Member of the Lok Sabha and former Indian external affairs minister Dr Shashi Tharoor blamed Pakistan’s powerful military establishment as ‘the main hurdle’ in direct peaceful relations with India.
Speaking at a policy discussion seminar titled “India and Pakistan: Cooperation or Conflict?” organised by the Jinnah Institute, Tharoor said that New Delhi is genuinely committed to establishing peaceful relations with Islamabad.
“The only apprehension on India’s part was the issue of terrorism; however, we want sustainable peace between the two countries,” he said.
Tharoor went on to say that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is pursuing fresh rounds of peace talks with Pakistan.
However, the Indian Member of Parliament did not stop short of claiming India’s multiple initiatives for peace were not responded to by Pakistan.
“During natural disasters, India offered Pakistan direct donations but they were rejected while the same were accepted when given through the United Nations.”
He said that Pakistan defines itself in opposition to India, and added that cooperation is the only way forward.
Tharoor also welcomed efforts made by President Asif Ali Zardari for trade links with India, and said that it reflected how important it is for Pakistan to normalise relations with India.
However, he said that the civilian initiatives by Pakistan are unlikely to take off because of the strategic view of the Pakistani military.
“Pakistanis interested in peace and regional security will definitely find willing partners in India.”
‘No hand in Balochistan violence’
Tharoor rejected allegations that India was creating trouble in Balochistan. “I am not an ordinary street man who only reads newspapers; I have access to the quarters where decision-making takes place and I can assure you that there is nothing remotely close to what you are assuming,” Tharoor said, while replying to a question.
He added that India is an emerging global player and cannot afford instability in its neighbours.
For the fulfillment of India’s global ambitions, it wants stability in the region which cannot be achieved without a stable Pakistan, he added.
Tharoor served as United Nations’ Under-Secretary General for Communications and Public Information from 1996 to 2007 and currently represents the constituency of Thiruvananthapuram in the Lok Sabha.
Tharoor is among the Jinnah Institute’s the first Distinguished Speakers of the ongoing Indo-Pakistan Track-II engagement termed the Chaophraya Dialogue.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 6th, 2012.
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