Pakistan must fight alongside India against terrorism: Tharoor

“We must not forget of what had happened in Mumbai but spreading hatred against a certain community will only make the [26/11] attackers triumphant,” Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor said here on Sunday.

He was participating in a peace rally, the ‘Global Peace Initiative’, jointly organised by NGO One Life Alliance (OLA) and the Welingkar Institute of Management Development & Research, at the Gateway of India on the eve of the fourth anniversary of the terror attacks in Mumbai. Students across the city, along with the Minister, marched in the rally pledging to fight against ‘hatred’ with ‘love.’

The Minister said Pakistan must fight alongside India against terrorism. “The Islamist extremism nurtured by the Pakistan government has begun to haunt them. They should be on the same side as we are [to fight terrorism] as it is an existential crisis for them as well.”

OLA president Kia Scherr, who lost her daughter and husband in the 26/11 attacks, expressed her desire to extend her work in other parts of the world as well. “It should not be a one-day event where we discuss peace and a terrorism-free world. It’s a process and should involve children through their education system.”

Ms. Scherr said: “We need to increase the ‘peace index’ in this world. Now, since Kasab [the Pakistani gunman] has been hanged, let’s use the energy spent on criticising him on spreading peace.”

Earlier, students from different colleges took out three peace rallies, all culminating at the Gateway of India. “I do feel that Kasab’s hanging has come a bit late, but the judicial process we followed proves that we are a mature democracy,” said Girirajan Mani, an MBA student.

A 500-plus crowd — including students and dignitaries — gathered at the venue took the peace oath, in the presence of gurus from different religions. Singer Ragheshwari Loomba sang songs promoting world peace with a group of 12 students from the Happy Home School for the Blinds. The programme, hosted by actors Vivek Oberoi and Sowmya Tondon, also saw Additional Commissioner of Police, South Mumbai, Krishna Prakash, coming out and reciting selected lines of poems from Rabindranath Tagore’s Geetanjali.

The Shillong Chamber Choir (SCC), from the northeast, paid a musical tribute to the victims of 26/11.

“We are from a region which has consistently faced terror threats, maybe in a different form. But we live in a turbulent environment and we feel the pain of the victims and the Mumbaikars,” said Neil Nongkynrih, SCC conductor.

The SCC is the season-2 winner of India’s Got Talent and gold medallist at the World Choir Games in Shaoxing, China.

Recounting their experience of the terror attack in Leopold Café at Colaba, a couple from the United Kingdom said: “I guess we were at the wrong place at the wrong time then. We hid ourselves under the tables when we heard gunshots and that was the end of our trip to India,” said Di Murphy, 62. “In 2010, when we came here again, we wanted to complete our trip,” said her husband Mick.

Romain Barbier, a French national working in India, felt that there was nothing to fear in Mumbai.

“I don’t feel scared in Mumbai. The attack can happen anywhere. I feel sad for those who died in the attacks and hope that it never happens again,” he said.

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