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Come in and join the party, Tharoor advises Pak

October 26, 2009 16:15 IST
India supports American efforts in Pakistan, but is concerned about the diversion of United States' aid and military equipment by Islamabad against it.

"We have actually applauded the US supporting Pakistan on two things. First is its own economic development, and the second is equipping it to overcome the homegrown horror of terrorism," Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor said.

"But our bitter experience over the last 25 years has been, ever since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, money gets poured in from Washington into Islamabad, and a colossally high percentage of it is actually spent, not on the purposes that Washington intends, but to buy tanks and planes and artillery aimed directly at India," Tharoor told CNN in an interview.

Asserting that India wants peace and to develop deep relations with Pakistan, Tharoor said that every effort towards this has come from New Delhi, while every such gesture has been thwarted by Pakistan.

"India would say to you very honestly, every gesture for peace has been made by our side; every gesture that has thwarted peace has come from the other side. And that's the regrettable thing," the minister said.

"Pakistan needs peace as much as we do. When will they come to the realisation that it's in their interest to end this unproductive approach?" he asked.

For a productive partnership, Tharoor said Pakistan will have to act decisively to cauterize the cancer in its midst, because this is, unfortunately, the result of a policy, a deliberate policy, carried out over a period of years – one would argue, a couple of decades -- of actually encouraging jihadist militancy as an instrument of policy.

Asked if elements in Pakistani military were responsible for the recent attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul, Tharoor reiterated that India was not interested in finger-pointing, but, at the same time there should be conclusive investigation into it.

"We're interested in moving to a state of affairs where this kind of thing doesn't keep happening," Tharoor continued.

"I don't believe that today's government in Pakistan thinks that was a good idea. But it has to act to end the bitter legacy that that idea has spawned," he observed.

Counselling Pakistan not to be fearful of deepening Indo-US relations, Tharoor said New Delhi in its march to rapid economic expansion wants Pakistan to benefit too.

"We believe that, if India becomes a successful, prosperous economy, free of the fear of terrorist attack, Pakistan will benefit very much from being next door to it," he said.

Tharoor said in mid-90s India offered most-favoured nation trading status unilaterally to Pakistan, but it has still not been reciprocated.

"It has been extended. Today, Pakistan can export things to India on that basis. The problem at the moment, frankly, is that it's been Pakistan throughout that has turned down these overtures," the minister said.

"So, I would say to Pakistan, instead of fearing that you will be isolated, come in and join the party," Tharoor advised Islamabad.

To this day, Pakistani musicians, writers, and so on, flourish in India, he noted adding that the Indian market and the Indian audience are important to them.

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