Says 26/11, LoC incidents show gap between Islamabad’s official statements and military action

Queering the pitch at an India Pak Young Entrepreneurs Bilateral meeting on Tuesday, Union Minister of State for Human Resources Development Shashi Tharoor in a recorded address has said that the Mumbai attacks five years ago and the recent Line of Control (LoC) incidents have shown a gap between Pakistan’s official statements and military action, and the civilian government, even if sincere, is not entirely in control of the security apparatus.

His address to a group of 22 Indian entrepreneurs visiting Pakistan and young business people from here was not played out in its entirety due to its political content. The organiser of the event, Shaban Khalid, president of the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry and head of the Young Entrepreneurs Forum, regretted that it was a non-political platform that was used to make a political speech. Later Dr. Rahul Mirchandani, founder president of the Commonwealth Asia Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs (CAAYE) who was part of the Indian delegation, said the group was not representing the government and was here to build bridges. “We believe we can make a difference and we are committed to that,” he added, calling for support from the audience which endorsed it totally.

The meeting was part of a young entrepreneurs’ mission between India and Pakistan and Indians from 15 cities are here on a four-day visit to world-class institution in Lahore and Islamabad and engage in bilateral dialogue.

‘Sharing ideas’

In his address, Mr. Tharoor said groups driven by enthusiastic and enterprising people of both countries seize opportunities such as these to come and share ideas, disseminate information and forge partnerships despite the ongoing tensions at the LoC. However, Mr. Tharoor pointed out that firing across the LoC , which has gone up in recent weeks cannot certainly be attributed to non-state actors. While there is progress in the ongoing investigation and trial of seven Pakistanis accused in the involvement of the Mumbai terror attacks, the case has moved at a glacial pace. Pakistan must show tangible movement in bringing all those responsible for Mumbai attacks, including those on trial to justice quickly, he demanded.

Continued terrorism from Pakistan remains was a core concern, he said adding it was critical for India and also for the security of the region if Pakistan chose determined action to dismantle all terrorists networks, organisations and infrastructure within its territory. He called on Pakistan to uphold the sanctity of the LoC which was the most important confidence-building measure between two countries. This included ending the repeated transgressions on the LoC by the Pakistani Army which had adverse consequences for bilateral ties.

“We are committed to peace”

Mr. Tharoor also said that “we do not accept the arguments that transgression across the LoC, or incidents of unprovoked firing are the handiwork of non-state actors. Everything along the LoC is firmly under the control of the Army on both sides. Yet, India’s government remains committed to peace. “

Not talking to Pakistan was not much of a policy, he added. He said it would help the Pakistan government facing home-grown terrorism, even as they exported terror to its neighbours, to show willingness to join the quest for peace. “The moment the Pakistani establishment genuinely discards terrorism as an instrument of state policy, prospective peace will dawn on the subcontinent,” he said. “Unfortunately, Pakistan is pursuing the flawed policy of selectively targeting some terrorists and extremists groups and ignoring or actively supporting others.”

Mr. Tharoor called for sincere acceptance by the Pakistani military establishment that those who attacked the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai were as just as much as their enemy as those who bombed the Marriot in Islamabad.

6-fold increase in trade

He said that the last decade had witnessed a six fold increase in bilateral trade from $370 million per year to $2.3 billion.