Tharoor favours India’s diplomatic response to Pakistan

January 24th, 2009 - 11:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Jaipur, Jan 24 (IANS) Shashi Tharoor, former UN undersecretary-general and noted commentator, favours a diplomatic response, rather than a military one, to Pakistan in the aftermath of the Nov 26 Mumbai terrorist attacks.”(Pakistan’s) non-cooperation must be met with diplomatic response. The last thing we want to do now is to oblige the terrorists and give them what they want. The best way to deal with Pakistan will be to mount diplomatic pressure,” Tharoor said here Saturday.

“The civilian governments of India and Pakistan have to work together and though progress in bilateral ties has been hamstrung by the military in Pakistan, I have been told that real cooperation is beginning,” Tharoor said at the Jaipur Literature Festival.

He said the media hysteria in the country urging war against Pakistan to avenge the terror strikes was something that had to be avoided because the two countries armed with nuclear weapons could not risk a conflict that would spiral out of control and fritter away the little space left in Pakistan for cooperation with India.

He also ruled out UN intervention in the impasse between two nations over the Mumbai attacks.

“The UN cannot intervene in the conflict. India has made it clear that it was a bilateral issue between the two countries and would not allow any third-party interference,” Tharoor said.

The diplomat-author, who has eight books to his credit, was addressing a session titled “Elephants and Cellphones” that touched upon a variety of topics including politics, international relations, dress code for women and his books.

The session took off from his new book, “The Elephant, The Tiger and The Cell Phone”, which evokes India’s changing moods with an allegory that imagines the country as an elephant that turns itself into a tiger, drawing on a metaphor for the Southeast Asian economies.

Tharoor said there was nothing wrong with the country’s foreign policy in tackling the situation in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks. “India fared very well on its foreign policy front by resisting the clamour from hotheads within the country (for war) when the elections were looming round the corner,” he said.

Analysing the state of the Muslims in the country, Tharoor said: “They are well represented in Bollywood, literature and entertainment. But they are not well-represented in government services and in the police force.

He said the India that he spoke of was greater than the sum of all its contradictions.

“The country where a Catholic of Italian descent made room for a Sikh as prime minister, who was sworn in by a Muslim president - that’s the India I speak of,” Tharoor said.

But his views on China are marked by singular clarity. “Economically, China has overtaken the US to become India’s largest trading partner. Infosys has hired nine Chinese professionals to work at their Bangalore campus, but geopolitically, we have to be wary. China would not like India to become a counterweight and would continue to create trouble in the northeast,” he said.

Tharoor, however, left the crowd guessing about his political ambitions. Recent media reports speculate he could contest the next Lok Sabha elections from his home state Kerala on a Congress ticket.

“The media has been declaring that I will fight the elections as well. I am neither running for it and nor running away from it.”

Earlier, in an informal chat with mediapersons on the lawns of the Diggy Palace, Tharoor said the United Nations Security Council was still governed by the geopolitics of 1945.

“All the members agree on the diagnosis, but disagree on the prescription. For an amendment to come into force, the UN would require 128 of the 192 member states to propose it and two-third of the world’s parliaments to ratify it. The council is still trying to find a solution and hammer out a formula to expand it to make room for more countries which matter,” he said.

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