standard of living and we can avoid countless killings.

Hope this new dawn can bring peace and prosperity to our people.

Ramesh Gondkar

Ramesh Gondkar, United Kingdom - 01 December, 2005

One can celearly observe from all the comments from Indians on this article that who is spreading hatred. Pakistanies or Indians.As most of ypu if had went through most of the discussion forums or such internet newpapers must have seen that they always spit venom against Pakistan. and all these ecomments are also full of hate for Paksitan rather thn comments on article so plz u Indians also stop this hatered and look into ur own deeds. As for Kashmir well if u r not going to let an inch of it so do we.
If u have lots of money and resources to fight the freedom fighters than Why on earth you peopel despite having thousands of soldiers out there could not crsuhed the freedom struggle just because Kashmiries are just in their demadn

Rohan, Pakistan - 01 December, 2005

Kashmiris under occupation !!

Dayal Jee, you could give any color to their freedom fight as you feel pleased, but no excuses are going to work. So long as Kashmiris remain united as one integarted body of consortium of many factions, no occupier even as strong as Britain onetime, would be able to keep Kashmiris under continued occupation and bondage. The leadership needs to be very vocal all over the world in every country. The problem with you, Dayal Jee, is that on one hand you wish to trumpet the slogan of democracy and human rights in India but on other hand you do not have the courage to practice that in Kashmir. Your style is that, yes, you do have the freedom of speech but that is of the consenting view, and there is no room for dissenting views. In the free and independent Kashmir all religions have freedom to practice their faith. Kashmiris need to remain united like a rock and do not let petty differences hurt your unity. You fight a diplomatic battle with your open-ness to the west and put pressure on India thru the west for supporting the right of self determination as contained in UN resolutions that was in recent past years was adopted by UN & implemented in East Temor. It is the battle of perseverance, the one who has the most in long term is the one going the win, Bravo Kashmiris. We are dying to see you set an example to then let tourism grow both from India and Pakistan and from all over the world and increase a high per capita income to educate the masses.

Probono Public, Pakistan - 02 December, 2005

Free Kashmir

Ramesh Jee, past history is the witness, as all occupying powers in the past never ever wanted to and thought of leaving as you are trumpeting, but all of them sooner or later got the shoe and left, defeated and abandoned. So don`t say never never when talking about Kashmir. Britain occupied India with similar intention of never leaving, and same with French and other occupying powers. Indian security forces have killed in excess of 90,000 people as state terrorism, and if Kashmiris have not got their rights since 1930`s there is much of their own internal dis-unity to be blamed. But in recent years they have realized that an extreme sense of unity is needed to get the occupying Indian forces out of their homeland. So don`t say never again, . . . Gandhi`s India is the example, why you don`t apply the same principle to Kashmir ?

Probono Public, Pakistan - 04 December, 2005

The real Kashmir solution..

The only sustainable way to solve the Kashmir problem is to go back to the root of the problem itself - the partition of India and pakistan ! Either by way of merger or by acquisition, the two sibling states need to reunite - and the Kashmir problem will be automatically solved !

Peter Moore, United Arab Emirates - 12 March, 2006

Kashmir Conflicts

Dear Sir/Madam,
I'm simply an outsider, a student of history. My observation tells me that all these problems are created by British, before they left 'Kingdom of India' aftrer ruling it over 200 years. Not just Kashmir, but Pakistan, Bangaladesh belong to India.

Looking at India's government, one can easily say that there was no discrimination of minorities (including Muslims) in India.

The western press may call it a 'HINDU' country, the President is a very learned Muslim, the Prime Minister is a Sikh, with a Ph. D in Economics from England, and on the top of all that the President of the ruling congress party is a Christian woman born in Italy. Anyone who dares to call that India is not the world's leader in normalizing the religious conflicts is ignorant.

I do understand that both Mushaarf and Dr. Hkan were born in India. Both should be ashamed of their charecter and behaivior.

Is it true that even if Musharraf wants to normalize relations with India, the Talibani dominated control on the local politics will kill him instantly. He has to worry about his life, obviously. It's understandable, in a way.

There can be another solution to this problem:
- Simply make Pakistan and Bangaladesh as part of Indian terrotery, as additional two more states. India already has a popular language as Urdu, Punjabi and Bengali.

When all of unite, we can easily defete UK, USA, EU, Russia, China and even Japan.

Send me your reply. Here we have a chance to attain Glory that was and is possible.

Thank you.
Richard Thomas

Richard Thomas, United Kingdom - 26 March, 2006

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