Taliban in our midst

The Taliban,in virtual control of northern parts of Pakistan,has exhibited its fanatical mindset....

Written by Soli J. Sorabjee | Published: February 1, 2009 12:56:31 am

The Taliban,in virtual control of northern parts of Pakistan,has exhibited its fanatical mindset. Young girls are prohibited on pain of death from attending schools. All this is done in the name of Allah and to preserve Koranic values. Regrettably,we also have a Taliban in our midst. This is evident from the brutal attack by members of the Sri Rama Sene on young girls in a pub in Mangalore. God and preservation of Indian culture is the spurious justification offered. There is no repentance for these savage acts by Pramod Muttalik,the founder of the Sri Rama Sene. If objectionable activities take place in a pub,by all means take stern action against the owner and the participants in accordance with the law. But hooligans masquerading as protectors of religion and spiritual values cannot take the law into their hands. This pernicious trend must be eliminated lest our lives be ruled by murderous bigots and the rule of law becomes an impotent spectator. Swift and stringent action is the need of the hour. The notion that such criminal acts can be committed with impunity must be thoroughly dispelled.

A disturbing aspect is the presence of the media near the pub before the gruesome incident took place. Obviously they were tipped off in advance in which case it was their duty to inform the police about the planned attack. Was the temptation of first reporting the incident with gory particulars too strong for the media to resist? Another distressing feature is the reluctance of the people to come to the rescue of the girls. It was Pawan Kumar Shetty,a young boy who single-handedly took on the rampaging mob,thereby helping several young girls escape. He surely deserves a Padma.

It is horrifying that a fine administrator like Ashok Ghelot,the Chief Minister of Rajasthan,is afflicted with the intolerant puritanical Taliban mentality. Is the innocuous act of young girls and boys holding hands in malls and pubs morally blameworthy? What about holding hands and walking in Budha Jayanti Park? Is that also immoral and a violation of our Indian traditions? Has the Chief Minister never experienced the thrill and

delight of romance in his youth? Chief Ministers should focus their attention on solutions of urgent national problems rather than bemoan pub culture and in the bargain encourage Taliban culture.

Well done,Obama

Barak Obama’s first decision as the President of America was to shut down Guantanamo Bay as he had indicated during his election speeches. It was a difficult decision fraught with problems. Where would these numerous detainees be now located? To which countries would they be deported? What happens if the countries of their origin refuse to accept them? Security advisors must have strongly impressed upon Obama the necessity of maintaining Guantanamo Bay and not to bother about the dangerous detainees who are bereft of human rights. However,Obama values the human dignity of every person,whether he or she is a suspected traitor or a terrorist. He kept his word and shut down the horrible detention centre.

Well done,Mr President. The free world lauds your bold decision.

Salutary blow for transparency

The Information Tribunal set up under the UK Freedom of Information Act in a path-breaking decision ordered the UK government to release the confidential minutes of the Cabinet meetings at which the decision to join the US led invasion of Iraq was taken. The meetings,held on March 13 and 17,2003,discussed the legality of the invasion of Iraq under international law and the advice given by the then Attorney-General Lord Goldsmith. According to the Tribunal,“maintaining the confidentiality of the formal minutes of two Cabinet meetings at which ministers decided to commit forces to military action in Iraq did not outweigh the public interest in disclosure.” At the same time the Tribunal did not order disclosure of some portions of the discussions and sensitive material in order to protect Britain’s foreign policy. This balanced decision is a salutary blow for transparency in public administration and is worthy of emulation.

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