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‘Civil-military imbalance impeding Indo-Pak ties’

The civil-military imbalance in Islamabad is a key factor impeding India-Pakistan relations, Shashi Tharoor said.



Islamabad: The civil-military imbalance in
Islamabad is a key factor impeding India-Pakistan relations
despite a large constituency for peace in both countries,
former Indian minister Shashi Tharoor said here on Thursday.

The dominant role played by the security establishment in
shaping Pakistan’s foreign policy and the powerful military`s
long-standing links with jihadi groups are issues that will
have to be addressed to put the bilateral relationship on an
even keel, Tharoor said.

Speaking on the theme, "India and Pakistan: Cooperation
or conflict", at an event organised by the Jinnah Institute, a
leading think tank, Tharoor noted that elements in Pakistan
had for long sponsored terrorists and jihadis as part of a
policy meant to "bleed India" while compensating for the
asymmetry in conventional forces.

The Pakistan Army was one of the most "lavishly funded"
armies of the world and has a "stranglehold over policy" while
no elected civilian government had ever completed its term, he
pointed out.

It was not in Pakistan`s interests for the army to get a
"grossly disproportionate share" of the GDP and the budget,
said Tharoor, who arrived in Lahore on Tuesday on a four-day
Pakistan visit.

"The Army lays down the red lines that political leaders
dare not cross," he said. The Army also preserves the "myth of
an Indian threat", the former Minister of State for External
Affairs underlined.

This civil-military imbalance made people in India wonder
whether the government was doing the right thing by holding
talks with a civilian administration in Pakistan that neither
controls nor launches militants for terrorist attacks, he
said.

Each terror attack, he said, undermines the minority who
believe peace is possible.

People in India also questioned whether the Pakistan Army
would agree if a civilian dispensation decided that India is
not a threat, Tharoor remarked.

In this regard, he said peace overtures made by President
Asif Ali Zardari shortly after he came to power and the Army`s
negative reaction to them showed that the President "went
farther than the Army was willing to allow him to".

Pakistan`s policy of "strategic depth" in Afghanistan and
any efforts to wrest Kashmir from India too are not in
Islamabad’s interests, he said.

At the same time, Pakistan was suffering due to its
policy of financing and training jihadis for 20 years as the
terrorists were now targeting military establishments like the
army`s General Headquarters and a naval airbase in Karachi, he
said.

PTI

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