the aftermath of the India Pakistan détente, if Indian military
leaders at this stage were to meet their Pakistani counterparts, we
are convinced that the process of reconciliation will move faster.
Such a dialogue should form part of the Agenda when the two nations'
reps meet on Feb 16.
NC Vij while commissioning INS Karmuk at GSRE confirmed that all was
quiet on the western front and today’s TOI middle tells of how
Army mules, which had strayed across the LOC were sent back.
Padmanabhan was asked if the military leaders of the two sides
should meet and he confirmed they should at mid level first and said
the talks at DGMO level are more serious –– but even golf
handicaps are discussed these days.
article that follows, ‘An Indian in Islamabad' is a
revealing piece. It was penned by the daughter-in-law of Gen K
Sundarji –– who in 1987 nearly took India to war with Pakistan
in 'Op Brasstacks', when he planned a theoretical thrust into
Rahimyar Khan salient in a surprise move and Pakistan retaliated by
moving its North and South reserves and checkmated India.
as the bigger power recently got passed in the 'Vote on Account' a
standing Defence Reserve Fund of $6 billion for new acquisitions and
with a $15 billion Defence Budget can afford to wage peace and yet
be ready for war.
Indian in Pakistan
February 4, 2004
For the first time in my life of over four decades, I am visiting
the "official enemy." I am an Indian in Pakistan.
am the only "German reporter" on board a chartered plane
full of Indian journalists, but I join my countrymen in peering
skeptically from the windows, almost as though a surface-to-air
missile would welcome us in Pakistani air space, out-of-bounds to
Indians for the past two years. Given the Indian blue of my
passport, I know that my work for a German publication will mean
little in Pakistan. Here, I am the Ugly Indian.
commonality is small comfort. My name is a dead giveaway. I could
only be a Hindu Brahmin, an arrogant, rich, loud, Kashmir-snatching,
Muslim-hating, river-water-hogging, cow protector. The highest and
worst caste, from which the crème de la crème of India's current
Hindu nationalist leadership happens to be drawn. An avid supporter
of the megalomaniacal vision of a "Greater India" (Akhand
Bharat) that would gulp up both Pakistan and Afghanistan.
want to place faith in President Pervez Musharraf's "modern
Islamic state" and its promise of a professional reception for
Indian journalists of both sexes in Islamabad. I am dressed in a
regulation black business suit. In my suitcase are plenty of long
scarves and shalwar kameezes, the baggy trousers and tunics common
even in India.
fashion statement misfires. The Holiday Inn's lobby teems with
security personnel meant to guard us, and they're all dressed in
shalwar kameez, chests draped with long white beards and guns. But
there's also a young policewoman in a black business suit. "It
gladdens the heart to meet an Indian," she says in our mutual
and lyrical language, Urdu, as she searches me. "I hope you'll
wear an Indian sari sometime during your stay here."
hotel is under Indian and Pakistani "joint occupation":
the media centers of the nuclear archenemies of the Subcontinent are
up on the roof and in the basement. Hamid Mir, author of an
unfinished biography of Osama bin Laden and star reporter of
Pakistan's uninhibited Geo TV, wards off questions about his project
in the Indian camp. Indian TV stars indulge young Pakistani
reporters in the "enemy" newsroom with their wordy
analyses, almost invariably on Kashmir.
on the wintry street, flags of both the foes flutter in rare unison.
My young taxi driver, Shahid, grins from ear to ear when I tell him
I am Indian and want to shop: for the Sufi music of his country, for
its hand-embroidered "tarkashi" muslin, for its dates and
figs and apricots.
takes me to the Super Jinnah market and curls up on his back seat to
wait. I admire a shawl, but the shopkeeper sets it aside
dismissively. "That one's Cashmere (Kashmir), you can get that
in India too," he says in all innocence, pulling out another.
A kabab maker places my lunch on the table. It does not resemble my
order and I protest. "Beewi," he mutters, wringing his
hands in embarassment. "You cannot eat that one ––
its beef, and you're a Hindu. You must take chicken instead."
8 p.m. when Shahid takes me to the Pakistan Foreign Office where I
want to achieve the impossible by changing my visa to include travel
outside Islamabad. As we turn into the parking lot, I expect a
"tail" to pull up behind us and a posse of security men to
crowd around our taxi. Neither happens.
rose-petalled tea and a detailed analysis of the Indian betel leaf
a digestive rage in Pakistan ––
my visa is altered in exactly the way I want. After two hours in the
freezing parking lot, Shahid drives me on to a reunion with a
Pakistani friend I last saw in Europe 18 years ago. Inside the
drawing room, I am the center of attention and overwhelming
hospitality. There is an open, unabashed admiration for booming
India; there is good-humored envy among the women for my so-called
liberatedness, there is sharp criticism of the dreadful pogroms on
minority Muslims in India's Gujarat, but there is also an
acknowledgement of the democratic credentials of the big neighbor
and the fairness of its judiciary.
glass is never empty, nor does the humor wane as the conversation
invariably shifts to Kashmir. "Give us Aishwarya Rai (a
top Bollywood star and India's former Miss World) and take
Kashmir," roar the Pakistanis jovially. "No, no, Kashmir
is yours, but on one condition," cry the Indians, "Bihar
(considered India's most lawless state) comes with it."
drunken guest, embittered by the peace moves between the two
countries, sways to his feet. "To hell with Kashmir, to hell
with Musharraf, to hell with India!" he shouts, waving his
fist. "This whole thing's a bloody sell-out!"
embarassed, a group of Pakistanis encircle the few Indians present
in a giant embrace, while someone carries the man to his car.
writer is South Asia bureau chief for the German magazine Der
Spiegel in New Delhi.)