President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto said that President wants a comprehensive settlement of the Prisoners of War problem and all other major issues before it can move towards recognition of Bangladesh.
Such a settlement, he said, was necessary to ensure that new tensions did not arise between them. Peace was imperative for both of them and therefore Pakistan wanted real improvement in the atmosphere.
The President was discussing the implications of the recognition of Bangladesh with Mr. Hasnain Heykal, Editor-in-Chief of “ Al-Ahram” in Rawalpindi.
The President said that he wanted to meet Mr. Mujibur Rehman be cause he wanted to settle all the major problems once and for all . these included war trials, prisoners of war, treatment of Biharis and others, and the question of so-called collaboration. There was also the question of assets that after they recognize Bangladesh, Mr. Mujibur Rehman did not take up some other major problem, which was not unexpected from him.
The President said apart from every other consideration, it was is Pakistan’s interest to have links again with Muslim Bengal and these links he realized , could only come by recognition. They must swallow the bitter pill in order to move on the next stage. Pakistan was there fore prepared to negotiate and come to a settlement with them and the sooner it is done the better.
Replying to a question the President said both China and the Soviet Union have interest in the subcontinent. The Soviet Union has given a lot of military and economic assistance to India. They have also got new interest in Bangladesh. They have set up a base more or less in Chittagong and the Bangladesh is the back door of China.
The President said Pakistan wanted to maintain good relations with China as well as with the Soviet Union, because both of them were Pakistan’s direct neighbours. Of cause with China, over a period of times, they had developed special relations. With the Soviet Union too, their relations had improved considerably. But, he added, Pakistan wanted to keep away from the being interests of China and Russia.
The President said Pakistan wanted to normalise her relation s with India. China also wanted to see a normalization of the situation in the subcontinent, whatever the Indians might say. So from that point of view he did not envisage any tension arising between Pakistan and the Soviet Union. But it the Soviet Union tried to revive and press for the Asian Security Pact, Pakistan was not going to succumb to it, Pakistan had suffered a lot from pacts. They were supposed to give security but Pakistan lost half of the country while a member of two pacts Pakistan was, therefore, allergic to pacts and did not want to get involved in another pact. Moreover, the deeper question is: Asian security against whom?
Turning to the Middle East the President said Pakistan was vitally interested in what happened in the Middle East. The deadlock there affected them directly. The present stalemate of no peace no war must be broken, whether it is done through direct negotiations or indirect negotiations, because it will eat into the very vitals of the Arabs. He assured Mr. Heykal that whatever the Arabs decided and whatever position they took and this principally pertained to Egypt, Pakistan shall be with them. He said that the Middle East situation had a strong bearing on their own situation. If they were not going to resolve their problem in the Middle East, he feared great convulsions in the subcontinent also. India, of poverty and rising expectations. So also Pakistan could not continue in the present position with rising defence budget.
The President said Pakistan supported the Arab cause on Palestine on merit and for objective considerations, not simply because the Arabs were Muslims. Their’s was a just and right cause. Pakistan he said had suffered a lot for her support to the Arabs. Israel had actually masterminded the dismemberment campaign against Pakistan and was still active, But Pakistan would back up the Arab cause to the bitter end, cone what may.