Ominous nuclear portents
The people of North Korea are suffering from acute economic deprivations and related ills. The ruling regime has convinced the people by brainwashing them that their plight is owing to the United States and its protégé,South Korea. Therefore,North Korea should assert itself and,if necessary,retaliate by nuking South Korea,Japan,US islands in the Pacific and also the US mainland. In the recent past,North Korea has launched and tested several missiles. Pyongyangs latest assertion is that the moment of explosion is approaching fast and the US aggression would be smashed by cutting-edge smaller,lighter and diversified nuclear strike means. This may be another instance of war mongering and much sound and fury signifying nothing. However,in view of the unpredictable nature of the North Korean regime and its utter lack of responsibility as a nuclear nation,the probability of a nuclear exchange between North Korea and other nations,including the US,cannot be altogether ruled out. North Korea appears to have moved a medium-range missile capable of hitting targets in South Korea and Japan to its east coast. North Koreas military warned that it has been authorised to attack the US using smaller,lighter and diversified nuclear weapons. It was the Norths latest war cry against America in recent weeks. The reference to smaller weapons could be a claim that Pyongyang has improved its nuclear technology. Or it could be a boast. Nonetheless,effective retaliatory or rather preventive measures are the need of the hour. A strategic surgical strike with international backing should be explored. Come to think of it,the person responsible for nuclear armament of North Korea is disgraced Pakistan scientist A Q Khan,who boasted of his dream about producing an Islamic bomb and instead helped North Korea build its nuclear arsenal,miles away.
Peace activists gathered at Lahores Fawara Chowk on the 82nd death anniversary of revolutionary freedom fighter Bhagat Singh. They were pressing for renaming the roundabout after him. Shockingly,they were attacked by religious right-wing groups who had issued a warning that anyone who demanded the renaming of Shadman Chowk as Bhagat Singh Chowk would be considered a traitor,anti-national and anti-Islam. Some religious groups had placards which said Bhagat Singh was not only anti-Islam but was also an atheist. Posters and banners held by peace activists were torn up. The Pakistan Institute for Peace and Secular Studies (IPSS) issued a strong statement deploring how the democratic space for peaceful protest and pluralism has been hijacked by narrow-minded bigots who believe in imposing their version of Islam and nationalism on everyone. For the last several months,the issue has been in court. The Tehreek-e-Hurmat-e-Rasool,an organisation led by a Jamat-ud-Dawah leader,filed a petition against the attempt by the Lahore administration to rename Shadman Chowk as Bhagat Singh Chowk in memory of his hanging to death by the British at that spot in 1931. Prior to Partition,the roundabout was in fact known as Bhagat Singh Chowk. Civil society and political leaders in Pakistan should unequivocally condemn such acts which betray a perturbing mindset which is not at all conducive to friendly relations between both countries.
Intolerance transcends geographical boundaries and national frontiers. A live performance by a Pakistani pop-rock band,Jal,was cancelled at the last minute in Mumbai due to unforeseen circumstances. The so-called unforeseen circumstances have not been disclosed. However it is not hard to guess knowing the clout of the likes of Raj Thackeray and his MNS party,which revels in issuing threats to cricketers and artistes from Pakistan performing in our country. That this should have happened in Mumbai,a city in which I was born and bred and which is known for its multiculturalism and broadmindedness,is particularly painful to me. However,there is a silver lining. The Pakistan rock band is scheduled to play in Delhi this Friday at the Hard Rock Café and as things stand,the show will go on. Well done Delhi. Mumbai must redeem herself.
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