Gentlemen, Some time towards the end of next month, the long-awaited meeting between the Indian Prime Minister and us will take place in Delhi. This is not officially confirmed but you can take it that most probably the meeting will take place towards the end of next month. Now, this means that we have to prepare ourselves for important discussions, vital to the country’s future.
It is not necessary for me to tell our people that under no circumstances vital national interest will be compromised. I do not see why the nation should compromise its vital national interests even after a decisive war which it has lost. However, it is inevitable that in the course of our negotiations we shall try to arrive at a permanent settlement, and find enduring peace in the subcontinent. We will have to examine each other’s point of view and see what adjustments are necessary, what accommodations are necessary to bring about durable peace is the subcontinent. Now, this is no easy task. I will never try to think that I am capable alone of finding solutions. I am in consultation with my people all the time. I am in contact with them as much as possible. I have also held some discussions with leaders belonging to other parties. In the coming days, I will hold more consultations, more discussions with people of various schools of thought. I would like to know their point of view on all these vital questions. But, it is not only at my level that I should hold these discussions. I would like to see more views expressed by the press, by students, by leaders of other shades and opinions. In this connection, I do not see why the Provincial Governments should not consider holding some seminars amongst students and other people, have discussions on the various issues including relations with East Pakistan which they now insist on calling Bangladesh. What should be our approach, what are the problems that have arisen out of this conflict and separation. How should these problems be resolved. In other words, a time has come really for the whole nation to participate in the process of formulating the outlook for the whole people to decide whether we should pursue consultation even after the events of last year, what would be the exact impact on the nation as a whole, on its economy and what should be our attitude towards India. Are we to live in the same subcontinent on the basis of modus vivendi or as implacable enemies, what would e the results of one or the other. So, I would be guided by the national approach and the national consensus on these questions. I have no personal stake in these matters. I have only the national stake in these matters and I believe that the nation speaks the truth; people speak the truth; common man speaks the truth. We have restored democracy. One of the virtues of democracy is not merely to hod assembly sessions or to give licence for abuse. The purpose of democracy is also to bring about the flowering of society and to know the inner thoughts of the people without fear. How they feel constructively, what their approach is towards various problems. So, the participation of people in these vital issues concerning the future destiny of the nation is of supreme importance. So let the people speak. Let them articulate the outlook and I know it would be done constructively and that thoughts will be generated, many ideas will flow which will contribute towards a clear thinking on these vital problems.
And I thought that before I leave on my mission to Muslim countries, I should tell you that we are in the process of giving deep thought to substantive and procedural questions affecting our future relations in the subcontinent with India. We might not always make correct evaluations but we attempt to make correct evaluations. In other words, we believe in trying to do the best job and not something superficial or ad hoc. We believe in going deep into problems, going to the heart of the matter. And now I feel that in order to go to the heart of the matter I require your assistance and cooperation to throw out these thoughts on the future in your editorials, discussions, articles, in talks on the radio and television, on the university campus and in various others forums. There are so many forums for intellectuals and for thinkers. In the old days, there used to be thinkers’ forums, which did not think but I hope that some of our forums do think. So, I want the thinkers to give us their thoughts. We want food for thoughts and we will do our thinking at all levels. Whatever they are worth,, we want ideas from all sides constructively, in a spirit of dignity and in national spirit.
As far as my visit abroad is concerned, you know the background. This has been adequately explained but generally the emphasis is on the fact that on the last occasion I went out to thank the Muslim countries. I will again thank them. That is only a part of the admission of the responsibility. Naturally, we have to thank them. We can thank them by sending telegrams also. This is not the only purpose. I am going there to hold discussions with them again because they belong to our part of the world. We have common destiny. They have, in some form or the other, similar problems and it is also thought consultations that we have to give them our point of view. If we do not give them our point of view, they will keep getting the other point of view i.e. “Bangladesh is a reality—it is a Muslim country bigger than Pakistan and that you must accept that this is a reality.” Therefore, we have to go out and hold discussions with them, because they have so far supported our position and our outlook on this problem. It is necessary that we tell them why we believe that our position is correct. Since they have supported us it is our duty not only to thank them but also to hold discussions and consultations with them and to get their point of view on these matters so that before we go to India we have our own peoples’ point of view clearly before us and we have the point of view of those Muslim nations also who share a common destiny with us and who have stood up with us to this day and taken position in conformity with our own position. We must have, in other words, as clear a picture as possible of our own outlook as well as the outlook of our friends, associates, neighbours etc. in this connection, as you know, I have already been to the Soviet Union and I have been to China. So, the points of view of these two great powers are also known to us. The point of view of the United States is also known to us as well as that of all the important countries of the East and West but the intimacy and the depth of discussions that have taken place between us and the Muslim countries naturally fall in a different category as such, it means real intensive discussions with them now, this is the position and when I return I hope that result will be a movement in our country in the direction which I am suggesting.
Please give your views frankly. We want frank views on the subject. Won’t say realistic or emotional because I don’t draw distinctions. A patriot gives his own feelings and his own thoughts and, on that basis, we look forward to your contributions.
Now, any questions would you like to ask?
Question: Sir, it will be probably 28th June when you will be going to Delhi?
President: Most probably. I said I have been away from Rawalpindi since 13th or 14th. So, I have not seen all the papers. I believe it will be some time then.
Question: Sir, recently the Soviet Ambassador called on you while you were in Quetta. Can you tell us something about that?
President: We had some discussion on the recent state of affairs in the subcontinent and then also we had some discussion on Vietnam, but primarily on the state of affairs here in our subcontinent.
Question: Whatever statements have been made by Indian leaders of and on during the last month or so, the impression here remains that preconditions are still being imposed. What is your impression, Sir?
President: The answer is ‘yes’ and ‘no’, because even if you say there are no preconditions you have them in your mind. Is it not so? So, it is not that they are coming blank to the conference table. They have a certain point of view, they have certain objectives and they will try to achieve them. We have also something in our mind and that is why I am asking for this kind of national outlook on the probe. We have also some, shape of things in our mind. We will hear them and I am confident in my mind that they will hear us to the extent where our basic interests are not compromised and we do not want their basic interests to be compromised.
Question: Kashmir will be one of the issues to be discussed there probably.
President: We have held discussions with them. Even yesterday I met one of them. I will hold discussions with them again but to take some-one is like bringing some one from Kashmir, and, that is a kind of provocation Isn’t it?
Question: are you going to decide your attitude towards different problems of the subcontinent prior to your forthcoming visit to the African and Middle Easter countries, Sir?
President: We will not take our friends by surprise. All aspects would be considered and I can assure you that our Government is not the kind of Government that will take friends by surprise. They will be kept informed by us at every stage.
Question: Sir, is there any chance of having greater alliance with Muslim Countries?
President: I think on this point our foreign policy has been very clearly spelt out. On a number of occasions I have expressed my views on alliances. I would respectfully request you not to put questions to me which have become part of our fundamental foreign policy.
Question: It is about five months now that you set up Hamoodur Rahman Commission, and, initially it was to report within three month?
President: I have not to write the report. The Commission has to write the report. They asked for extension. It would not have been fair if we had not granted them the extension because they must not get the impression that they do not have the fullest co-operation of Government. If they need more time we are prepared to give them more time. It think the time limit is to expire in May, i.e. this month, but if they ask for more time we are prepared to give more time.
Question: As far as discussions with other political parties and leaders are concerned, are you going to hold bilateral discussions or you intend to hold some sort of….?
President: No, I will keep it flexible. You see it is much better if we meet amongst ourselves. On a conference table attitudes become more rigid. I will keep it informal. Sometime I will meet someone by myself. If he wants to bring one or two other’s point of view comes out more clearly. On a conference table there is one eye to the papers outside, another eye to the party itself and the third one to various other commitments. So, it is better to keep such talks informal.
I have had a brief meeting with one of the political leaders in Lahore and I might meet him again and meet another again. This is what I intend doing but I cannot meet people whose president says one thing and shoes general secretary says another thing.
Question: Will this round of meetings start hen you return from Middle East, Sir?
President: Yes. We have a party, we have colleagues. I have told some of them that they should start having discussions and meetings.
Question: On your behalf?
President: Yes. Because our party’s position is well known. We have the advantage that our point of view within our party is appreciated and specially by those who fall within the inner circle, and, my colleagues some of them know my point of view extremely well. Naturally, everyone has to do his work on division of labour. Therefore, I will be in touch with some of them.
Question: Would you like to name one of them, Sir?
President: No, no All of them.
Question: As far leading the discussion, is it necessary that being the majority party and the ruling party, you are to initiate the political discussion? Have you formulated some sort of initiative programme? What is your point of view about the summit conference, Sir?
President: I have a strong point of view but my point of view would be crystallized by the national outlook, by the general outlook and the general consensus because I am a preacher of people and I don’t believe in the fact that people are wrong. People are right and, therefore, the final shape of our outlook will depend on what the people would dictate.
Question: Sir, if, for instance, a seminar is held and your party leader goes there and he puts forward your point of view.
President: I would not put my people in that position, because that would not to correct. Seminars are for students, there is no question of party being represented lawyers and journalists can be called to the seminars.
Question: But, don’t you think, Sir, that there would be some sort of chase?
President: I do not consider that because, you see, I have a majority party. There may be some people who may be of one view and some of the other view. I do not think that there would be any difficulty and the advantage of consultation on such a big thing would far out weight the fears that are being expressed.
Question: Sir, you said that some foreign power was involved in the Quetta incident.
President: I did not use the word foreign power. I spoke of some activities not confined to the boundaries of Pakistan. These activities could be of any nature. After all, I did not spell out any foreign power. You know there are Radio broadcasts and various other things. As newsmen, you know the broadcasts come from various places. I am not mentioning any particular country. We want to have the best of relations with all foreign countries, with all neighboring countries. We have the greatest respect for them. We respect their territorial integrity. We wish their people success we do not want to create misunderstandings. I do not see the necessity of anyone trying to ask a misleading question because misleading question would create differences between us and our northern neighbours. When we are anxious to improve our relations with our southern neighbours. I do not want to enter into provocative diplomacy.
Question: Sir, recently, there have been a number of cases involving labour unrest. What is you view about it?
President: Well, Ii do not like that. My party derives its strength from the working classes and it is our bounden duty to serve the interests of the working classes. At the same time it is essential for the progress of our people as a whole that there should be peace, industrial peace, industrial peace, and production should increase. The wheels of industry must start moving again. The nation should start moving. We should start building up the country. We should have more houses, more schools, more factories, give greater employment to our people, give more attention on the workers problems. But it is also necessary that the people should work hard as a whole. I do not think I shall be breaking my election manifesto by saying that the perfect people should work hard. Right through the elections I kept saying that the welfare of the people depended not only on taking certain decisions or implementing those decision, but on hard work which was so essential for our progress and for our welfare.
Question: Sir, a controversy has arisen on the Drugs (generic names) ordinance, 1972, which involves about 55 crores of rupees worth of investment by the existing branded drug manufacturers. Sir, are you going to do something about it?
President: The matter has become more generic than generic names. We have to take some decision on it. I have appointed A SMALL Cabinet Committee to go into the question. Since I was out or Rawalpindi for some time I do not know that has been decided. As soon as I get back, I shall find out.
Question: Sir, you have announced various reforms. What about Administrative reforms?
President: We are working on that. We could not keep to this time limit. You know that before convening the National Assembly, we wanted some quick reforms so that they did not get bottled up. but Administrative reforms we could not. There are some Law reforms to come. We are working on that.
Question: Sir, do you think that the recent statements by the Foreign Office for the Afghan Government with regard to Pukhtoonistan is a, Volte face or a reiteration of their old stand which they have never given up?
President: I do not want to discuss this question in public. I would prefer to confine it, for the time being, to bilateral discussions.
Question: Is there any possibility of convening the National Assembly before its scheduled date?
President: There is no need of it. The national Assembly is meeting on the 4th of August. I doubt if very many decision would be taken by the 4th of August in the first place and, in the second place, if decisions are taken they would be worth debating in the National Assembly. How can the National Assembly be by passed? It is not possible. When I want consultations at the lowest level, at the village leave, I would not like my party to by pass the National Assembly. Secondly, National Assembly compromise, as you saw in the last sessions, an overwhelming majority of the people’s Party. Before the last session was held, all kinds of kite flying was done and every night you dreamt of one more member of the PPP defecting to the other side. You know our party’s position, but other leaders and other parties are being consulted. This was not done by previous Governments. We are going to hold consultations with them. We have got in our Government a member of another party, Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan. Already, Mr. Daultana is going as Ambassador to London. Then we have two provinces in which there is coalition between the NAP and the JUI. That leaves PDP and Jamaat-e-Islami, and from that point of view we have had discussion with PDP.
Question: Are any more people going out for the same mission as Mr. Daultana?
President: Any talented person, any one who wants to serve the cause of the country and is inspired by the ideals of the Pakistan People’s Party is welcome to be considered for participation.
Question: Sir, your Law Minister recently old us that fundamental rights would be restored much sooner than the people expected?
President: It is simply not possible, because you know, and, you must appreciate the fact that there has been a war. There is an emergency. There is an emergency even in India. It is not possible to run the Government in this fashion when you are facing such a crucial test. When we had no emergency, when we had no crisis, there was Martial law for 13 years. But when Pakistan reached the height of its crisis, it was not possible to overcome it without the requisite machinery and the tools. If you want the whole thing to blow up on everyone’s face, then let us do it.
Question: Sir, the NAP Chief Khan Abdul Wali Khan has sought clarification on three points….
President: It was a gesture of our goodwill to make this offer. It was not the right of these parties to get representation in the cabinet under parliamentary Democracy. We made the offer in super national interest as a friendly gesture to show that we want co operation, and that we want to bring about better relations. But it is not their right, because we are the majority, if it is going to be interpreted as a right, then I am afraid it would not work. You ask for clarification and you ask for conditions when you want to assert your right. If it is my right, I am going to be given my full right, but when it is not a right, then you cannot impose conditions and seek clarification.