India completely changed its Myanmar policy: Tharoor

New Delhi, March 28 (IANS) Former union minister Shashi Tharoor on Monday said India had completely changed its policy towards Myanmar as “it could not afford to surrender its influence” on a neighbour to China and Pakistan.

“India took a 180-degree turn. (Then) President (Pervez) Musharraf going to Yangon and a week later, our Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh (was) following suit and changing the policy approach. And all (Indian) governments, thereafter, decided that they cannot afford to be estranged with the next door neighbour,” Tharoor said at a re-release of “State of Denial” by the late B.G. Verghese.

“India felt it cannot afford to allow its neighbour to foment trouble on its borders in the northeast. It could not afford to surrender its influence to China and Pakistan… It could not afford to surrender the economic benefits of natural gas and the democracy was not going to come by opposing military junta,” he added.

However, he also said that when 1990 elections were set aside in Myanmar, India was the staunchest supporters of the democracy there.

“India was not only rhetorically on the side of democracy and freedom in Burma, something which many other countries were at a safer distance… it gave asylum to fleeing students, allowed them to offer their resistance movement and offered financial help and supported a pro-democracy newspaper and a radio station,” he said.

However, Tharoor refrained from expressing his personal or party’s views on India-Pakistan relations, the primary topic of discussion at the event.

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