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PUCL Bulletin, January 2003

Stop the arms race, Give peace a chance

-- by Neelofar Haram

"Today the US has not even left space free and has plans to control it by keeping its nuclear weapons there," warned writer Achin Vanaik in a workshop held by Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament & Peace held at Humayun's in Delhi in the last week of November. The idea behind the Workshop was to emphasise that Human Rights are safe only in a setting of Peace.

Mr Achin Vanaik said that after the end of cold war in 1991 the US emerged as the only super power and since then it started influencing the entire world both politically as well as economically.

Talking about the new world order and arms race, Mr Vanaik said that the threat of nuclear war was more at regional level than at the international level. He opined that there was a possibility of nuclear war in the next 20 years, which would destroy everything regionally.

While highlighting the issue of ever growing US imperialism, he warned every one of its severe repercussions. He warned that the entry of transnational corporations in countries like India was an attack on their economic independence. He added that America was slowly and systematically entering into all the countries of the world and the current US warning to Iraq was nothing but another deceit being practiced by America. "Iraq does not have a single bomb, although it made an attempt in 1980. But it is surrounded by oil producing countries and here lies America's interest," he added.

He asserted that US had vested interest in the economic and natural resources of the Asian countries which was driving it close towards Iraq, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, etc. He further said that the US could not enter Asia till Sept 11,2001 attack on WTC, but the attack has easily solved its problem now.

It was also revealed that since dollar is used as an international currency, corrupt American policy is influencing the global economy. Citing examples of tension between India and Pakistan, he said that US was no one's friend, it was just interested in exploiting human and natural resources of the third world countries.

Also present at the occasion was Mr Qamar Agha who spoke about US hegemony not only in the Indian sub-continent but also in the entire West Asia. In this connection, he mentioned the rule of Khomeini in the 1980's and the spread of anti American sentiments in the region. He highlighted the fact that America is trying to threaten those governments, which do not function according to its inclinations. "Iran is important for US because it has abundant resources. As for US war against Iraq, it is nothing but an attempt to show its supremacy over the Central Asian region," elucidated Mr Qamar Agha.

Mr Balraj Puri raised the Kashmir issue as a potential spot of threat to peace and urged both the Indian and Pakistani government to stop innocent killings. "Don't kill those who are not involved in militancy or other violent activities," he added.

He said that Kashmir issue was not only sensitive but also complicated and hence he stressed on the need of dealing these issues one by one. At this he said, "Break the topic of cross border terrorism into smaller issues and try to solve them." When asked for a solution of Kashmir problem Mr Puri said, "The best way to deal with Kashmir problem is to have an internal dialogue amongst Kashmiri Pundits, Muslims, and the Buddhists." He emphasised re-building the lost identity of all the Kashmiris, he said, "People want recognition of their identity and dignity."

Activists, Md. Amin and Dr. Amit highlighted the problems of Kashmiri youth. While Mr Amin condemned the present Central government and its tactics of using Kashmir issue to win elections in U.P or Gujarat, Dr. Amit demanded freedom for Kashmiri boys and girls.

Mr Amin said that when BJP released terrorists in the valley nothing happened but today when the Mufti government released those who were already bailed, the Central government made hue and cry. Showing deep concern for those charged under one case, released by the court, only to be arrested by some other department, Mr Amin said that Kashmiri youth are sick of this kind of game. "The media has made the mind-set of a common person that all Kashmiris are terrorists," he fretted.

Dr. Amit highlighted the psychological effects of the on going violence there, and said, "Normal outing for a person to remain healthy is necessary but in Kashmir youths can't go out after 10'o clock at night."

"The police are interfering too much in the private life of youngsters so much so that couples have to carry their Nikahnaamaa or marriage certificate as a proof as to why they are hanging out together," he added. He further added that there were not many places where young boys and girl friends could meet with each other, resulting in the slowing down of the process of normal socialisation. He pointed out health problems like stress disorders, trauma, and distress amongst youngsters due to non- interaction with their peer groups. Dr. Amit also raised the issue of brain drain; he said that the educated elite class is moving out of the State and that no one is bothered about the future of younger generation.

Both of them agreed that killings were from both the sides but now the region need a healing touch. "Everyone has to work together on the process of promoting peace," they emphasised.

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