Land to political parties
Union and state governments provide land to political parties at highly subsidised rates, apart from providing government bungalows and other accommodations at rent much-much below the market-rate of that area. This is indirect government-funding making one of the grounds for political parties being under purview of RTI Act. Since political parties are not complying with full-bench CIC-verdict holding them under purview of RTI Act, Union and state governments should take immediate steps to abolish providing land at subsidised cost to political parties, and allotting government-accommodations to them.

Buildings on land already provided by governments to political parties should be taken over by respective governments in case of split in a political party. Divisions after divisions in Congress party left its one time headquarters at 7 Jantar-Mantar Road (New Delhi) in very bad condition. Rashtriya Janta Dal President even named building built on land provided by Union government in New Delhi after his wife, with building not used for years after its construction.

Union and state governments should ensure vacation of existing government-accommodations from political parties by giving reasonable time, say by end of year 2018 (before next Lok Sabha elections) failing which political parties not vacating government-accommodations be de-registered and disqualified from contesting elections.
Subhash Chandra Agrawal, Delhi

India and Pakistan
It is important to note that after a very positive period of peace and increased cooperation between India and Pakistan between 2011 and 2012, the relations between the two countries have again become unstable since January 2013 with continued skirmishes on the borders. It is reported that this year has seen over 50 cease-fire violations that is not in the interest of either country or for peace and cooperation in the entire region. The situation demands increased bilateral exchanges and continued adherence to the policy of uninterrupted and uninterruptable talks to resolve the long standing issues.

In such a situation any disruption in taking forward the bilateral processes would be unfortunate and strengthens the hands of the hawks and hardliners and will be detrimental for the people of the sub-continent and undermine the efforts to boost the economy and eliminate poverty from the region.

It must be noted that meetings between Huriyat leaders and the officials and visiting dignitaries from Pakistan has been a practice for long. Whenever Pakistani President, Prime Minister or foreign ministers visit India they meet Huriyat leaders. Even during Atal Bihari Vajpayee regime in 2001 when then Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf came to India he had a meeting with the Huriyat leaders. However, in the current instance, when the Indian Government had requested the Pakistan High Commission to avoid meeting Huriyat leaders, Pakistan could have deferred the meetings in the interest of the larger peace process. On the other hand if India had any reservations about such meetings despite their communication, they could have expressed their resentment in many ways prior to resorting to a step like cancellation of the talks altogether.

Undue importance should not be given to such meetings and the process of dialogue should continue under all circumstances in the interest of finding durable solutions and avenues for cooperation and development in the region.

Admiral Ramdas, Mumbai, Ashok Chowdary, Lucknow, Jatin Desai, Mumbai, Kamla Basin, New Delhi, Kuldip Nayar, New Delhi, L.S.Hardenia, Bhopal Lalita Ramdas, Mumbai, Mahesh Bhatt, Mumbai, Mazher Hussain, Hyderabad, P. Kodanda Ramiah, Bangalore, Ramesh Yadav, Amritsar Sandeep Pandey, Lucknow

Adam Malik and Muneer Memon—Society for Secular Pakistan, Anoushae Alam—Pakistan Peace , Coalition, Assad Iqbal Butt—Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, B.M. Kutty—PILER and Pakistan Peace Coalition, Dr. Sonu Kangharani—Hisaar Foundation, Ishaq Mangrio—Hyderabad Press Club, Karamat AN—PILER, Lateef Mughal—Peoples Labour Forum, Mohamad Tahseen, South Asia partnership, Muqtida Mansoor—Political Analyst, Noman Quadri—Lawyer & Human Right Activist, Saeed Baloch—Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, Salam Dharejo—Peace Activist, Suleman G. Abro and Zulfiqar Halipoto—SAFWCO, Momin Khan Momin—Centre 50 plus.

[The statement was issued in view of the cancelled foreign secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan that were scheduled on 25th August, 2014]

Vol. 47, No. 23, Dec 14 - 20, 2014