With friends like these
Sir — The death of 8 Iraqi policemen in yet another case of “friendly fire”from the occupying American force is a sad commentary on the situation in post-war Iraq (“US friendly-fire kills 8 Iraq policemen”, Sept 13). It is surprising that despite the United States of America’s claim of minimizing collateral damage as far as possible, such incidents continue to claim the lives of innocent Iraqis. The US has tried to earn a pat on its back by building an image of itself as the country which freed the Iraqi population from the iron rule of Saddam Hussein. However, such fatal lapses as the death of the 8 policemen not only aggravate the fragile working relationship between the Americans and the Iraqis but also punch holes in the American’s tag of “liberators”. George W. Bush must also be careful because the mounting American casualties expose this as a lie. The American president should remember that his theory of “shock and awe” might be effective against a weak opposition but it does not have the fire power to hide a monstrous lie.
Paromita Sen, Calcutta
Brothers in blood
Sir — An improvement in relations with Israel may have been long overdue and Indian foreign policy may have sorely needed a dose of realpolitik, but Swapan Dasgupta goes a little overboard with his suggestion —“their war is our war too” (“It’s our war too”, Sept 12). This runs the risk of repeating the very Nehruvian fallacies of the Sixties which recent governments in New Delhi are trying not to repeat .Why should the United States of America’s enemies be India’s enemy, when New Delhi’s enemy can’t be Washington’s' During his visit to India, the deputy prime minister of Israeli declared that Iran was the hub of international terrorism. So are we now expected to declare Iran as a state sponsoring international terrorism' Or break off diplomatic ties with Lebanon for its alleged support to the Hizbollah' Or ban Syrian over-flights over Indian airspace' Only national interests should guide cooperation with Israel and the US. We may agree on the definition of terrorism, but we face it from different quarters. For Israel it’s Lebanon, Iran and Syria; while for the US it’s North Korea, Syria, Lebanon and Iran. But India faces state-sponsored terrorism from Pakistan only. For all New Delhi’s optimism, India’s war on terrorism has not become Washington’s war on terrorism. So their war is not our war — it will only be so when our enemy is targeted.
Meraj Ahmed Mubarki, Calcutta
Sir — Swapan Dasgupta welcomes Ariel Sharon’s visit to India saying that it signals its “willingness to transform itself from a passive victim of terrorism to an active combatant in the war against terror”. As a senior journalist, Dasgupta must be aware of India’s longstanding stand on Palestine — its support for the Palestinians who have become refugees in own land after the establishment of Israel in 1948. Is this passivity' These apologists for the hawkish right-wing are masters of distorting perspectives. For them, the second anniversary of 9/11 is of great importance but they do not remember what the Yankees did on the same date 30 years ago in Santiago.
Siddhartha Ghosh Dastidar, Calcutta
Sir — I agree with Swapan Dasgupta that India needs to shun its current passivity and become an active combatant in the war against terror. Terrorists noawadays have access to state-of-the-art technology, in addition to biological and chemical weapons. Thus, the concept of global peace has become utopian today. Against this background, India must join hands with Israel and the US to strike new alliances on the basis of shared values and common interests.
Kangayam R. Rangaswamy, Madison, US
Sir — New Delhi’s appeasement of Ariel Sharon during his visit to India came as a rude shock for many Indians (“Terror & truce mix for Sharon”, Sept 10). This new-found fondness for Israel is predicated on a perceived ideological similarity. But Israel has been systematically annihilating Palestinians in a manner reminiscent of Hitler’s “final solution”. The values of pluralism and tolerance are being exchanged for an increasing hawkishness in India. It is a pity that the fractured political opposition in India cannot stop our country from being dragged into a sinister partnership with a warmonger. Any sense of security such a relationship brings can only be a false one.
Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai
Sir — New Delhi’s bonhomie with Ariel Sharon is a disgrace to all Indians. A nation that is the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi was playing host to the leader of a regime that has launched a vicious campaign against the Palestinians, a leader who must be handed over to the International Criminal Court. This symbolizes India’s sellout to the US which, along with Britain and Israel, is bent on overthrowing governments that try to protect their own national interests.
N. Sadanand, New England, US
Sir — The Israeli government recently issued an order seeking to expel Yasser Arafat from the Palestinian territories (“Israel faces global anger over move on Arafat”, Sept 13). Everyone has condemned the move. The US too has turned its back on its ally.
While it is true that India has been waging a lone campaign against the “proxy war” by its neighbour, trying to join forces with a man of such despicable human rights record as Ariel Sharon is not the way to fight terrorism. India commands enough military might to root out militancy in Kashmir. Its experience in Punjab is proof of this. A mix of military might and policies aimed at improving the condition of the people of these states will ensure that the militants lose their support base.
Prashant Bansode, Mumbai
Sir — India has always been considered a leader of the global peace movement. Sadly, time has changed all that as was seen from the Indian government’s warm reception to Ariel Sharon. Evidently, fascism is making its presence felt on the Indian political horizon.
Protima Biswas, Howrah
Sir — While India made noises about its commitment to root out terrorism, it also slipped in a gentle reminder to the visiting Israeli prime minister that this did not mean a dilution in its support for the Palestinian cause. Such double speak will not help the Indian government tackle terrorism. Atal Bihari Vajpayee should remember that Yasser Arafat and the Hamas are major proponents of global terror and that there are valid reasons as to why the world draws parallels between Kashmir and Palestine. India should work closely with the West and Israel to stamp out terrorism.
Kalyan Ghosh, Calcutta
Sir — India’s attempt to form a larger strategic alliance with like-minded countries like Israel must have rubbed the various terror networks the wrong way. The grenade attack by militants on a Border Security Force bunker in Srinagar and the confiscation of explosives in the encounter with Nissar, the suspected mastermind of the recent blasts in Mumbai, betray the nervousness of these terror outfits over such an alliance. The militants are bent on jeopardizing the prospects of an anti-terror axis between India, Israel and the US. But India needs to rise up to this challenge and ensure that the threat is crushed with the cooperation of all the countries who are fighting the menace of global terror.
Shweta Gupta, Jalpaiguri
Sir — For the film industry, the Dada Saheb Phalke Award is as prestigious as the Bharat Ratna. Ever since the award was instituted over three decades ago, it is presented along with the national awards. But the jury for deciding the national awards does not name the Phalke awardee. That job is entrusted to former Phalke awardees. The problem with this is that most of the award winners are dead. Also, of the 33 award winners, 23 are from Mumbai. There are only 6 awardees from the South. While the Mumbai film industry produces around 150 films annually, the four regions of the South produce nearly 400. The South has the lion’s share of national award winners but the Phalke award invariably goes to Mumbai. This imbalance causes injustice to many giants of the film industry in the South. Incidentally, we must also get over the obsession with actors and actresses as there are many other professions in the film industry which are equally, if not more, important.
M. Bhaktavatsala, Bangalore