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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Times Of India

17 February 2010

The peace makers

Tarun Vijay

I wish I could have the interview of a soldier's mother published in a major newspaper. Who would offer the space in times like these when the bleeding Pune and Jharkhand get no more a space than a movie made for profits and entertainment?

Soldier's mother, because her son fights for us, for India. By any standards, by the example of any country in the world known for civility and great traditions of democracy, a soldier must get precedence over entertainers whose life remains enveloped in glamour, sex and riches.

Hence, when the talks with Pakistan are scheduled for February 25, under the shadow of mocking comments, quite demeaning for those who have a spine, by the foreign minister of the invited country -- "ghutne tek kar hamein baat karne bulaya", or "bending on their knees, they invited us for talks" -- we must ask a question, who are those who invited Pune blasters for dinner and who are those who are asked to defend the country at the cost of their lives?

Here are some gems of brave words uttered by those who are now setting the dialogue table, even after having made to eat humble pie by the country which they very recently called "sponsor of all terror".

A news agency reported this from Sharm-el-Sheikh (Egypt) on July 16, 2009. '"We were quite clear that if acts of terrorism continue to be perpetrated, there is no question of any dialogue, let alone composite dialogue," Manmohan Singh told reporters here after three hours of talks with Gilani on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit.'The darling of all tweeters, minister of state for external affairs Shashi Tharoor said on December 22, 2009: "No talks till Pak acts against 26/11 attackers."

"Our position has been very clear and consistent. We have asked Pakistan to take two steps. One, to bring the perpetrators of Mumbai attacks to justice and two, to ensure that terror structures in Pakistan used against our country should be dismantled," Tharoor told reporters. "But we have not seen progress in either of these two steps. We would like them to take steps on these two fronts."

Another news agency reported on June 6, 2009, India's position thus: "No move for early talks resumption: India." It said home minister P Chidambaram linked an arrested terror suspect to Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed and foreign minister S M Krishna drowned hopes of an early resumption of talks with Pakistan, saying Islamabad must first show tangible measures to stop attacks from its soil on Indian targets.

Chidambaram was earlier quoted by agencies (Feb 23, 2009): "Pakistan is the epicentre of terrorism. Our policy has forced Pakistan to admit that its soil is being used for terrorist attacks on India. They have taken some action. They have promised to take more action. We will watch and see if they take more action to take this case to its logical conclusion." The minister was in Jalandhar to lay the foundation stone of a memorial for the martyr Bhagat Singh.

Krishna was more forthcoming. He told a TV channel on August 24, 2009: "Meaningful dialogue with Pakistan is impossible unless Pakistan stops the cross-border terrorism. All the sources of terrorism, radicalism and nuclear proliferation lead only to Pakistan and it is not even prosecuting terrorists against whom all the evidence has been given."

What has changed now that we are inviting the Pakistanis, for dialogue, dinners and evenings of ghazals capped with prime-time TV interviews?

Have they prosecuted the perpetrators of 26/11? Have they sincerely begun operations against the jihadis targeting Indians? Have they stopped allowing their soil to be used by the jihadis against India? Have they stopped supporting cross-border terrorism and radicalism?

Even Gandhi had said: "I believe that where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence." (Gray and Parekh, p.109)

What has happened since the brave words were uttered by the rulers of this country that has made them invite perpetrators of all criminal-war-like actions against us? Against our citizens? Against our soldiers? Why are we so contemptuous of our soldiers?

Soldiers are not actors. Hence, an entire state government machinery can be put on guard to protect a commercial venture of an individual. At no cost to him. But soldiers must not get prime-time interviews, neither any films be made on how they defend the country amid a hostile environment, or feel ashamed when those who attack them and murder their brothers in arms are invited to dinner by the rulers who are otherwise supposed to safeguard the honour and lives of men in olive green.

Who are the soldiers and who are the filmmakers and actors? The actors are peace-loving people from Mars and the soldiers are mercenaries from Bharat? The actors love social harmony, and the soldiers are hard-boiled violent hate group who hail from Dehradun and Aizawl?

So, even if a graduate from the Indian Military Academy is killed by the neighbour, the cricket and dialogue and movie making with the neighbour must just go on in the name of a third-party God of the seculars? We love peace, at any cost, even if our fellow citizens are maimed and killed?

The soldiers join the forces for the sake of money. The perks and perhaps "izzat" too. We join Bollywood and cricket for the sake of world peace, and no commercial interests. Hence, soldiers must be off-listed and we be decorated with medals.

The one who may ask why no Bharat Ratna has been ever given to a soldier and even an entertainer with suspicious stories and a faith convertor were declared gems of the nation, must be declared a communal, a frustrated soul and a warmonger. Soldiers live and die for money. Politicians live and die for the welfare of the people. Hence, Bharat Ratna must always go to the politician.

Look at Pune and see the coverage 20 policemen killed by Naxalites in Jharkhand got. Foreigners still get more focus and sympathy than Indians.

Nobody likes a war, least of those who dare to send their children to the forces. (Please send me a list of those politicians whose children are serving in the forces). To die unsung? See these lines of a report: "Two foreigners - an Italian woman and an Iranian man - were among the nine people killed. Twelve of the 57 people injured were foreign nationals." Where is the Indian in it? Just waste?

The salt in the eyes of the mothers of Indian or Pakistani soldiers tastes the same. Yet, the armed forces have been a necessity to defend the peace and honour and the lives of the nationals. But at what cost? Give honour and buy peace? A low profile, unmentionable suicide would be better than that.

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