Delhi, 11 September 2002
hundreds of Heads of State journey to New York to attend a Memorial
Service at Site Zero, where once the World Trade Towers stood as a
symbol of American pride, the high and low, all over the world would
take stock of the year that has gone by since Islamic militancy
bared its barbarous fangs. To the American nation, it was an
experience full of thrombosis. As President Bush puts it, "the
threat of terrorism is a permanent condition" that "is a
challenge as formidable as any ever faced and the problem is not
faced by the USA alone as no nation is immune, and all nations must
act decisively to protect against this constantly evolving
one understands it better that the Indian nation which has been
grappling with foreign supported militancy for more than a decade
and lost 10 times more lives than on that dreadful day. But Sep 11
did the world a favour by bringing home the dire truth to the sole
super power, which till date rested at ease in the relative safety
of home. After all,
one lasting message of 11 September was that conducting large and
dramatic terror attacks –– and the inevitable disruptions that
follow –– enables even small groups to challenge great powers.
Whilst the coalition forces put together by the US have been able to
clear most of Afghanistan from the supporters of militancy ––
Taliban and Al Qaeda, their top leaders and the roots remain
invisibly intact. Osama bin Laden and Mullah
Muhammad Omar, are
yet to be found dead or alive! The concept of ‘jihad’ as taught
to the young militants has not been tackled at the grass roots.
the geo-political chessboard, the US has made concrete gains out of
this unfortunate event by being the camel in the Afghan and
Pakistani tents, thus extending its tentacles ever strongly around
the Gulf and Central Asian oil. The infusion of US military forces
with all their modern technology weapons and sensors deep into the
region makes the place look like an American colony.
may take comfort in Musharraf’s transformation from a pariah to
thorough-bred but at the price of losing near total sovereignty
where even an Armitage can go anytime and twist their tail. For
India, it is the projection of American might both in its front and
back yards breathing down the neck.
for Kashmir, our body sore, the US surgical intervention is but
inevitable. We can only hope that the US administration and the
people understand India’s position and how critical Kashmir is to
its nationhood. Towards this end, we reproduce below a piece, which
graphically presents the Indian cause.
the survivors and families of those who died on that fateful day we
convey our condolences. To nearly 50,000 people who worked in the
World Trade Centre which was a city of their own, even a home, and
its destruction rendered them near refugees, we say, have faith in
the dynamism and strength of American society which has been
rehabilitating millions of people from all over the world since
Columbus set foot on its soil.
the Kashmir Problem?
way to Explain to Americans
I arrived in the United States in 1968 to pursue a doctoral program
at the University of Syracuse, the way married student housing was
set up ensured that one got to know one's neighbour, which in this
case consisted of an American family. Once we got to know Bob, as I
shall call him, and his wife well enough, he asked me one day,
"Why can't you Indians and the Pakis get along?"
did not at first quite know whether to take this as an accusation or
a question. I decided to field it as a question and asked myself,
“How might one answer this question in a way emotionally
intelligible to an American?” Then I tried the following tack.
I said, "I believe the U.S.A. has a sizable black population,
even ten to fifteen percent of its population".
he said, "sounds about right".
suppose the blacks claimed a part of the U.S.A. for themselves based
on the belief that blacks and whites cannot live together, even
though the whites said there is no need for this and all your rights
will be safeguarded. And suppose they went ahead anyway..."
how could they?"
Suppose, Bob, the American Revolution has failed and the British
were still here. And they introduced measured self-government in
response to the agitation that had led to the attempt to overthrow
them but had failed. But as they proceeded to do so, they said: you
American whites will always outvote the blacks. You don't like them
anyway. You don't marry them. You don't even eat with them. You
don't even drink with them. So we will designate a set number of
seats in the House of Representatives for blacks only, to be elected
only by blacks".
why?" Bob asked, incredulously.
prevent the black minority from being overwhelmed by the white
is paranoid", he said.
but paranoids have real enemies too. But anyway remember the British
are in control. They are the ones introducing the legislation for
constituting the House of Representatives not you, although it will
be your House and you will vote for it."
somehow it is time for the British to leave America. When they get
ready to leave, the blacks say to them, what are you doing, leaving
us to the wolves. The whites will overwhelm us. They are more than
us. They are more educated than us. They are more wealthy than us.
If you leave, we want our own country to live in".
this Bob shifted in the chair. "Their own country!" he
cried, "but blacks are all over America. It is their country
I continued, "but they are more concentrated in certain parts
of the south. 'At least we are majority here', they said. 'Give this
to us and if you don't do so, we built this country and we will tear
it down. You owe us this much'".
next?" He asked, after trembling in mock fright.
both laughed. Then I resumed. "So nobody wants bloodshed. So
the British say, let's divide the country. A part of the south will
be one country: black. The rest of America will be another country.
You can still call it America. It will be white".
is crazy", Bob cried, "what about the whites in black
America and the blacks in white America?"
British shrugged their shoulders and said: 'That's your problem. We
are leaving. Live in peace.”
Bob couldn't take it any more: "Why are you telling me all
this? I asked you why Indians can't get along with the
if all that I said came about, what kind of relations would such a
black and a white America have?"
pondered the matter for a while. "Not very friendly, I guess.
You Indians somehow always manage to end up blaming the
this point Bob's wife spoke up and said: "Now let me also get
into the conversation at this point and tell you what that part of
the country was called".
I asked. She smiled and said: "Kashmir. Here, try this apple
Sharma is Birks Professor of Comparative Religion at McGill
University, Montreal, Canada