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July 05 - 11,1999

KARGIL: US STANCE EMBOLDENS INDIA

Kargil and its adjacent areas, across the line of control, have been under intense Indian shelling for more than a month now. Indian air strikes in this sector, during this period, have not been mild either. In fact, it stands intensified to a devastating extent since the conflict started.

Pakistan has been urging the United States, the United Nations, the G-8 member countries, and other developed nations of the world to mediate and compel India to come to the negotiations table to find a mutually acceptable solution to the current crisis. It has also been urging them to pressurise India to make serious and sincere efforts to urgently resolve the larger (core) issue of Kashmir.

India, as the whole world knows, continues to be adamant to pursue a policy of blatant aggression against Pakistan, and are leaving no stone unturned to drag Pakistan into a full-fledged war. While doing so, it tends to forget that war is going to prove to be extremely devastating for both the countries. The present conflict, if not immediately checked by the powerful western nations, it may escalate to an extent that it would prove to be catastrophic for not only India and Pakistan, but for the entire South Asian region.

Although the G-8 countries, in its recent summit, have unanimously agreed that the present conflict between India and Pakistan must be brought to an immediate end, through negotiations between the two warring countries, it does not lay any emphasis whatsoever on resolution of the larger issue of occupied Kashmir.

Pakistan is extremely perturbed over West's narrow approach and double standards in dealing with this extremely sensitive issue. If the United States and its Allies could, through the good offices of the United Nations Security Council, prevail on Indonesia to grant right of sef-determination to the people of East Timor; if the US and its powerful NATO Allies could bring Yugoslavia's dictatorial regime down on its knees to resolve the Kosovo crisis, why can't they prevail on India with the same might and resolve to bring the decades old Kashmir issue to its logical end? Why can't they prevail on the United Nations to grant right of self-determination to the people of occupied Kashmir, in accordance with the United Nations Security Council resolutions of 1948.

The United States of America and its Allies have now got an opportunity to prove to the Pakistani nation that their policies are not discriminatory or country specific. In order to do so, they will have to take immediate and tangible measures to resolve the Kashmir issue. Kashmir has been a bone of contention between Pakistan and India for more than five decades now. It has done more harm than good to the interests of the people living on both sides of the divide. Besides being a constant source of threat and instability to inimical India and Pakistan, it has also been a source of perpetual threat to the region. The West must acknowledge that a stable and prosperous South Asia is in their interest too, both in economic terms and otherwise. It must therefore assign top priority to the resolution of this issue, to bring stability and prosperity not only to the subcontinent, but to the entire region. Time is, however, running out fast. Endeavours of the powerful nations of the West to seek a prompt resolution of this vital problem will bring peace, prosperity, and stability to the region. On the contrary, callousness on their part may, God forbid, plunge the region into devastation of an unimaginable magnitude. The developed nations of the world and the United Nations Security Council must, therefore, act before its too late.

Islamabad M. Fazal Elahi

 

Profitters are free to operate at their will

Flouteng all legal requirements for increasing the prices, the Pakistan Tobacco Company increased prices of its different brands of cigarettes soon after the announcement of increase in Excise Duty on cigarettes from 63 per cent to 70 per cent in the federal budget proposals on June 12,1999.

The retail price of Gold Leaf brand was increased from Rs29/- per pack to Rs34/ while some profiteers are selling it even at a price of Rs35/-.

Now the government withdrawn the increase in Excise duty a week ago and the duty rate was brought back to the pre-budget position. However the increased prices on cigarettes have not been withdrawn by the cigarette company so far. According to vendors shops, the distributors of the cigarettes are pleading that the decison of withdrawal would be taken on July 1,1999. Infact all budgetary measures including increase in prices or taxes were required to be enforced with effect from July 1,1999 as clearly stated by the Federal Finance Minister while pronouncing the budget proposals. However the profiteers are free to operate at their will in this country. The government mechanism, on which billions are spent by the poor through exorbitant indirect taxes, miserably failed to protect the people from the clutches of the profiteers who are out to make money without any fear of law. It is the basic requirement of the good governance that such elements should be checked strictly to restore the confidence of the people in the government mechanism.

Karachi Shuja karim