Of Kashmiri Kids and Obama's NATO

Just the other day, they were telling us how bad the situation is in Mumbai. How do you solve this problem? Bring a group of Kashmiri kids. Here is what happens:

Even though many would prefer the serenity of the valleys of Kashmir, for this bunch of Kashmiri students currently touring Mumbai, the hustle-bustle and traffic jams of the city are more appealing. “It feels so good and comforting to walk into a city where people are not living in constant fear,” said Shabbir Ahmed, a 16-year-old student from Khadi, Kashmir.

This boy’s father or uncle or grandfather is probably in Mumbai selling handicrafts. And not because he wants to feel safe, but because the jobs have dried up in Kashmir.

Are such initiatives worth it? This has been arranged by the 23 RR Battalion of the Indian Army. Major Gurudev Jajot said:

“Our aim is to wipe out this stigma of isolation that they face and to motivate them to dream high.”

In what way is it a stigma? There are people living in many remote villages in our country. They are isolated too. By emphasising on the stigma associated with Kashmiris, it only makes it more evident and real. It is nice that children from different places interact, but not with such an agenda in mind.

Does a Kashmiri not dream high? And even if s/he does not, there can be several factors. Again, how many high dreamers are there in Chhatisgarh or even Chunabatti in Mumbai?

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I do hope Pakistan has sent a Thank You note to Barack Obama for not saying sorry for the NATO strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. It exposes his arrogance.

Some administration aides also worried that if Mr. Obama were to overrule the military and apologize to Pakistan, such a step could become fodder for his Republican opponents in the presidential campaign, according to several officials who declined to be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

The military units are sent by the US civilian administration. A democratically-elected leader can overrule the military, just as he can recall them. That is what has been done all along, so why the protocol now? If he is only looking at electoral gains, then he would benefit from the apology because Pakistan will be eager to accept it due to their tacit understanding.

Cameron Munter, the United States ambassador to Pakistan, would have liked it to fix the US-Pak situation, but others disagreed:

Defense Department officials balked. While they did not deny some American culpability in the episode, they said expressions of remorse offered by senior department officials and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton were enough, at least until the completion of a United States military investigation establishing what went wrong.

Wonderful. Even if the Americans and the Pakistanis give different explanations, the fact is that these soldiers were killed, and not by the militants. Where are the investigations when the Americans get trigger-happy? Will there be an inquiry into whether they were defending themselves? Against whom? The militants or the soldiers?

If the top defense guys do not know what their troops were upto, then Pakistan could use them to stand guard outside Habib Bank or something in Karachi.

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