‘India, Pakistan must show more maturity in bilateral relations’

New Delhi, March 28 (IANS) Leading former diplomats and experts on Monday called on governments of both India and Pakistan to show more maturity in handling bilateral relations.

“We are 69-year-old countries. We are grownups and why don’t we take responsibility for ourselves? There is no point blaming the rest of the world for anything wrong happening in India- Pakistan relations or the condition we are in,” former national security advisor and foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon said in a discussion on India-Pakistan relations here.

The discussion was organised by India International Centre at the re-release of book “State of Denial” on Pakistan by the late B.G. Verghese.

“There are sensible people on both sides of the line who, I think, understand the conditions better. Whether we are able to convince the world powers, say the western countries is a secondary issue for me I believe we can take care of ourselves,” Menon added.

Senior journalist Prem Shankar Jha said: “If you wish to develop, you have to reach peace with your neighbours and for that you have to reach out with hand of friendship as (then prime minister Atal Bihari) Vajpayee ji did.”

He also suggested that India should have conducted the plebiscite in Kashmir as mentioned in the UN Security Council resolution.

“If a plebiscite has not taken place, Pakistan is squarely responsible for it. When Pakistan had refused to conduct a plebiscite on their part of Kashmir, why didn’t (then prime minister Jawaharlal) Nehru go ahead and hold a plebiscite in Indian Kashmir? That plebiscite would have gone 100 percent in our favour,” he claimed.

“As late as April 2004, a European agency had conducted a secret poll in our Kashmir and results were 61 percent people polled saying they want to stay with India. Only six percent said they would like to go to Pakistan. 33 percent said they were on neither side. If that poll was true after 14-15 years of death, destruction and alienation of the place you can imagine the result of the plebiscite if it had happened,” he added.

Former union minister Shashi Tharoor described Verghese’s book as the most explicit description of India-Pakistan relations.

“His vision was extensive as he had seen the creation of Pakistan and the two countries growing together. He had suggested measures which go beyond geo-political solutions,” Tharoor said but did not express his personal or Congress’ views on the issue.

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