The Pakistan Studies Programme, part of the Academy of International Studies, recently conducted an India-China dialogue with visiting Chinese delegates from Sichuan University, China. The programme titled “Second India-China Dialogue on Evolving Security Environment in the AF-PAK region” was conducted at the Dayar-I-Mir-Taqi-Mir Building on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012.
The two-day programme ended with a valedictory address by Member of Parliament Dr. Shashi Tharoor (Cong.).
About the Speaker
Tharoor is currently a Lok Sabha member representing the district of Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. Prior to 2007, he was the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and held many other important offices in his three-decade long tenure at the UN. In 2009, he entered politics as a member of the Indian National Congress and was appointed as a Minister of State for External Affairs after the party had won the 2009 general election.
In reference to the Indo-Chinese relations, Dr. Tharoor said that he was not happy with the way things were between India and China. Being two of the largest countries in the region, he said, that neither of the two countries know anything about each other and “we don’t have any journalists going to China and vice-versa to help understand each other’s country.”
Speaking on the Indo-Afghan relations, Dr. Tharoor said that there has been a huge development in India-Afghanistan bilateral relations. India is heavily investing in the development of Afghanistan but rather than investing in defence, it is mostly an infrastructural investment citing the example of the electrical infrastructure now available in Kabul which has been developed by India, he said.
On the matter of defence projects he said, though there is yet no talk of defence related projects, he however mentioned that there is a possibility for India to initiate a training project for the Afghan police in the near future. But instead of the Indian personnel going over to Afghanistan, it’ll be the Afghan police coming to India for training. This is obviously due to security reasons as India has had many civilian casualties of Indian contractors in Afghanistan over the past few years. He also cited the hijacking of an Indian Airlines flight in 1999 by Pakistani terrorists that was forced to land in Afghanistan, as a reason for India being cautious.
He stated the reason for India to be taking such a keen interest in the development of Afghanistan was because “India needs to see Afghanistan at peace for our own peace,” as the instability in Afghanistan has given Pakistani terrorists a safe-haven to conduct operations against India.
Speaking of India’s relations with Pakistan, Tharoor said that Pakistan has used the “death by a thousand cuts” policy against India. He blamed the ISI for supporting the Pakistani terrorists which carried out such atrocities as the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai and several other attacks on the nation. He continued on to say that any proposal for peace with Pakistan by India has only been met with greater hostility. Speaking about the Pakistani Army and the threat it poses, he said “as China and India are states that have an army, the Pakistani Army has a state.” He said, that “the Pakistani army talks loudly about the ‘Indian threat,’ but India does not pose a threat because Pakistan does not possess anything that India wants.” Though he called for peace with Pakistan, he said that “we need a tough minded, eyes wide open peace with Pakistan.”
Addressing the Chinese delegates present at the programme, Tharoor said that China needs to keep an eye on Afghanistan as the Taliban and intelligence agencies like ISI will cause trouble in the Muslim populated Western China thus creating problems for the Chinese government.
The programme came to an end with the Chinese delegates thanking Jamia for inviting them for the dialogue, and then later presented small cultural tokens as gifts to Tharoor.