Question: The last time I was up here, was in Karachi, in the beginning of October and met your unfortunate predecessor. One of the things, I was quite surprised to hear Yahya say to me was, do you know Willy Brandt? And I said well, by chance, I knew him “well”. So he said: “You know if you see him, give him the message that we would very much implore him to mediate, to try to mediate with this problem”. I said I will certainly pass on the message. We printed this story. I had a feeling then Yahya was really getting desperate, he didn’t know where to go. I came back with the impression he was lost.
President: He was a loss to us but that’s all gone now.
Question: One of my colleagues called Mrs. Gandhi the steel butterfly, and I think it’s quite an apt description. She is an extraordinary person. I knew her father quite well. I would like to sit underneath the table and listen to your conversation with her because it will be one of the most fascinating encounters. What do you expect from it?
President: It’s difficult to tell. I haven’t had a meeting with Mrs. Gandhi for a long time, not since she was Information Minister. My country was not dismembered and the situation was entirely different. Now it’s difficult to forecast. It depends so much on what is in their mind, what they want, what their objectives are.
Question: What are your ideas for the future policy, for the future position of your country? I mean, looking back, when India led the neutral group you had the alliance with the United States. Then you let that slip and you played quite a role in getting connections with Russia. I remember when you were a Minister doing on oil deal with the Russians for Pakistan. You have good relations with China. What do you envisage? First, would you agree with me that Asia or this part of Asia, is now dominated by the rivalry between Russia and China?
President: I wouldn’t say dominated by, but certainly it has come very much under its shadow. They have their differences, ideological differences and geographical disputes. All these factors certainly have their say in the situation.
Question: What is your idea of the future role Pakistan could play in this? There are a number of possibilities. You could be the power which curbs India. India, is perhaps on the way to becoming the superpower for Asia.
President: Going back to history, some countries who tried to do so were stopped after the Second World War and in Europe there was a great deal of tension and confrontation. Things didn’t crystallize in Europe as such and as far as Asia is concerned, THERE WAS NO Yalta for Asia. There were at the time some vague questions about the role of China and Chiang Kai-shek and giving India independence or having British guard position in the Indian Ocean. There is no blockade in Asia as you had a blockade in Europe-first political and when they tried to break it, you put the military blockade. Well in Asia there is no legal blockade, no international or political blockade, so the road is free and whoever then has the tenacity, the courage, the vision and takes the necessary gambles, makes progress.
On the one hand, the Soviet Union is pursuing a diplomacy of initiative and confidence in Asia, giving to the world what she has, she attaches are much importance to Asia as to Europe. On the other hand, historically speaking, the United States Administrations successively especially. The democratic administration, have always given the impression the they’re more interested in Europe and less interested in Asi. As far as Mr. George Ball was concerned, he couldn’t give a damn what happened in Asia. The United States has Asian interests too because she’s a Pacific power, but the center of gravity has been the east coast looking to Europe and not the west coast looking to Asia. So with the background plus the Vietnam exhaustion and the breaking of so many assumptions us Untied States policy, the mood of the United States, her policy vis-à-vis the Soviet approach, appears to an outsider as a more passive approach. As for China, she is building herself, past, china has exercised great restraint and all her efforts have been to break her isolation but with dignity. China is still building herself. Untied States is getting exhausted and the Soviet Union is neither getting exhausted nor feeling her role to be unnatural in Asia.
Question: That’s right. Now there are two possibilities. If you succeed, if Indira Gandhi and you were to succeed in doing what Germany and France have done after the last war, the would mean that South Asia, India and Pakistan, could find a base to work together. South Asia or the subcontinent could become a centre of power or a conglomeration of power in its own right.
President: These possibilities are clearly there but not in such precise shape, but the possibilities are there. In the first place, the Franco-German détente or collaboration came after a terrible war. Our war was bad but it was not as terrible as the war that took place in Europe and, of course, the European society was technologically more advanced and you could make effective use of your collaboration. As far as we are concerned, let us face it that we are both underdeveloped countries and we are both heavily dependent n foreign assistance. Our people have ot yet entered the modern world in the sense of its totality. So you cannot make an exact analogy between the Franco-German situation and the Indo-Pak situation. I would venture to welcome collaboration with India and our whole effort is going to be to have a new era between the two peoples on the basis of mutual self-respect. But we must also be objective and consider whether this collaboration is going to immediately render powerful economic results or whether it’s going to be a long process. The process is bound to be long because we’re under duress and, secondly, we can’t make a complete dash and reach the top straightaway because our relations have been so bad that we can only go slowly, slowly, step by ste. Our economies also would not be able to stand the stain of a sudden onrush of collaboration. All these factors have to be taken into account. If there is a possibility of Indo-Pakistan collaboration leading to some genuinely viable factor, it will not be a thing of tomorrow.
Question: If you find a solution the Indians would certainly, especially Indira as I know her, insist that Pakistan recognize a certain leadership of India. Did you see in a December issue f the Economist a picture of Indira as empress of India. That’s how she wants it?
President: Well, she can’t get it, because we want friendship, not leadership, we have resisted great power hegemonies. We have resisted the hegemony of the United States. We have resisted the hegemony of other powers. We threw the British out. Internally, our leadership has fought two terrible dictators. We have risked our life, we’ve gone though a struggle, and we are not going to take anyone’s leadership. Neither are we going to take the leadership of the United States, nor the Soviet Union, China and, above all, we are not going to take leadership of India. Friendship, in the fullest measures, yes.
Question: Aren’t you afraid the Chinese will make use of you against India?
President: That depends on us because if we are going to be stupid and allow ourselves to be used by foreign powers, then if it’s not China it might be somebody else. But our experience in dealing with China since 1950 when we recognized China is not this.
Question: Mr. President, one of the things which will come up at this conference and one of the subjects you will not be able to avoid, neither you nor Mrs. Gandhi, is the question of Kashmir. You said in an earlier interview that you insist on self-determination. In many ways you’re in the same position as Adenauer was after the war. Of course, you have less industrial resources than we had, but at least, one can compare. So what is your position on Kashmir.
President: If I am in the same position as Dr. Adenauer – and to strike a personal note here, he was extremely fond of me. I was a very young Foreign Minister and I had many meetings with him and he was very kind and he got to like me very much. I respected him deeply as well. But you see you have answered my question already. Willy Brandt is showing flexibility because Adenauer did not show it. So you have to have an Adenauer in Germany to produce a Willy Brandt. You would not have produced a Willy Brandt if you had not had an Adenauer. I am in the position in which Adenauer was. Well, some Willy Brandt abandoning principles. These adjustments become principles. There is a new climate in Europe there’s a new necessity. At one time the Russians when they got up in the morning, before they brushed their teeth, they called you revenchists, when they went to sleep they called you revanchists, when they put the light out they called you revanchists. The Russians are not calling you that any morel there’s collaboraton. Things are settling down and as a result of it, Mr. Brandt can now make a principle out of the use of Ostopolitik.
Question: Mr. President, to come to something else, the problem of un-employment in the Third World is becoming the problem of the 70’s. it is also one of your biggest headaches. How did you see your country dealing with it?
President: Yes, we have a serious economic problem on our hands and we have taken some steps. We’ll take more steps to rationalize our economy to have a proper functional relationship between the public and the private sections, to mobilize resources, to have a proper taxation system and to have public works programme for development and employment.
We have only recently devalued our currency massively. And these are measures to show that we’re trying to put our economy back on the rails. Of energetic manpower, more energetic that in other parts of our region – and hard – working people. They take to the machine easily and they don’t take long to get their hands used to machines, to tractors. They’re good innovators. For instance, in my country we are producing surgical instruments which are used even I think in your own country and they’re distributed all over the world. And it’s not easy to make things of that kind, things like surgical instruments. It’s very difficult. They make them in small houses. You think that it’s some little hut in which some poor people are living, who’s not even having anything to eat and you go inside and they’re making surgical instruments. We have hard-working people, we have resourceful people and they take quickly to new ideas. And then, of course, we have our resources, our cotton for instance. We are increasing our cotton production.
Question: Mr. President, I agree with you, but this is something which is very little known abroad. If you could only succeed in making this known to Europe. If you see how many factors, have gone over to a place like Singapore, not only Rollex, but also siemens. Number of German Factories are not producing the Rollex camera in Germany any longer but only in Singapore.
President: But it’s known in Britain because the Pakistanis living in Britain are the most hard-working people there.
Question: I know them I’ve lived for ten years in London.
President: They’re very hardworking.
Question: But this is very little known is Germany. I mentioned this in my first book under the chapter heading “The Passions of Asia”. It was the account of a trip down Pakistan.
President: That’s what we’ve been called for a long time but I think now you might change your chapter after the last war. It’s not the fault of our people, it’s the fault of the situation we got into with two or three made generals running amuck and they gave our whole country a bad name.
Question: yes, but I mean you country does o have as bad a name as we had after our war. We got out of it but what will, of course, make if difficult to persuade German businessmen, for instance, is their impression that things are still uncertain here. They’re liable to think well, how do we know how it is going further. Is this one of the reasons also why you travel so much abroad.
President: No I have traveled abroad because our point of view has to be put across. As I said, we have had such a bad image. That has to be corrected. That’s one reason. The second reason is that some countries stood by us with great fraternity and a sense of great solidarity and it’s not right that before I go to India I should not go and have consultations with them, thank them and exchange views with them. I did that in January. I went to some of the Muslim countries but the rest I could not visit. We felt and, I’m sure, they felt that. It is only right morally to go there and complete the mission.
Question: But generally you would be willing to receive foreign investment to put up factories.
President: Yes. We have for this reason not nationalized or put into the state enterprise any of the foreign companies that are in Pakistan.
Question: In the first place, especially around Karachi, corruption was really bad. In Latin America, it’s even worse. The whole of Asians learning, Africa is learning very fast. One sets the impression that you are trying to curb corruption.
Question: It is extremely difficult. So far you have tried to persuade the people to bring their money back from Switzerland or wherever they have it.
President: You’ve got to put a few of them in jail for a few days.
Question: Some people say you’re a socialist, I wouldn’t consider you one from what I’ve read about you. I would say you have an inclination towards the social democrats you’re standing up for social reforms which might lead to difficulties in certain sectors?
President: I don’t think so. I think every country has its own conditions and we are fully in control of the situation.
Question: You have taken measures. You have announced, for instance, land reforms. So you have two opponents. You have the right-wing people who say they wouldn’t dream of giving one square yard of land and you have the ultra left, who say they do not want a part of it, they want it all.
President: We are quite prepared to deal with both of them even if they collaborate with each other. But we can’t do anything insensible and upset the whole equilibrium. Our reforms, objectively speaking, are basic and sensible. They go deep in breaking the feudal stronghold. I have said repeatedly that all we can do is to set the pace and to do the right things. I can’t nationalize all the land. It’s not possible. Tomorrow, if someone wants to do it, let him try. At the same time. I can’t allow bigger estates to remain.i must cut them down so that production increases and the feudal power is eliminated. I think both the objective will be met, the elimination fo feudal power and the increase in production. The farmer will be happier because we have transferred all the burdens on the land-owner burdens of taxation, of providing fertilizer, of seeds. And those people who get the land, are getting it without any payment because we’ve offered no compensation to the land-owners. I think that’s a big measure of reform. The world doesn’t come to an end with one reform. If that reform is proper and successful, on that you can build other reforms. But no one can sweep the boards clean in one go.
Question: Don’t you fear agricultural production will go down.
President: No, that has not been our experience. That has not been the experience anywhere in the world.
Question: Chile is making this experiment. Cuba has the same experience. Chile ran into deep difficulties because they handed land over and they slipped. Do you think you can avoid that?
President: We’ll avoid that.
Question: The big land-owners can use machinery, the small ones can’t.
President: The small ones do it more intensively. We had land reforms in 1958 and although those land reforms were not as big as these, we have seen that the frame who gets the land works much harder on it. The land-owner with what he has got left uses tractors and tries his best too. So I don’t think we have a problem there.
Question: And when you give the land to the farmers, in the beginning they need some money. Do they get credit.
President: Yes, we see to that, of course. We give them credit.
Question: How much time will you need to put the country back on its feet?
President: Five years, constitutionally speaking. So I have to try and do everything in these five years but it will take longer. Basic problems, I think, we’ll be able to tackle in these five years, but to build Pakistan according to our dreams, I think is a ten to fifteen-year process. Mujibur Rahman is determined to stay in office for 25 years. I have no such ambitions but I have got this constitutional period, so I have set my goals on the basis of this constitutional mandate. My tenure in office democratically given to me it five years. I will try my best to do whatever I can in these five years.
Question: I hope that you make it through. I also hope that you have the courage which many leaders have not, who do not tell their people what is needed. Are you willing to go and tell the people quite openly everything? For instance, if you come to an agreement with Mujib, are you going to go to the people and tell them?
President: We can never by-pass the people.
Grubbe: Thank you, very much, Mr. President.