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  Greetings to all our readers and patrons
Stewardship and Trusteesh
  By A.J. Philip  
  I ACCOMPANIED Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on his visit to South Africa on the occasi  
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Letter to Metropolitan
  By Rev A.P. Jacob and five other priests  
  Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan Most Rev. Dr. Philipose Mar Chrysostom Mar  
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Back to infancy -- they n
  By Shaheen Chander  
  ENJOYING a relaxed weekend, I was checking updates on the Facebook page. I came across a b  
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100 years of Mother's love
  By Dominic Emmanuel  
  BLESSED MOTHER TERESA had become a legend in her own lifetime. And today, on her birth centenary, as the world remembers her fondly and the poorest of the poor of the "City of Joy" worship her as their Devi, the Catholic Church is preparing to officially pronounce her a saint.

In 2002, the English weekly magazine "Outlook" conducted a survey among its readers to find out who, according to them, was the best Indian. The list included great Indian luminaries like Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, but the readers ticked Mother Teresa as the "best Indian".

Of course, no one really needed a survey to verify the affection Mother Teresa commanded -- not just in India, but the entire world. The then Government of India had, in fact, already bestowed upon her one of the highest honours by according her a state funeral as Mother left for heaven -- her eternal home -- on September 5, 1997.

What made Mother Teresa renounce the convent and embrace the abandoned sprang out of her long "Holy Hours" spent in intense prayer. "Holiness", she used to say, "does not consist in doing extraordinary things. It consists in accepting, with a smile, what Jesus sends us..." That is why once when someone asked her about the success of her work, she promptly answered, "We do not count how successful we are but how faithful we are in serving the Lord". For Mother, prayer was never divorced from her work. Nor could her hectic activity ever deprive her of the precious moments shared with Lord Jesus, her Master. Prayer and work always went hand in hand for Mother. She would often tell those training to join Missionaries of Charity, "The fruit of silence is prayer; the fruit of prayer is faith; the fruit of faith is love; the fruit of love is service and our service is for the poorest of the poor."

In the world of mass media, where our attention is often distracted by television and glossy magazines for entertainment, sports, fashion and consumer goods, it is difficult to appreciate what led Mother Teresa to turn away from her convent life and plunge into the world of those totally rejected by society and often by their own families.

For Mother, however, it was clear that she chose to toil for the poorest of the poor because of her love for Jesus whom she witnessed in every "materially and spiritually poor person". What caught her imagination and stirred her heart were the words of Jesus, "Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers (sisters), you do it to me. For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me" (Matthew 25: 35-36).

She was obsessed with the person of Jesus. Through the hungry she fed Jesus; through the leprosy patients she dressed Jesus' wounds; she sheltered him when she gave shelter to destitutes and prostitutes; she consoled him in AIDS victims.

Through her relationship with Jesus she learnt how he interacted with people of all classes and ethnic origins. He embraced everyone in need of love and compassion, and this was a cue for Mother. And so, every human being, regardless of caste, creed or colour, was welcomed in her Homes and continues to be received into the temples of the Missionaries of Charity. Hence she could confidently claim, "We have absolutely no difficulty having to work with many faiths. We treat all people as children of God. They are our brothers and sisters."

Her unflinching faith in the providence of God was astonishing and for ordinary folks like us, impossible even to consider. She believed that she was doing "God's work and He would provide for our needs". That principle guides the work of Missionaries of Charity even today. Most of their centers don't even have a budget. Their trust that God will provide them through some generous soul has never ever been betrayed. Hundreds of people of good will, belonging to different faiths, vie to get their names registered to provide the next meal at their centers.

Through her work, Mother opened the eyes of the rich and the powerful towards the needs of the poor. It is wonderful to see how they rally round the nuns to continue her mission. Observing the conditions of the poor in our country no one can deny that there is ample scope for lots of people to join in sharing God's love and generosity with them, those who are less fortunate, and those whom Mother gave dignity and loving care, most often, in their dying moments.
Weekend madness
  By Raja Jaikrishan  
  IN the Kashmir Valley weekend begins on Friday. State government employees rarely return to work after the afternoon prayer. Now that hartals and demonstrations have become the order of the day the remaining weekend is spent visiting hospitals to see those who got injured in police firing or joining the funeral processions of the martyrs of Azadi.

The next week begins with another cycle of demonstrations and deaths. This has been on since June. The month of Ramzan usually broke the din of sloganeering and gore of bloodshed. But this summer the protests and deaths are shadowing fasts and prayers.

The employees consider salary as no better than a dole. There is premium on staying away from work without fear of action. Partaking in pro-Azadi activities has become both work and worship. They also agitate for building mosques in places of work -- be it the secretariat or educational institutions or the much-needed hike in salary or allowances.

This work ethics is way off from that of Sufi Islam. Though the century-old reform movement of the Ahl-i-Hadith, run by the Jamaat-i-Islamia, sought to undermine people's faith in the powers of the Sufis or the custodians of their shrines, people clung to Sufi Islam.

The rise of right-wing politics at the national level impacted these movement and its emirs (leaders) went for political change by asserting the Quran and the Prophetic Sunnat.
The agitators took to the streets in the nineties with the slogan for establishing Nizam-e-Mustafa.

The anti-vice vigilante groups went around the Valley enforcing a ban on performing arts, cinema, music and dance. Those who violated the ban were treated with acid bombs.

The 9/11 sprouted jihad outfits in line with global jihad. Besides the already active Dukhtarani Millat, Kashmir Front and Islamic Students League spearheaded the campaign against migrant workers, prostitution, sexual freedom and alcohol. This campaign against vice resulted in public punishments of offenders under the Islamist code. The moral police targeted the Sufi dargahs and their practices.

The puritanical steps turned virulent. Through its network of schools the Jamaat went in for a 'silent revolution'. These schools became centres of preaching communal hatred and were closed in 1990. After the teachers did their bit for the 'silent revolution', the Omar Abdullah government reinstated 440 of them last year.

The armed wings of this movement went about killing, kidnapping and hijacking. This led to the exodus of Pandits, but increased the Army action in the Valley. The terror put the people under siege and subjected them to searches and identification parades.

Two decades after terror strikes ceased to make headlines, the movement commanders felt the need for change in tactics.

Taking a cue from the 2008 Amarnath land row the local leaders of the global jihad decided that Quit Jammu and Kashmir Campaign be launched in the Valley to coincide with the visits of foreign secretary and foreign minister to Pakistan to discuss confidence building measures.

Despite lengthening the martyrs' graveyards, more are willing to die for the cause. On the face of it, these teenagers appear to be expending their energy in the pastime-starved Valley.

Studies have found that exposure to excessive violence can cause what is called the attention-deficit syndrome. It must be difficult for this traumatized generation to concentrate in the classrooms.

Caught in Islamist ethos at home and the secular education in schools, most them live in the present, where taking bullets for stones is a sure way to four minutes of fame.

The protests during the Prime Minister's visit to Srinagar didn't alert the state government to impending protests. When the security forces fired at the restive crowd, leaders like Sayed Ali Shah Geelani got the plot: To egg the youth to pelt stones at security forces. The reprisal that followed has put the Valley on the boil. Insurgents released from prisons, school dropouts and daily wage laborers got bullets for hurling stones.

Geelani after release from prison counseled peaceful protests, the street clashes escalated. He has been shouted down and branded as an opportunist.

Dukhtarani Millat leader Asiya Andrabi dismissed his plea as out of sync with the spirit of Generation Next. This is not the first time that Geelani has had to eat his words. At the height of the identical 2008 agitation, he had to apologise for calling himself as the movement's only leader.

The leaders of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat ,Dukhtarani Millat, Kashmir Front and Islamic Students League after engineering the protests find it hard to put the genie of under-19 youth back in bottle.

The government actions have fallen short on human rights, but have succeeded in creating space for global jihadis and anti–vice campaigners. The movement for Azadi has reached a stage where no one is listening.
The writer is a Noida-based senior journalist
Candid Cameron
  By Sarvjeet Singh  
  BRITISH Prime Minister David Cameron has truly displayed rare candour and courage in highlighting the grave danger posed by terror outfits based in Pakistan.

An outcry, expectedly, followed in Pakistan but Cameron, demonstrating exemplary commitment to conviction, refused to back down.

Surprisingly, even the British media seemed to suggest that, perhaps, the Prime Minister had unnecessarily stepped on the toes of a long-standing ally whose cooperation was crucial in Afghanistan.

The events unfolding subsequently fly in the face of this argument. It is now quite apparent that Pakistan's role in Afghanistan, especially its continued dalliance with radical forces fighting allied troops, casts a destabilising shadow on the country.

In fact, the White House in a statement said that Pakistan should not expect any "blank cheques" from the US regarding its activities and that the US was well aware that Pakistan was supporting the Taliban and helping to kill US troops.

Pakistani army chief General Parvez Ashfaq Kayani and former Pakistani ruler Gen Musharraf have both described the Haqiqi faction of the Taliban as strategic assets.

When Gen Kayani talks about the need for "strategic depth" in Afghanistan, one can easily understand what he actually has in mind. Former Canadian High Commissioner to Afghanistan Chris Alexander has revealed that General Kayani had even offered to broker peace between the Afghanistan government and the Taliban on the condition of Afghanistan closing the Indian consulates.

Another terror group nurtured in the fertile Pakistani soil is LeT which, according to NATO, was responsible for a string of attacks in eastern Afghanistan. Richard Holbrooke, the US Special Secretary for Afghanistan, has described the group as "terribly dangerous and a co-equal threat as the Taliban and the Al-Qaida".

The Quadrennial Defence Review (QDR) panel in its report to the US Congress expressed concern at the support being extended to Islamic fundamentalism by the Pakistani army and the intelligence establishment.

The recent report that Pakistan is using only 15 per cent of the funds received to fight against terror while the rest is being deployed to bolster its military might which continues to be India-specific. If seen together with the QDR observations, what is available is a grim picture.

This grim picture finds a reflection in the reports of home terror being recognised as the biggest threat to Pakistan by the ISI, relegating India to the second spot.

In the light of such credible evidence of Pakistani establishment's dangerous flirtations with forces inimical to free world and all it represents, the British Premier's candour and straightforwardness need to be lauded for they serve to highlight the issues at hand.

Prime Minister Cameron further said that he regarded Pakistan as a "friend" and would like to talk frankly about issues that pose a threat to the world and to Pakistan itself.

Pakistan at this stage needs more such friends who first of all possess an understanding of what is going wrong there and then have the courage to say it. Pakistan also needs friends who would help it deal with the ravaging floods so that radical elements do not take advantage and use it for garnering goodwill as they did with the earthquake in 2009. That would signal a defeat for the free world.

The devastating floods in Pakistan and the consequential human misery in Pakistan should galvanise all forces representing the free world into decisive and substantial support for Pakistan. The radical elements should not be allowed to hold sway over relief and connect with the people at this hour of distress only to use them ruthlessly in the Jihad factories later.

If such forces succeed in turning the humanitarian effort into preparation for inhuman actions for future, it will surely signal defeat for the free world.
The writer is with New Delhi YMCA and is a student of foreign policy
Invasion of privacy
  By Meetu Tewari  
  MOBILE phones seem to offer us a sense of security and we feel safe and secure using them. In most cases and in most countries, this would be the case. But during the past one year I have come across some alarming instances of blatant ignoring of privacy.

Last year I began receiving calls from an unknown number which I deliberately chose not to answer. Once as I sat next to a friend, she happened to see the incoming call from the unknown number and immediately exclaimed it was her fiancé.

As it turned out, he had some contacts in the telecom firm of which my friend had a SIM card. He used his contacts there to get details of every SMS she sent and to which number. He had begun calling those numbers to find out if any number belonged to any male friends she may be in touch with. And also to find out where she may be at any time during the day.

Similarly, a few months ago, I was with my cousin who smilingly told me about her special someone. He too had contacts in the telecom firm of which she had a SIM. And he also made it a point to see who all she would SMS and would then question her about each number he did not recognize.

When it is so simple for normal people to get access to confidential usage data of customers, it makes one wonder just how much privacy a mobile phone offers. How is it that when telecom firms promise security, their data is leaked by their own employees to oblige their friends? Who will be finally held accountable for such a breach? What measures does such a firm take to ensure it meets its own standards?

These are important questions and telecom firms need to maintain stricter access to such data and keep a check on their employees. Such occurrences not only cause embarrassment to the victim but causes discomfort to innocent acquaintances who might suddenly start receiving calls from jealous and suspicious boy-friends, husbands or even girl-friends!

It was suddenly not a pleasant experience for me to start receiving relentless calls from an unknown number, even at odd hours at night and then to discover it was a possessive fiancé trying to ascertain my gender!

Call data too is readily available. One person I knew was accessing the details of mobile phone usage from Dubai of his girlfriend in India. Not only is such behavior oppressive and borders on lunacy but it violates our rights as customers of these giant firms who seem to be losing control on keeping their data secure.

While you sit typing an SMS or make a call, do you stop to wonder who might have access to your number? Do you stop to think what you consider to be your right to privacy might be getting violated by a jealous suitor of someone? If you don't then you need to stop and wonder because it might just happen, that you, too, start getting calls from unknown numbers.
President's message
  By Pratibha Patil  
  My Fellow Citizens,

On the eve of our 64th Independence Day, I extend my warmest greetings to all of you from all walks of life, living in India and overseas. I convey special greetings to the brave personnel of our Armed Forces and the Para-military forces who guard our frontiers and to our Central and State police, as well as our internal security forces. I also compliment every citizen of this country whose hard work, productive prowess and enterprising zeal have put India among the front ranks of the nations of the world. I convey my heartfelt condolences to all those who have lost their loved ones, suffered injuries and whose properties have been destroyed in the recent cloud burst in Leh.

Dear Citizens,

Every year, we celebrate our Independence Day with great fervor as well as joy and justifiably so, as it commemorates that day, when after many years of subjugation, our country gained its freedom. Indeed, in the annals of history, 15th of August 1947 will always be remembered as a day of an extraordinary accomplishment, of when India won its freedom with unparalleled fortitude and unique means. Under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, our movement for attaining freedom through Ahimsa and Satyagraha spread throughout the country, inspiring people in a manner rarely seen. Millions and millions of our men and women, willingly and enthusiastically responded to his call. They united to become an immense force that defeated the mightiest colonial power. Free India, was thus born.

As citizens of free India, we must reflect on the values and principles which were in the minds and hearts of those who fought and sacrificed for our freedom. They drew inspiration from the values nurtured in the country through millennia. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru once described Gandhiji as, "embodying the old spirit of India, who held aloft the torch of freedom". Gandhiji's thoughts and his life were truly an expression of the philosophy of our ancient civilization in which peace and harmony, non-violence and truth, human dignity and compassion were given great prominence. Are we now forgetting these principles? Are we overlooking them? No, we should not. These are eternal values, which have sustained our nation, our society and also each one of us as individuals. Gandhiji's thinking continues to have deep influence and is of increasing relevance in the world, with 2nd October, his birthday, being observed every year as the International Day of Non-Violence.

Dear Citizens,

We are at a historic phase when the world is shifting course. It is impacting our economy, polity, trade, commerce, education and pace of life. In this era of transformation, India definitely cannot lag behind. Our entire effort must be to ensure that there is overall development in which all people prosper. However, can our political approaches, economic progress and scientific advances be combined with values of human welfare, tolerance, mutual respect and selflessness propounded by learned men, leaders, philosophers and thinkers of our country? Our past and our future are linked. The future beckons us and the past guides us.

What has been our past? India, a mature and a harmonious society, had a rich tradition of learning and a philosophy based on experiences and knowledge of thousands of years. Swami Vivekananda spoke of India as, "the ancient land, where wisdom made its home before it went into any other country". Ours is a land where religions have taken birth and all religions of the world have found a place. Ours is a land where different languages, cultures and customs flourished. So well known was India for its piety, scholarship and centres of study, that it attracted travellers from across the world. From early times, India always looked at progress and moral growth as mutually inclusive rather than mutually exclusive concepts. India’s depth of thought was matched by its material prosperity. Its fine goods, its spices, its silk, its cotton, were much sought after. India's traders went to distant lands both to the East and the West, carrying with them not only goods from India, but also its reputation as a land of great culture and wealth.

We are the inheritors of this great civilization whose legacy has been passed on from generation to generation. We can be worthy heirs if we follow, in the true sense, the ideals of political, social and economic justice. Lip service will not do. We have to be ardent adherents. We are also duty-bound to pass on this rich inheritance to our younger generation - the 540 million youth. We place great hope on them and rightly so. They have been demonstrating their capabilities and strengths in various fields of human activity in India and abroad. Whether in multi-national business enterprises or the IT industry or financial organizations or global scientific bodies, young Indians are joining their ranks and making their mark. In sports, they have been bringing laurels to the country. Our youth are the architects of the nation's future. We must educate them and inculcate in them a spirit of sacrifice, dedication, patriotism and service to the nation. This way, they would be ready to face the future with confidence and build on the achievements made so far.

Dear Citizens,

Where does our country stand today? Our credentials as the world's largest democracy have been further reinforced with the deepening of democracy at all levels. We have elected bodies existing from the national to the grassroot level. Democracy has given citizens the right to participate in the affairs of the nation. It has become a way of life in India. On the economic front, we are ranked as the world's fourth largest economy based on purchasing power parity and one of the fastest growing. The resilience of our economy was evident during the global financial crisis which we weathered, better than many other countries. The future holds great potential and promise. However, many issues demand attention and the way we address them is important.

Foremost, among our tasks is to ensure the welfare of all. It is for this reason that India has adopted inclusive growth as a pillar of its economic edifice and is pro-actively pursuing it. Our task will be complete only when no one sleeps on a hungry stomach, when no one sleeps on the footpath and when every child is in school. Therefore, fittingly, education, capacity building, housing, healthcare and nutrition are a priority on the agenda of the Government. All of us should also pause to think how as responsible citizens, each one of us can contribute to Government efforts in these areas. It is a huge task to be achieved for a billion plus population, but we should not be overwhelmed. In every village and in every colony of every town, city or metropolis, people can come forward to form groups to work for the disadvantaged. Some amongst us may ask, what difference can these small efforts make? For them, I recall a story of a man walking down a beach, moments after a storm. He noticed a person ahead of him picking up starfish washed ashore and throwing them back into the sea. He asked the person how his efforts could make any difference, as the beach was long and there were lakhs of starfish washed ashore who would die. The person looked at the starfish in his hand and threw it into the water saying, "it makes a difference to this one". The message is clear -- every effort, big or small, does make a difference.

Dear Citizens,

I believe that empowerment through education is important as it opens many doors of opportunity. The Right to Education Act has made free and compulsory primary education for children a fundamental right. It is important that secondary education is also universalized, as we seek to increase enrollment levels in higher education. This will provide the "brain power" for the nation. We are living in an age where innovation is shaping many areas of human activity. New technologies can enhance our agriculture and industrial productivity. Efficient technologies can facilitate the optimum utilization of capital, labour and resources. We have seen the impact of mobile telephone connectivity even in our villages. Innovation and invention were always given weightage as agents of change but perhaps never as high as now. The categorization of nations as rich and poor, developed and developing may well be overtaken by a new definition of those nations that innovate rapidly, as opposed to those which do so on a lower scale. To be in the forefront of cutting edge technologies, research and development in all fields must be encouraged and pursued in the country.

We must also speed up the construction of physical infrastructure. We need new roads, ports, airports, power projects as well as reinforcement of existing facilities. The augmentation will fill the infrastructural deficit that impedes overall economic growth and is, in many ways, out of sync with our image of an emerging global player.

Our industries must continue to grow. Indian companies should persist with efforts to be efficient and globally competitive. Some are already making their presence felt overseas. Our agriculture requires a fresh perspective, with new and radical ideas to steer it towards a second Green Revolution, so that agriculture production, productivity and profitability are increased. This is essential for our food security as well as price stabilization. At the same time, agriculture cannot be looked at in isolation. It needs to be connected with other sectors of the economy. Linking industry with agriculture would provide a basis for growth of industry in the rural areas and also promote agriculture business. Models of farming which give economies of scale, while protecting the interests of the farmer must be explored. Efficient distribution networks that link farmers with the consumers should be encouraged, so as to bring greater remuneration to farmers for their produce, while giving a price advantage to the consumer. Value addition on-site will generate employment and income opportunities for the local population. Support to the rural poor and farm labour through skill development, vocational training and social welfare programmes, must be a priority. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act is an important mechanism for providing livelihood. If specific local conditions are taken into account in its implementation and innovative approaches for convergence of various Government schemes encouraged, rural growth will be greatly enhanced. For example, agricultural productivity in rain fed areas can be increased with improved farm practices as well as conservation of soil and water, with the construction of farm ponds and village tanks and their proper upkeep and de-silting. Undertaking such activities in a coordinated manner can make a meaningful difference.

However, achievement of goals and targets is dependent on an effective governance structure. Powers have been given to those in Government for formulating policies and for implementation on the field. It should always be remembered that this power must be used in a responsible manner. Zero tolerance towards corruption and working with the highest standards of public service will definitely result in efficient governance systems and will have a multiplier effect on development and growth.

Dear Citizens,

We must be law abiding and also work for moral upliftment. I mention this because with an increasing emphasis on materialism, there is growing insensitivity towards each other. Strong family bonds are weakening. Social consciousness is on the decline. Some social evils persist. This must change. Today is the best opportunity when ground-breaking achievements alongwith a moral and ethical renaissance can take place. In this way, progress would be anchored in values of compassion, tolerance and selfless service, which are important for making human life meaningful and purposeful. These values will make our multi-cultural, multi-religious, multi-lingual society more robust. They will also give us a strong base on which a stable structure of prosperity and progress can be raised. For example, as a kite surges high into the sky, it is affected by the breeze and the clouds. If the string is firm and skillfully handled, the kite will stay afloat, otherwise it can go adrift, be cut off, fall and be destroyed. The kite is much like our growth voyage with the string and the firmness with which it is handled, representing the ethical base. India is the abode of infinite values – let us strive to restore these as we go along the path of progress.

Tomorrow's India will be constructed by the hard work of today. I call on all citizens to contribute to making the future of the nation, stronger and brighter. Let everyone understand their role and responsibility to achieve this. As I said earlier, every effort counts. Nation building demands the ability to work diligently and patiently, where the reward is the growth of the nation rather than personal promotion. It requires unity of purpose and the ability to focus on issues which unite. It requires a spirit of conciliation. This is possible when dialogue is chosen as the channel for communication. By listening to each other, respecting each other's viewpoint and understanding one another, we can address issues before us. The proponents of extreme ideologies and the followers of Left Wing Extremism must abandon their path of violence. I call on them to join national efforts for growth and development. I hope that everybody, including the civil society will come forward and move them in this direction. Protracted development efforts will be needed in these areas.

Dear Citizens,

India's growth and progress will take place in an environment that is also influenced by global events. We believe that peace is essential, if prosperity is to be achieved. Terrorism poses the biggest threat to global peace, stability and security. To defeat it, all nations of the world must work collectively, so that terrorists have no sanctuaries, no training grounds, no access to financial resources, no infrastructural support, and no defenders of their ideology. Violence and hatred can have no place in the world. Indeed, the interests that we share as human beings are far more powerful than forces which are divisive. Across the world, the message of peace and not of destruction must
spread, if this Century powered by the most rapid advances in science and technology, is to be the Century of the most spectacular gains made by humankind, accompanied with human values. I am confident that India will contribute substantially to the forward march of the human race.

The human spirit has a tremendous capacity to reach new horizons. With faith in ourselves, faith in our capacity to work together and faith in success, we will continue our journey. We have the talent, to create a great nation; and with our collective will and hard work we will do so. And as we progress and as our flag proudly flutters, like it will tomorrow on Independence Day, we can with pride cite the lines of a well known Indian poet. Translated it means:-

Across the skies your fame has spread,

with every breeze your strength grows.

With these words, I once again wish all Fellow Citizens peace, prosperity and progress on the occasion of Independence Day.

"Jai Hind."
Krishna's folly
  By Sarvjeet Singh  
  FOREIGN Minister SM Krishna's recent Pakistan visit has brought to the surface the long simmering crosscurrents of distrust, one-upmanship and cluelessness that have constantly dogged the relations between the two countries.

To be fair, the clueless element was more pronounced on the Indian side this time and to an extent the Pakistani Foreign Minister is correct in saying so. Take, for example, the Indian Foreign Minister who in the run-up to the talks said that Headley disclosure was going to form the nucleus of the talks, nixing the possibility of either side taking the initiative and exploring zones of possible agreement.

As is known, access to David Coleman Headley was given to India at the personal intervention of US President Barack Obama and this could have been a secret leveraging instrument rather than it being the sole reference point in the tedious negotiations where no simple straightforward solution was in sight.

The media-friendly persona of the Pakistani Foreign Minister and the fact that the talks were being held in Islamabad added in part to the relative success of the Pakistani side in painting India as an intransigent negotiator who was bent upon spiking any progress towards peace in the region under the pretext of 26/11.

When Pakistani Foreign Minister equated Indian Home Secretary's statement about the ISI's involvement in 26/11 with Hafiz Sayeed's hate rantings against India, it was surely incumbent upon the Foreign Minister of India to stand up and assert that the Home Secretary's statement is backed by authentic evidence and as home secretary it is his job to give a correct picture to the nation as it was his job to still try and explore avenues of lasting peace with Pakistan despite such a context.

He would have done well to further distinguish between a documented finding from hate speeches meant to stir up passions among gullible masses who take up arms for Jihad. Having failed to do so, Mr Krishna went a step further and criticized the Home Secretary on his return.

This act has certainly handed advantage to the Pakistani side who themselves were on the defensive with regard to the rumours suggesting that the peace talks have been spiked by the Pakistani Army Chief. In fact, Qureshi was criticized for equating Indian Home Secretary with Hafiz Sayeed by ex ISI chief Hamid Gul who felt that it would vitiate the climate. It appears Mr Krishna has taken the media comments about lack of personal rapport between the two Foreign Minsiters seriously and has decided to build the same even if it meant slighting a senior official speaking on the basis of authentic, corroborated information.

This flip-flop, one-step-forward-two-backward approach, is again very consistent with India when it comes to our dealings with our neighbour irrespective of which government is at the helm.

One would recall that in the immediate aftermath of the attack on Parliament, the BJP Government said that no talks with Pakistan were possible unless Pakistan handed over wanted Indian Nationals enjoying Pakistani hospitality.

We forgot it in due course. Similarly, in the aftermath of 26/11 in Mumbai, we kept insisting that talks without substantive action against Hafiz Sayeed and other masterminds would be futile.

Pakistan, on its part, kept insisting on dialogue. We went back to the negotiating table despite credible evidence indicating the ISI's involvement in ghastly attacks on Indians and Indian establishment in Kabul.

It is a mystery why that has not at all been mentioned despite Pakistani official levelling charges of Indian involvement in Baloochistan. It is true that the fragile nature of peace in the region under constant stress from radical elements makes it imperative for us to continue the dialogue but the people spearheading the dialogue ought to be better equipped and prepared to negotiate the treacherous path that Indo-Pak dialogue continues to take.
The writer is a New Delhi-based political commentator
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