`Confrontation with Pak threat to Indian secularism`
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Last Updated: Thursday, March 29, 2012, 18:42
New Delhi: Claiming that confrontation with Pakistan is the "single most serious threat" to secularism in India, Rajya Sabha MP Mani Shankar Aiyar on Thursday called for having strategic relations with Islamabad.

"We have strategic partnership with everyone who doesn't matter, and none with the one country which really does matter in terms of the strategic partnership and that is Pakistan," Aiyar said at an event here.

Speaking at a 3-day conference "India-Pakistan: Civil Society Review of Strategic Relations" organised by 'Centre for Policy Analysis', Aiyar said, "It (absence of strategic partnership with Pakistan) renders us extremely vulnerable."

"Secularism is the bonding adhesive of our nation. But there is a section of Indian society amounting to about 15-16 per cent which does not feel emotionally fully integrated into our country because of the semblance that many Indians make between being a Muslim and being a Pakistani," he said.

"Many Indian Muslims suffer from fear whenever they visit Pakistan, thinking they would be treated with suspicion back home," he said.

Making a light-hearted comment on the controversy surrounding the Army Chief's letter to Prime Minister regarding shortage of ammunition, Aiyar said, "Our newspapers today welcomed our Pakistani guests by informing them that we are unable to defend ourselves against a Pakistani fly, let alone the Pakistani defence forces."

"But," he said, "the fact of the matter is that we need to go beyond the considerations of whether we have, how we call it 'armour-piercing' weapons or not to see whether we could fundamentally restructure the relationship between the two countries."

On the situation in Pakistan, he said, "There is greater promise of democracy in Pakistan today than ever. And there is a desire in Pakistan to question the necessity of a confrontational attitude towards India, which is of course a rationale for not only having an army to defend but also having an army to rule Pakistan."

Cautioning Pakistan that incidents like 26/11 could derail the peace process, he said, "If similar incidents happen, it would be impossible for any democratically elected government in India to persist on the path of peace."

Calling for a common mechanism to fight terror, he said, "Terrorism is a menace not only for India, but for Pakistan as well, so there should be a common, cooperative relationship among the anti-terrorism organisations in both the nations to work to eliminate the threat."

He added that "the attempt by us to ask Pakistan to stand in the dock and confess that it is a terrorist state is one which is never going to work, and has never worked."


First Published: Thursday, March 29, 2012, 18:41

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