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Return of the Native

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By K.N. Pandita

On 25 April 2008, Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh opened the engineering marvel of a cantilever bridge over the furious Chenab at Akhnoor. It connects Jammu with sensitive Rajouri and Poonch regions. From strategic and commercial point of view this is a landmark achievement.

The opening ceremony of the bridge will be remembered in history of the state and the nation for yet another landmark achievement. It is prime minister’s bold and open statement of his government’s decisive policy of rehabilitating more than fifty thousand internally displaced Kashmiri Hindu families back in the valley.

For the first time ever since militancy erupted in the valley in 1990, forcing the minority and the nationalists to leave their home and hearth, the Prime Minister of India has announced a comprehensive package for their return and rehabilitation. It has set at rest all ambiguities and speculations, fears and apprehensions, hopes and frustration that bedeviled the victims for two decades in the past.

Cynics may label PM’s announcement as election stunt. Let us not forget that the statement has come from the Prime Minister of India made in a huge public rally and conspicuously carried by international media in headlines.

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Letter to the Editor

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ToI – Kashmir Politics

By K.N. Pandita, New Delhi

Sir,

Balraj Puri’s ‘The Kashmir question’ (ToI  April 18) needs a second look.  Musharraf’s defeat at the polls was a foregone conclusion not only with the Kashmiris but also with all Pak watchers anywhere in the world.  Sharp reaction of Kashmir mainstream leadership, separatists and militant leaders to Zardari’s ‘cold store’ statement should open the eyes of New Delhi to harsh realities of ground situation in Kashmir. The new government in Islamabad has its eye sharply focused on country’s foreign policy of which Kashmir is the core element.  Pugwash, funded by Farooq Kathwari, the American business tycoon of Kashmiri origin, is carrying forward the agenda of Kathwari Plan – a rehash of Owen Dixon Plan -. Kashmir separatists did not participate in its March meet in Pakistan because Kathwari Plan ignores the fundamental objective of the militant organizations of a united original Islamic State of Jammu and Kashmir. The Deoband ulema issued anti-terrorism edict not to please India (in Kashmir) or the US but just because terrorists had come to the brink of annihilating the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Mind you the edict was against terrorism and not against dictatorship and autocracy, which are actually responsible for the destruction of Pakistan. Terrorist threat has not subsided; the Baluch issue is alive and so is the Paktun issue.

Sonia Gandhi visits Jagti

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By K.N. Pandita

This week, Sonia Gandhi paid a flying visit to Jammu. It was essentially a precursor to election campaign in the State. She addressed a women’s gathering in the Parade Ground and categorically told her audience to vote Congress to power. Democracy is a fantastic political arrangement and even those who work in an arbitrary and rather dictatorial manner, feel the necessity to go to the electorate as a process of reaching the seat of power.

She chose or was advised to make not more than 15 minutes long symbolic visit to Jagti. The chief of the party that rules over a human mass of a thousand million souls, or one fifth of the world’s population, had one full day to loiter around Tulip Garden of Srinagar but not anything more than 15 minutes to visit the 20-year old languishing lot of thousands of internally displaced people in Jammu. Why this visit to a dismal and dark habitat whose inmates are non-existent in terms of vote bank politics? Did anybody ask that question?

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