Sunday June 24, 2018
Home India Kuldip Nayar ...

Kuldip Nayar says Lal Bahadur Shastri was sure of Indo-Pak peace

0
//
294
Republish
Reprint

New Delhi: Kuldip Nayar, senior journalist and a close associate of India’s second Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, said that the former PM was confident of the peace in the subcontinent and he inked the Tashkent Accord with Pakistan on January 10 to facilitate stability in the region. Nayar stated that the reason behind the collapse of the accord was Shastri’s death next day.

“Shastri was very sagacious. He firmly believed India could make peace with Pakistan but not with China,” said Nayar in an interview, adding that it was the Prime Minister, who got the then Pakistani President Field Marshal Ayub Khan to pencil in the words “without resorting to arms” in the first draft of the Tashkent Agreement.

Under the agreement, the two countries agreed that their armies would return to the positions they held on August 5, 1965, the day they went to war for the second time after the partition of the subcontinent in 1947.

“Ayub Khan was inclined but (Pakistani foreign minister Zulfikar Ali) Bhutto stormed out of the negotiations, saying he would denounce the President (back) home. After Shastri died (in circumstances that are still suspect), and thanks to Bhutto, whatever had been achieved at Tashkent collapsed in Rawalpindi (then the Pakistani capital), Nayar, still sharp as a razor in spite of his 93 years and possibly the only survivor of Tashkent, noted.

Reinforcing this view, Nayar recalled Ayub Khan saying on the morning of Shastri’s death: “Here lies the man who could have brought Pakistan and India close.”

Ayub Khan, in fact, was one of the two front pall-bearers (on the left) who carried Shastri’s coffin to the aircraft that transported it to New Delhi.

Elaborating on Shastri’s sagacity, Nayar pointed to a letter, then Shah of Iran, Mohammad Raza Pahlavi, wrote to Ayub Khan in the wake of the Chinese invasion of India in 1962, asking him to send Pakistani troops to beat back the invaders.

“A copy was marked to (India’s first prime minister) Jawaharlal Nehru, who sought (home minister) Shastri’s comments. Don’t accept it, Shastri said because if tomorrow Pakistan asks for Kashmir (still a sticking point between the two nations on which they have fought four wars), we’ll be in a difficult situation,” Nayar contended.

Shastri had assumed office after soon after India’s first Prime Minister died on May 24, 1964, in spite of the fact that it was widely felt that Nehru wanted his daughter, Indira Gandhi to succeed him.

So how did Tashkent, now the capital of Uzbekistan but at that time part of the undivided Soviet Union, come to be chosen as the venue of the peace negotiations?

“The Americans stepped in (after the 1965 war ended) but Shastri said ‘No. They have given them (Pakistan) arms. We can’t trust them. The Soviets stepped in; they said, come to Tashkent, known for its kababs and good food. Shastri was a strict vegetarian, but he said, let’s go.”

Though, military cooperation between India and the Soviet Union had begun soon after the 1962 war with China, this took a quantum leap soon after the Tashkent Accord and today, India imports almost 70 percent of its armaments from Russia, the successor state after the collapse of the Cold War superpower.

Nayar also said there was much bonhomie between the Indian and Pakistani delegations, as also between the journalists of the two countries who were reporting on the talks.

“We (the journalists) were staying in the same hotel. Bahut milna julna tha. Saath khate peete the (There was much camadaraderia. We used to eat and drink together. After Shastri’s death, all of them came to sympathize with us). The next morning, even people on the street came to sympathize with us,” Nayar recalled.

As for the circumstances of Shastri’s death hours after the Tashkent Accord was signed, Nayar said: “There is a general perception that he was poisoned, there should be an enquiry, even though a long time has elapsed.

The government says there are certain papers whatever papers there are make them public.”

Speaking about the future of India-Pakistan ties, Nayar saw great hope. “There are fringe elements (as evidenced in the attack on the Pathankot IAF air base soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dramatic visit to Lahore via Kaul after a state visit to Moscow), but everyone realises that peace must prevail,” he said.

“Had people like Lal Bahadur Shastri been around, all this would not have happened,” Nayar concluded.(Vishnu Makhijani, IANS)(Image:eastcoastdaily.in)

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2016 NewsGram

Next Story

Across Asia’s Borders, Survivors Of Human Trafficking, Dial in for Justice

The trial has been ongoing since 2013

0
Tara Khokon Miya is seen in her village home in Shipur, Bangladesh, Feb. 26, 2018. She is helping to prepare her 27-year-old daughter to testify via videoconferencing technology against the men who trafficked her to India.
Tara Khokon Miya is seen in her village home in Shipur, Bangladesh, Feb. 26, 2018. She is helping to prepare her 27-year-old daughter to testify via videoconferencing technology against the men who trafficked her to India. VOA

When Neha Maldar testified against the traffickers who enslaved her as a sex worker in India, she spoke from the safety of her own country, Bangladesh, via videoconferencing, a technology that could revolutionize the pursuit of justice in such cases.

The men in the western city of Mumbai appeared via video link more than 2,000 km (1,243 miles) west of Maldar as she sat in a government office in Jessore, a major regional hub for sex trafficking, 50 km from Bangladesh’s border with India.

“I saw the people who had trafficked me on the screen and I wasn’t scared to identify them,” Maldar, who now runs a beauty parlor from her home near Jessore, told Reuters. “I was determined to see them behind bars.”

“I told them how I was beaten for refusing to work in the brothel in the beginning and how the money I made was taken away,” she said, adding that she had lied to Indian authorities about her situation after being rescued, out of fear.

Thousands of people from Bangladesh and Nepal — mainly poor, rural women

and children — are lured to India each year by traffickers who promise good jobs but sell them into prostitution or domestic servitude, anti-slavery activists say.

Activists hope the safe, convenient technology could boost convictions. A Bangladeshi sex trafficker was jailed for the first time in 2016 on the strength of a victim’s testimony to a court in Mumbai via video link from Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital.

Convictions for cross-border trafficking in the region are rare as most victims choose not to pursue cases that have traditionally required them to testify in Indian courts, which meant staying in a shelter for the duration of the trial.

“They have always wanted to go back home, to their families,” said Shiny Padiyara, a legal counsel at the Indian charity Rescue Foundation that has facilitated videoconferencing cases and runs shelters for trafficking victims. “And most never return to testify.”

But videoconferencing is making it easier to pursue justice. Survivors have given statements, identified their traffickers, and been cross examined in at least 10 other ongoing international cases in Bangladesh, advocates said.

“Enabling victims to testify via video conference will lead to a possible decrease in acquittal rates for want of prime witnesses,” said Adrian Phillips of Justice and Care, a charity that supports the use of video testimony to help secure justice.

Even then, it is tough. During Maldar’s three-hour deposition, she withstood a tough cross-examination, showed identity documents to prove her age and countered allegations by the defense lawyer that she was lying about her identity.

Students Combat Human Trafficking
Students Combat Human Trafficking, flickr

‘Unpardonable’

Tara Khokon Miya is preparing her 27-year-old daughter to testify against the men who trafficked her to India from Dhaka, where she had been working in a garment factory.

“I almost lost my daughter forever,” she said, sitting in her home in Magura, less than 50 km from Jessore, describing how she disappeared after work and was taken to a brothel in India, and raped and beaten for almost a year before being rescued.

“What the traffickers did to my daughter was unpardonable,” Miya said, wiping her tears. “We seek justice. I nurtured her in my womb and can’t describe what it felt like to not know about her whereabouts.”

The trial has been ongoing since 2013 when the young woman, who declined to be named, was repatriated. The charity Rights Jessore is helping the family through the process, by providing counseling and rehearsing cross-examination.

“The best thing is her father will be by her side when she talks in court,” Miya said, finally breaking into a smile.

India signed a bilateral agreement with Bangladesh in 2015 to ensure faster trafficking investigations and prosecutions, and with Nepal in 2017, and laid down basic procedures to encourage the use of videoconferencing in court proceedings.

“The procedure is very transparent,” said judge K M Mamun Uzzaman at Jessore courthouse, which often converts its conference hall into a courtroom for videoconferencing cases to protect survivors’ privacy.

“I’m usually present and victims are able to testify confidently … it is easy and cost effective for us,” he said. “But the biggest beneficiaries are the survivors.”

Silencing Victims
Silencing Victims, pixabay

The future

Videoconferencing in Bangladesh has been plagued by technical glitches such as power cuts and poor connections.

“Sometimes the internet connection is weak or it gets disconnected during the testimony,” said Binoy Krishna Mallick head of Rights Jessore, a pioneer in using this technology to encourage trafficking survivors to pursue justice. “But these are just teething troubles.”

The bigger challenge, activists say, is to ensure survivors remain committed to the trial despite delays caused by a backlog of cases and witnesses’ failure to appear to testify.

Swati Chauhan, one of the first judges to experiment with video testimony in 2010, is convinced that technology can eliminate many of these hurdles.

Also read: Imagining Panun Kashmir: Dissent And Detente in South Asia

“Victims go through a lot of trauma, so it is natural that they don’t want to confront their trafficker in a court — but that doesn’t mean they don’t want the trafficker to be punished,” she said. “A videoconference requires meticulous planning and it is not easy coordinating between departments and countries. But it is the future for many seeking justice.” (VOA)