Peace with Pakistan in our interest: Shashi Tharoor

By Manish Chand, IANS,

New Delhi: Amid Abu Jundal’s revelations about the involvement of Pakistani state agencies in 26/11, former minister and MP Shashi Tharoor says that there is “a systematic effort” to shield the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attack but says “it is in our interest to have peace with Pakistan” because development was not possible with troubled borders.

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“There is an element of connivance of the Pakistani establishment, revealed by David Headley and now Abu Jundal, which hasn’t been dealt with convincingly by the Pakistani authorities,” Tharoor, a former minister of state for external affairs, told IANS in an interview here.

“We have every reason to worry that there is a systematic effort to shield perpetrators of 26/11,” he said.
However, he said, there was “a realistic case” for India to make peace with Pakistan.

“It’s in our interest to have peace with Pakistan. We have aspirations for ourselves and our people which are not compatible with hostility with Pakistan. We won’t be able to focus on development if we have troubled borders,” he said.

Tharoor, an MP from Thiruvananthapuram and a former UN official, was minister of state for external affairs when India’s relations with Pakistan were severely strained after the 26/11 attacks and the dialogue process between the two countries was frozen.

Tharoor attributes the dismal state of India-Pakistan relations and the slow pace of 26/11 justice to the stranglehold of Pakistan’s military-dominated establishment. “There are elements in Pakistan who don’t want peace with India because it will destroy their excessive claim to influence. Pakistan will not be a military-dominated state if the military can’t persuade the country that there is a threat from India,” he said.

In his new book “Pax Indica: India and the World of the 21st Century,” (published by Penguin), Tharoor writes: “The central problem bedevilling the relationship between the two subcontinental neighbours is not, as Pakistani propagandists like to suggest, Kashmir, but rather the nature of the Pakistani state itself – specifically, the stranglehold over Pakistan of the world’s most lavishly funded military (in terms of percentage of national resources and GDP consumed by any army on the planet).”

Pitching for multi-alignment as New Delhi’s model of diplomacy in a multi-piolar 21st century world, Tharoor has used the metaphor of the worldwide web in Pax Indica to describe how India can juggle a series of “networked relationships” to realise its foreign policy goals for the larger overarching goal of domestic transformation and national renaissance.

In Pax Indica, Tharoor writes: “What, then, is the way forward for India? It is clear that we want peace more than Pakistan does, because we have more at stake when peace is violated.”

Tharoor, however, cautions that even as India tries to improve its ties with Pakistan, it has to be careful about the history of betrayals and terror attacks.

“(Then prime minister) Atal Bihari Vajpayee goes to Lahore (in 1999) for peace and he is rewarded with Kargil. The relations with Pakistan improved a lot under the Manmohan Singh government and the (Pakistan President Asif Ali) Zardari government in 2008 and then we get 26/11,” he said.

“Every attempt for peace is undermined by an act of betrayal or attack (on the part of Pakistan),” he said.

Invoking the much-touted friendly relations between the US and Canada, Tharoor suggested that if India’s ties with Pakistan improves, the Pakistani military will be reduced in influence like the Canadian military.

(Manish Chand can be contacted at [email protected])