Question: Mr. President, what is your opinion had been the main causes for the disintegration of the Islamic Republic in its original structure and what are the lesson to be drawn from this tragic development?
President: Well, there are, suppose, many causes over the past 25 years but if you pinpoint them apart from the classic ones which were known before partition about the distance and all that, but in spite of the distance we remained together for 25 years, I thick basically the economic exploitation of East Pakistan was the primary factor and secondary, I think that lack of political participation and intuitions was the second factor. If we had evolved a constitution in the earlier years, when there was all the enthusiasm to work together, that would have brought about the participation, strengthened political parties in both wings of the country, strengthened the services: and with that, of course, as I said earlier, the first and the most important factor was the economic system. There was exploitation. My party repeatedly warned the successive governments about the internal colonial structure of the economy and we advocated social and economic reforms giving the east Pakistan much greater participation but I think there are other factors also, taking everything into account, these are the two most important factors in my opinion.
Question: then if one count put back clock of history for a year, would you repeat your boycott of the National Assembly under similar circumstances?
President: I would if I did boycott. I know the whole press outside Pakistan kept using that word and I kept denying that I was boycotting the assembly. I put forward two alternatives. One was to give us a little more time to arrive at a settlement outside the Assembly so that we could go into the assembly and frame a constitution in 120 days.
Question: this agreement on fundamentals?
President: yes, because you see the stipulation was that if the constitution is not framed in 120 days, the Assembly would stand dissolved and the points of view were on the one hand one extreme asking for confederation and on the other hand were people wanting some common federation. The reconcile those two conflicting opinions we wanted a little time and we said that if this time is not given to us then the stipulation of framing the constitution in 120 days should be withdrawn. We put forth two concrete alternatives. One, either we should be given time to come to a settlement or the period of 120 days should be withdrawn.
Question: so it wants a straightforward boycott, it was just a situation of another timing?
President: and that also we stipulated, that we wanted about two to three weeks more at the most. That means instead of the Assembly Session being held on the 3rd of March. And we tried to have another meeting with Mujibur Rahman. Tried to influence public opinion and tried to get to an agreement. Failing that, we said, we would go to the Assembly.
Question: Now regarding the new constitution, do you think that the Islamic Foundation of Pakistan excludes the possibility of a secular constitution though it were to probably encourage more socially progressive development?
President: No,. not at all. It don't think there is any incompatibility with the Islamic framework of Pakistan and the Islamic basis of Pakistan with a secular constitution.
Question: Is that to be combined?
President: Yes, of course, because Islam guarantees to the minorities their dues, their rights, and does not discriminate against other minorities, either religious of racial. So it is quite compatible to have secular constitution and stand by Islamic principles. Turkey has a secular constitution and in the have a secular constitution.
Question: And the necessity of preserving the unity of Pakistan, what does that mean – argument in favour or against a federalist structure of the state with a certain degree of autonomy?
President: No. I think the composition of our country is such that the federal form of constitution is unavoidable. We have no choice. This is the mistake that some people made in the past. They thought that they had a choice to impose a constitution on Pakistan. As you know, as you know as a German, that you don't really have a choice. You see the conditions and the constitution must reflect those conditions. It must mirror the realities of the existing conditions of the country. That is why we have objective conditions which require a federal constitution.
Question: And towards this end this could mean autonomy for the provinces?
President: IN federalism there is always autonomy for the provinces.
Question: But not as much as East Bengal was asking for?
President: That was a different situation altogether. East Pakistan had certain reasons. One was that we were one thousand miles away. The second was that they were the majority of the people. Third was that they earned a great deal for foreign exchange. There were many factors which called for a special arrangement.
Question: Which could not be compared with all this….?
President: Geographically contiguous. If we should have a six-point constitution in west Pakistan now, why should not India have a federation of that nature as well?
Question: You were emphasizing this very strongly in your speech the other day in Sanghar. Is this a certain process or clement of, say, regional chauvinism?
President: Well, we are passing through the transition and let us say that the backlash of the East Pakistan problem was felt here also. Certain elements picked up extreme form of autonomy bordering on secession, bordering on confederation. But if we go about it sensibly, I am sure that within a short period of time we will be able to make things settle down.
Question: And what scope of co-operation do you see really.
‘realistically' is the right word, between the three states in the subcontinent in future?
President: That depends on the other two as well. Still we have not recognized Bangladesh. Mr. Mujibur Rahman claims he will have nothing to do with us until we recognize Bangladesh but I think that's not logical and it does not make political sense that we should in the abstract just get up and say we recognize Bangladesh. We must meet; we must discuss. We would like to still hope and feel that we can convince them to have some links with us and he gave me this assurance before he left that he'll retain some links. I'd like to meet him and ask him what had made him change his mind and why we should not have some links. Especially the experience of the last three months should have shown him and convinced him that it's necessary to have some link. If after that I'm convinced that he would much rather have links with the devil rather than with us, I'll come back and tell my people that I've tried my best. I made every human effort to convince the leaders of East Pakistan. This is the answer they gave me. Perhaps for some time let us accept that position because if we don't, them who takes advantage? In the world, certainly the Pakistan sentiment doesn't grow and only the sentiment of those who want to break it totally and for all time and for all time. And in any event, those links have to be restored 10 years from now, 15 years from now; we must first go apart, recognize that reality and then again come together. So all right. The Germans had to take a decision. We took it. Others had to take the position. If paints us. It paints us very deeply. But then these are the forces in play in contemporary times and we must take note of the music of contemporary times.
Question: And your relationship with Delhi?
President: Delhi, yes, we'd like to have good relations with Delhi. We'd like to have very good relations. But relations in which Delhi also believes that we have a right to live and that we4 have our legitimate aspirations and we have our legitimate problems and if Delhi, in the spirit of objectivity and friendship, discusses these problems with us, we don't say suddenly, today, but 25 years have passed, a few more years can pass, we are prepared to bring down the tensions. We are prepared to normalize relations and embark on a new path. We want to try to succeed where our past generations failed. That would be good for Delhi; it would be good for Islamabad. certainly it would be good for the poor people of both countries. But if Delhi assumed an arrogant atmosphere and attitude and feels that it now has a right to impose anything of its own will and choice on Pakistan then I'm afraid with all the goodwill in the world we cant do anything about it.
Question: You have said several times that you want a new start. But how do your countrymen take it after what has happened, after what the Indians have done?
President: Yes, but my people do trust me. You see, it's a question of faith and they know that I would speak in their interest. And that's why I have this advantage, but I consider it a disadvantage also because one cant exploit it. I remember when Ayub Khan became president, of course in a different situation, foreigners said you can now do anything but why should you do anything? You should do the right thing whether you're in power, whether you're powerful or not. No matter how powerful you are, if you do the wrong thing that's not applying that power in the interests of the people. The other day a journalist told me, “But look what do Gaulle did. He took the brave decision of giving the right of self-determination to the people of Algeria”. I said yes, because it is the right thing. If he had done the wrong thing it would not have gone to his credit. If he had used that power to stop the right of self-determination, that would have been the wrong thing. So I don't use his position I have with the people to do something against their interests. I can certainly, within the limits of the need for give-and-take., make some adjustments and take a flexible attitude but I cant take apposition which will be basically against the peoples interest, and the people know that.
Question: And the people believe that?
President: And the people know that. And it is my convection, it is my faith. I've learned a little bit about the world and about the history of countries. If you use your power against the people, if you use your power to do the wrong thin, to break international principles, that cannot succeed over a period of time.
Question: Mr. President, you were emphasizing many times during the last couple of weeks that you are ready to make a new start. How do your countrymen take to that?
President: Well, I have come from the people; I'm a creature of the people. They have seen me. They have tested me, and I think they have confidence in my leadership and they know that I'm not going to do anything against their interests and I think that this is a great trust, it's a very sacred trust and I have no intention of abusing it.
Question: So you think, sir, there is a popular sentiment in favour of a reconciliation with India after all that has happened during the last war?
President: Well, I think there is a sentiment now to put down arms for some time, if not for all time, there is that feeling. I think that feeling must be there also. Don't forget that in 25 yers we've had three wars and in these three wars we haven't achieved our objectives, military objectives. If India thinks that she has achieved her military objectives by breaking Pakistan, she is mistaken, because India's problems are going to become much more after the fall of Dacca. They were much less before the fall of Dacca. And I use the word “fall” of Dacca deliberately, advisedly, because Dacca has to fallen only to Pakistan. Dacca has fallen even to its own people. Dacca has fallen to India and fallen against it. So I don't think we have won, neither they not we, but three wars in 25 years – wars fought by two of the poorest countries. So I think they also have the feeling, if I can sense it from this distance.
Question: Talking about the benefit of the people, you have conceived and you have conception of Islamic socialism. What does it mean? What are your aims?
President: Well, it's not a new concept really. I think all I can say is that we have tried to articulate it. The word ad been used before. It has been used a new phrase but we've tried to give it shape-articulated it. Now there are Christian Democrats in Europe, Christians Socialists at work who are Christians as well as Socialists and we can be Muslims as well as believe in the scientific method of economic development. We can accept Marxism not in its totality, that the state will wither away, because the Marxist state had not withered away, it has become strong. But is basically scientific approach. So we would like to develop our economic system basically on those lines. First, now a mixed economy moving gradually towards that end. So we take that aspect of Marxism confined to the economic sphere, reject the one related to disbelief in God and that the state withers away, and we adapt it to our conditions keeping our frame work of values, being proud of them, having full faith in the destiny of the Muslim people. That explains it basically.
Question: Yes, what about nationalization of industries? As I understood it, the nationalization doesn't mean change in propriety, it's just a change in management.
President: Well, we've taken over management and that is effective step and I think with the control of management we can lay down policy on production, on future advancement of those industries. We have taken control. The main thing abut it is that we have taken control, control over the means of production and distribution. But here we've taken over control and the control now lies wit the state. State alone will determine the policy of these industries. If we had gone about it the other way we would have had to pay fantastic compensation and we don't have the money to pay the compensation. You can ask me why then we have appropriated land without compensation. Land is a different matter. Different principles apply to land-owners.
Question: Did you gain enough land or will you gain enough land to distribute to the majority of the landless farmer?
President: Well, you see there will always be a pressure of the population on the land. That is simple mathematics. The land is simply not enough for the population of Pakistan. Even if we were to take away and forfeit all the lands there would still be pressure of the population on the land, number one, secondary, when Ayub Khan had a kind of reform 700,000 acres were taken over by the state then. Well, we are going to also see to it that as much of the peasantry as possible is accommodated on the lands. Our reforms are drastic. They are basic, and time will show that they are basic. That there are certain factors, fixed factors, like the population of the country and the area of the land available. We can't go outside that scope.
Question: Then your own family is very much affected by the land reforms. Isn't it?
Question: There are very many people in very many different ways and some say Mr. Bhutto comes from a feudal family, how can he be a socialist. Others say he is a democrat but at the same time a ruling autocrat and striving at a one-party state. You're described as a vibrant Indian hater, the others say Mr. Bhutto is a man of peace. Others worship you as a man of destiny who has to fulfill. Wants to fulfill, on historic mission. Others say, well, no, Mr. Bhutto is just thinking of Bhuttoism. Now could you, Mr. President.
President: I think the mixed picture comes out of the mixed situation, out of a confused situation. The situation is chaotic and so many reflections of that chaos come in the minds of people. In the first place, the simpler answer to the question is that I come from a feudal background, feudal family, how can I be a socialist? This is a bit uncharitable not only to me but is actually being derogatory of nations leadership. In Europe you accept people coming from the aristocracy as being influenced by their mind and by their convictions. You, in the back of your mind, refuse to believe that Asian leaders can be influenced by principles and convictions. That is why you give us a subjective route, that we must be having some greedy or some selfish motive to propound the principles. So this actually is a reflection of the European era, of concept of the Asian man in the colonial period. You have never questioned your own people who, in England, or in France, or in Germany, came from very big families but on principles they accepted the cause of socialism, never questioned it. But here because we are Asians and you have a concept of the Asian and that is a betrayal of that concept. I'm sorry if I'm using hard words but I must speak the truth because I have heard enough of this.
Question: Yes, you must have heard it many, many times?
President: Yes, and only from foreign correspondents and foreigners. So the time has come when I must speak out rather plainly on it. That's one thing. Secondly, the question is as I told you, I believe in objective politics as much as possible. That reality is an important factor, in that principles should be subordinated into a passing reality. The principles must remain in fact but within the scope of those principles there is considerable room in polities to step backwards and forwards, not to go against the current and tide. One must know when to move forward and when to go back, like in military work. And so with the principles remaining unchanged, intact, one has to be a little flexible, and if you're not flexible the people suffer. Theories don't matter finally. Theories are important because out of theories comes clarity, comes an approach, comes a sense of direction. Theories are the blueprints of the political architecture. You cannot ignore these tings but if sometimes the design has to be changed for some reason or for a catastrophe or something or thee other that has happened, then we must take cognizance of it. And basically our own people have said all sorts of things about me; I'm a Fascist; I'm not really a socialist; I don't believe in democracy. Basically, I believe in democracy.
Question: I hope you don't resent this, I ask these provocative questions in order to get provocative answers.
President: I've not been provoked in the past but I though the time has come when I must.
Question: One must get tired of this, I'm sure.
President: Basically, of course, I believe in democracy, I've got a commitment to the democratic approach. We have seen the benefits of democracy in other parts of the world and we have seen the utter failure of the non-democratic systems. They succeed very well for a period of time but then they collapse. But here again we're trying. As soon as I took over I told the nation that we'd be away with this Martial Law. We would be through with it. We'd have the Assembly and we'd put a constitution through the Assembly. We'd have the Assembly give us a constitution. That means we have the people giving us a constitution and we'll make every effort to make that constitution work. But the there are upheavals. There are explosions that lake place and Asia is going through a period of explosions and upheavals. Institutions, they come into being and before they take root they become obsolete because things are moving so fast. Events are moving fast. People are moving fast. My mind is moving fast. So we have problems and I will not say that all our problems will be overcome by having a constitution and by restoring democracy, but when things settle down generally then I think these institutions will begin to work and they can settle down generally only when we have overcome fundamentally the economic challenge.
Question: An American Colleague of mine once wrote that you admire most Genghis Khan and Napoleon, Adenauer, do Gaulle and Mao Tse-Tung. Now this is very widespread.
President: Widespread. He didn't ask me in that way. From the new York Times. He told me to mention people who have influenced my mind. I said when I was in school and college I used to keep pictures of heroes in my room and that stage is gone and I don't have that kind of hero-worship; I can't have that kind of hero-worship in individuals and personalities but certain people have interested me more than others and he asked me so I said well, in the military field, Genghis Khan was a genius. Not that bat's name, I mentioned Genghis. So also I said Napoleon, of Course, mentioned Adenauer in our times; Mao Tse-Tung in our times and de Gaulle. But it was in that sense.
Question: Yes, from Adenauer to Mao Tse-Tung. It's a very wide…..
President: Yes, but Adenauer's role is in Europe. Mao Tse-Tung remained in Asia but both were international figures.
Q uestion: One very conservative; one very revolutionary.
President: Well, conditions in Germany were different. The situation in Germany is different and they both made their nations. Mr. Brand is able to today is because there if Adenauer was not there. So what Mr. Brandt is able to do today is because there was an Adenauer.
Question: And I thank you very much, Mr. President. May I ask one question? Would you agree to a “Meet the Press” conference if we come here at any time of your convenience? “Meet the Press” is panel of three journalists from Germany but it's probable that we would interview you for half on hour and we would proceed to Dacca and interview Mujibur Rahman for half on hour. Do you think that could be done?
President: Yes. In principle I agree. Whenever you like. Give me some time.
Dr. Berg: Yes sure, I would keep in contact with you and if you agree in principle it is just a question of timing that you send us a cable and say in three days we can do it.
President: You'd have to synchronize it with him (Mujib) also.
Dr. Berg: Yes, sure.