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July 27, 1999
Let us not forget history
Where are those million vituperative voices now? Where is that cacophony now which last year lampooned and lambasted Bal Thackeray for opposing the Pakistani cricket tour of India? After Kargil, all the simpletons like those who hailed the standing ovation given to Wasim Akram's team as it took its victory lap around the Chidambaram Stadium are now suffering the silence of the lambs. Kargil has added proof to recorded history that sporting contests between nations does not automatically lead to peace between them.
Indeed, the Kargil catastrophe has helped to turn the full circle in the matter of sports and politics. Two of our most outstanding cricketers ever -- Kapil Dev and Sachin Tendulkar-- have asked for the cessation of all our cricket against Pakistan till the "war-like" situation in Kargil is over. Presumably, everything would be hunky dory once we have reoccupied the LOC positions earlier raped by Pakistan. How naive that belief is!
How on earth can we forget and forgive that rape, which, by latest count, has cost us 410, lives and more than 600 wounded, many crippled for life? How can we forget that Pakistan's similar ravage of the Kashmir valley in 1947 took the life of over a thousand of our fighting force? How can we forgive the fact that the 1965 aggression by the same rapist cost us 3,264 men? How can we forget that Pakistan's adventurism of 1971 killed 3,843 of our soldiers, including 195 officers? And we can never forget or forgive the following damage caused by ISI sponsored terrorism:
With the above statistical record of Pakistan in India, should we just resume cricket with it after the Kargil crisis has blown over? See, by the way, how the highly politicised Pakistan Cricket Board and politician Imran Khan are already needling us into playing with their cricketers once again.
Often in the past -- and even now -- there have existed the noble Indian souls who advocate people-to-people contact with Pakistan in order to promote peace that will result in our two countries living happily ever after. Such naive citizens of ours overlook the anti-Indian perfidy, treachery and perverse psyche of those who created Pakistan in 1947 and have ruled over it ever since, simply trampling over those few who think differently. Such has been the power of those in power in Pakistan that there must now be too few of those who think differently.
Let them all stew in their own jaundiced juice. But let us Indians not forget history. Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, had engaged in conspiracy from day one of his new nation's birth. Under his diktat, tribesmen from the Pak side invaded independent Kashmir in an effort to annex it from the ruling Maharaja. When the Maharaja chose to accede to India on October 26, 1947, Jinnah claimed that India had attained Kashmir's accession through violence!
Jinnah's successors have proved no different. In 1965 and then in 1971 came more unprovoked wars with India. The objective: grab Kashmir from us, dismember us. On both those occasions, we settled for peace and yielded the territory our men had died for. We played out our magnanimity, hoping that remorse and wisdom will seize the unthinking and the uncouth. That never happened. From 1989 began unprecedented cross-border terrorism and then came Kargil.
The former president of Pakistan, Ghulam Ishaq Khan, had said, 'The agenda of Partition of India is still incomplete…' and the Pakistan national assembly lustily cheered him for that remark Earlier in March this year, General Parvez Musharraf, Pakistan's army chief, told his officers in an address that even if the Kashmir issue were solved to Pakistan's satisfaction, the low intensity conflict with India would continue. As an Indian journalist had put it, the Pakistanis would, after Kashmir, always invent some new cause to fight with India.
Till now, the issue continues to be Kashmir. The Pakistan leaders and successive governments have allowed the Kashmir issue to play such an important part in their domestic and international politics that no government can soft peddle it. Almost 800 years ago, the Muslim invaders who began destroying our political and religious landmarks had sown the seeds. That bitterness and hatred towards Hindus and India has been, over the years, passed from one generation to another. Their own leaders and their own agencies have woven that barbaric animosity around the Pakistani people.
This weft and warp of bitterness has become so strong now that all our people-to-people contacts will not tear it. Disfiguring India forever will alone cleanse the heart of the common Pakistani; therein lies his only salvation. Comments after Kargil by Pakistan journalists barely conceal this mission statement which thinks nothing of torturing and mutilating the bodies of six captured Indian soldiers in the latest conflict.
It behoves us a nation, therefore, to transform ourselves from a "soft" state into a "hard" one as far as Pakistan is concerned. Let us play Pakistan at cricket or at any other sport only when international rules make it mandatory; let us forget the myth of goodwill tours of all kinds, cricketing or cultural. And when our sportsmen do have to play the Pakis, let there be no pleasantries of any kind, no "sporting spirit".
There's no need to develop commerce and trade with Pakistan; we are doing fine with the rest of the world and, besides, what is the guarantee that ISI will not blend poison with the sugar we might import from it? Let travel visas be granted only to proven relatives across the two nations. Let us give up the belief, once and for all, that Pakistan's peace and prosperity is good for us; our good lies only in its obliteration from the world map.
While eternal vigilance will necessarily have to be the golden rule henceforth for our national security against future Pakistan designs, a strong and ceaseless diplomatic effort must urgently be put in place to keep the world, especially, the USA, informed of how Pakistan is not only a rogue state but also becoming a failed state, harboring contempt for democratic principles, human rights, national sovereignty and international peace.
Towards this end, but limited to the Kashmir issue, time is ripe now for starting a grand Kashmir Museum in New Delhi. This museum -- to be a truly modern one with taped audio guides, son et lumiere shows etc -- should display all the historical documents of India's strong legal, moral and factual case on Kashmir, starting from authentic copies of its Maharaja's accession to India letter dated October 26, 1947 and the Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir, 1957, which recorded that, having being given the right of self-determination, the duly-elected Jammu & Kashmir Assembly unanimously approved the non-amendable Section 3 which states that "the state of Jammu and Kashmir is and shall be an integral part of the Union of India."
While one section in this Kashmir Museum could be devoted entirely to the evidential exhibits of Pak's cross-border terrorism, another could be devoted to the accounts of India's four wars till now over the Kashmir issue. The utter farce of the United Nations Security Council's meddling in the matter would also be an eye-opener to the visitor.
One highly attractive portion of the proposed museum ought to be a mini lake sailed by a couple of Kashmir's famous little houseboats against the backdrop of snow-capped hills. An exclusive hall selling Kashmir's exotic carpets, shawls and handicrafts at a discount would help to garnish the historic-cum-artistic museum. A permanently lit magnificent memorial to all those Indians who died for the Kashmir cause could be the finishing touch to remind us for all times to come that trusting others is not always a virtue in guarding national interest.
Does the basic idea seem far-fetched? Not really when it is considered that even the educated in Mumbai does not quite feel emotionally attached or even knowledgeable about our paradise valley.
And, moreover, if London can sport a nostalgic museum at 221 Baker Street in memory of the fictitious Sherlock Holmes, why shouldn't India have a historic and spellbinding one on Kashmir?
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