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    Rabble Rousing Random Ramblings by S Jagadish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

    November 15, 2005

    Rushdie: The greatest calamity of all may lie ahead of us

    In an evocative piece in The Times, Salman Rushdie points out that with winter almost upon the people of Jammu & Kashmir and Pakistan occupied Kashmir, the absence of substantial aid and relief could ensure that more people suffer and die.

    But the people of Kashmir deserve better than they are getting. They certainly do not deserve to be subjected to a kind of "political test" of aid-worthiness. Yet, ever since the day of the earthquake, people in the US and Europe have been asking me and many others the same politically loaded questions: will the disaster "help"? Will it allow India and Pakistan to sink their differences and, at long last, make an end of their long Kashmiri quarrel? It has been hard to avoid the conclusion that Western attitudes to aiding Kashmir are dependent to some degree on the answer to these questions being "yes".
    Alas, the answer is "no". India and Pakistan are still mired in mutual suspicion, as the saga of the Indian helicopters revealed. (India offered them, but Pakistan refused to accept unless they were flown by Pakistani pilots, a condition that India in turn refused to accept, and, in the meanwhile, the quake victims went right on dying.) Also, as the murder by militants of a Kashmiri moderate politician showed, and as the bombs in Delhi would seem to confirm, there are Islamist groups who are determined to continue to sabotage any improvement in Indo-Pakistani relations, and as long as those groups find sanctuary in Pakistan, a peace settlement will be impossible.
    He is practical enough to rightly realize that the romantics' wish that this disaster would perhaps bring India and Pakistan closer to each other will remain just a pipedream, given the fracas over helicopters and accepting relief from India. In fact he seems to suggest that aid is being given with the hope that the differences between the two countries will vanish overnight, just as Pervez Musharraf's wish for the Kashmir issue to be resolved overnight.

    Rushdie also hints at a potential compassion fatigue following last year's tsunami and hurricanes in North America.

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