Speaking on the theme, "India and Pakistan: Cooperation or conflict", at an event organised by the Jinnah Institute, a leading think tank, Tharoor noted that elements in Pakistan had for long sponsored terrorists and jihadis as part of a policy meant to "bleed India" while compensating for the asymmetry in conventional forces.
The Pakistan Army was one of the most "lavishly funded" armies of the world and has a "stranglehold over policy" while no elected civilian government had ever completed its term, he pointed out.
It was not in Pakistan's interests for the army to get a "grossly disproportionate share" of the GDP and the budget, said Tharoor, who arrived in Lahore on Tuesday on a four-day Pakistan visit.
"The army lays down the red lines that political leaders dare not cross," he said. The army also preserves the "myth of an Indian threat", the former minister of state for external affairs underlined.
This civil-military imbalance made people in India wonder whether the government was doing the right thing by holding talks with a civilian administration in Pakistan that neither controls nor launches militants for terrorist attacks, he said.
Each terror attack, he said, undermines the minority who believe peace is possible.
People in India also questioned whether the Pakistan Army would agree if a civilian dispensation decided that India is not a threat, Tharoor remarked.
In this regard, he said peace overtures made by President Asif Ali Zardari shortly after he came to power and the army's negative reaction to them showed that the President "went farther than the army was willing to allow him to".
Pakistan's policy of "strategic depth" in Afghanistan and any efforts to wrest Kashmir from India too are not in Islamabad's interests, he said.
At the same time, Pakistan was suffering due to its policy of financing and training jihadis for 20 years as the terrorists were now targeting military establishments like the army's General Headquarters and a naval airbase in Karachi, he said.
Addressing Pakistan's concerns about India, Tharoor said the people of India were "totally reconciled to Pakistan's existence as an independent state" and no one believes that the events of 1971 - which led to the creation of Bangladesh - can be replicated.
He noted that the 1971 war was a "special case" precipitated by a Pakistani crackdown on the people of erstwhile East Pakistan.
Answering questions from the audience after his speech, Tharoor made it clear that India had neither the intention nor capability to foment unrest in Balochistan.
A strong and stable Pakistan was in India's interest, he said. India was essentially a "status quoist" country and there could be peace between the two sides if they agreed on "mutually acceptable parameters", Tharoor said.
While terrorist groups have a momentum of their own and cannot be turned off like a tap, Pakistan and India can focus on softer issues like a free trade pact and educational exchanges to improve relations, Tharoor noted.
He also called for greater interaction between India and Pakistan on Afghanistan, where an "unhealthy sense of competition" had developed. Though both countries were often on opposite sides, a stable, moderate and functional Afghanistan was in the interest of both sides, he said.
In response to a question on the failure by both sides to reach an agreement to end the military standoff on the Siachen glacier, Tharoor acknowledged that there had been a "hardening" of the Indian stance after Pakistan-backed infiltrators occupied strategic heights in Kargil in 1999.
There were fears that a unilateral withdrawal by Indian troops would be taken advantage of, he said.
Courtesy: Hindustan Times
Friday, January 06, 2012
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The News on Sunday Special Report: India Pakistan prisoners more editions
We probably didn't need to do this Special Report. Newspaper stories don't matter when it comes to Indians in Pakistani jails and vice versa. In fact, 'vice versa' sums it up. We do to them what they do to us.
Except when the two countries decide to begin talking, yet again! This time a little before the foreign secretary level talks, some Pakistani prisoners were released by India (and vice versa must have happened) and some more were release....read more
For the past 2 years the Jang Group and Geo have been working on a project of great national interest; one that we hope will help usher in an era of peace and prosperity in the country and indeed, in the region. And one that hopefully all Pakistanis can be proud of. more
The Jang Group has entered into an agreement with the Times of India Group, the largest media group of India, to campaign for peace betw