It’s all about a seat
Sir — J. Jayalalithaa’s histrionic past overwhelms her at times. As it did when she decided to disappear from the inauguration of a new departure terminal at the airport in Chennai (“‘Cornered’ Jaya lashes out at DMK”, May 6). She was, of course, playing the little girl then, hurt at not being offered the seat beside her favourite uncle. Had she acted her age, she would perhaps have reasoned that the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam Union minister, T.R. Baalu, might not have had a role to play in deciding the seating arrangement. If protocol has it that only Union ministers and governors (in a Central government function) and chief ministers and respective governors (in a state sponsored one) would be seated on either side of the prime minister, then Jayalalithaa’s little-girl act cannot possibly alter things. She had a much better peg in the decision of the civil aviation ministry to not name the new terminal after M.G. Ramachandran, as was planned originally.
Ajitava Roychowdhury, Calcutta
Sir — I am a Kashmiri Pandit, albeit one whose ancestors were prescient enough to see the writing on the wall and leave Kashmir some five centuries ago.
I view the latest diplomatic overtures by the general across the border with a mixture of bemusement and outrage. Pervez Musharraf has everything to gain by purporting to talk peace with India. He will not only get the Americans off his back, they will, in gratitude, probably give him funds to prop up his tottering regime. It will also give him time to insert more militants and armaments into Kashmir.
Worse yet, his take on the peace will revolve around a plebiscite in Kashmir. What validity would that have when the Hindus there have either been hounded out or butchered to the last woman and child' Perhaps a plebiscite in Kashmir would have to be preceded by what the Chinese did in Tibet; banish Tibetans to mainland China while corrupting the Tibetan population with Chinese.
At any rate, Musharraf has demonstrated that talk is cheap, if not worthless. Atal Bihari Vajpayee should not accept his offer for peace talks until a full year has gone by without a shot being fired in Kashmir. Otherwise, the slaughter of innocents will continue unabated, the economy will continue to bleed and, who knows, perhaps we will have to fight another war with hundreds of soldiers losing their lives for no purpose at all.
Sheel Tankha, Bhubaneswar
Sir — The American secretary of state, Colin Powell, was in Israel recently to chalk out a road map to solve the oldest political dispute between Israel and Palestine, while his deputy, Richard Armitage, visited New Delhi and Islamabad (“Cautious US leaves peace pace to Delhi”, May 11). Armitage used his visit to subtly put pressure on India to resume the peace process with Pakistan. It is interesting to note that Armitage never used the word “terrorism” while talking about Kashmir, but “violence”. Is this not an indica- tion of America’s support of Pakistan'
During his visit last year, Armitage had promised India that Pervez Mushrarraf would stop funding cross-border terrorism. Now, after his promise has proved to be hollow, he has claimed that his visit is not to give assurance about the steps Pakistan has taken to stop cross-border terror.
This can only mean two things: either the US has no powers to persuade Pakistan, or it has no intentions of doing so. In west Asia, the US is trying to convert the illegal occupation of Palestine into a legal one, while in Kashmir, it is determined to hand the valley over to Pakistan.
Jang Bahadur Singh, Jamshedpur
Sir — Richard Armitage has merely parroted Pervez Musharaff’s lies about “nothing happening across the line of control”. Didn’t Armitage say similar things last June' The problem with the Americans is that they say what they themselves want to hear.
The American solution for defusing the crisis in Kashmir is to ensure that India does not retaliate against Pakistan, whatever the provocation. Of course, the victims of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism are not Americans. The US conveniently glosses over the fact that al Qaida originated in the same swamp as Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Hizbul Mujahedin. Unfortunately, terrorists do not always follow the trajectory charted out by their masters. The Americans know what it is to be at the receiving end.
Aju George, Rourkela
Sir — It is clear why Richard Armitage should want to visit India when Parliament is not in session. But why did the government of India, overseeing the world’s largest democracy, not insist otherwise' India is not an insignificant world power, and it must resist dancing to the tune of the US. The US neither has any experience of democracy — its two dominating political parties cover a very narrow range of political ideology — and has little regard for the electoral process.
Shyamal Bagchee, Edmonton, Canada
Sir — The prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, has given in to the emotional blackmail and the machinations of the US in extending the olive branch towards Pakistan. He seems to have forgotten all the terrorist atrocities in Kashmir. For how long will we continue to get thorns for our roses'
Kavita Maheshwari, Calcutta
Sir — Pakistan is following a blow-hot-blow-cold policy with India under the supervision of the United States of America. It cannot be purely coincidental that whenever there is a temporary lull in terrorist activities, Pakistan asks for a resumption of talks. That Pakistan is not content with accepting the line of actual control as the international boundary is clear from the utterances of its leaders. Any weakness shown by the South Block under US pressure will prove fatal for peace and integrity of India.
Shyamal Chakrabarti, Kharagpur
Sir — The financial crisis that has hit the football industry in Europe is perhaps a good thing (“European clubs to downsize”, May 11). At least, this will bring the obscenely overpaid soccer stars down to earth. Not everyone is a Paolo Maldini, who has readily agreed to a 30 per cent pay cut in the interests of soccer and his club, AC Milan. The rest have a lot to learn from Maldini, and not only his defending skills.
Jayanta Datta, Chinsurah