President: I am sorry for the little delay. How was Europe?
Interviewer: Very interesting. I went to Britain, to Germany, to Beirut to feel the Arab situation, and back to Delhi and Bombay.
President: Are you coming from Bombay now?
Interviewer: Yes coming from Bombay. Well, I have returned here to continue my efforts to break the deadlock over the Simla Accord. The latest crisis, as India sees it was summed up by the India Press. May I read out a cutting? That was about three or four days ago. “Highest Government circles here have started wondering who really runs Pakistan? President Bhutto, or the army of the civil servants? It has become difficult to determine which face of Pakistan to believe – the one projected as Simla and after, the one at the UN in consent with China, or the one in the boundary negotiations between the military commanders?” What does Mr. President you think.
President: This is a mysterious way of putting it. I suppose all of us are running the country. In a democracy every one has to put in his weight, and I like to carry the people with me rather than do things entirely on my own. But essentially when it comes to the real decision, I am in charge of affairs and I have been no one's tool so far.
Even in the worst of times during the regime of Ayub Khan I spoke out bluntly. Our people know that I am not to be led by anyone. At the same time no one should expect me to ride roughshod over the raw feelings and sentiments of the people. That is not possible in me; it is not in my political temperament. It is necessary to carry people.
Actually I am glad you have come at this time. We are badly stuck in this delineation matter. On the delineation question, I gave our military commanders clear directives. I told them that the Simla Agreement says delineate the line of control where the Armies stood on the 17 th of December 1971. I explained to them that it was to be a factual exercise to be carried out faithfully. I cautioned them against tricks; I told them not to probe into areas after 17 th of December. I instructed them to delineate the line according to the letter of the Simla Agreement. I believe they proceeded on that basis.
It is a long line to draw, there are areas, which have been in the de facto control of Pakistan since 1947. You must be aware of it. In 1963, there was some trouble. What happened was that the Indians took the position that the old cease-fire line no longer existed anywhere except when it came to the regions in our de facto control. Only at this point they upheld the old cease-fire line. We told them that they could not have it both ways. On the one side to say that the old cease-fire line does not exist, and, on the other, when it comes to drawing an advantage from it, to give sanctity to the cease-fire line and contend that this is on our side of the cease-fire line. We got stuck on that for some time.
Interviewer: But I think there was a complete agreement on this?
President: On this, I will tell my DMO to brief you fully. I think, that will be the best thing. You see our maps, minutes and everything. If you like, you could meet me after that again and give me your honest, objective opinion. Is that fair enough?
Interviewer: Because from both what I have read and heard since I came back from my visit abroad was that the whole agreement was completed, almost signed and sealed, and then your men went backward.
President: I will show you the documents.
Interviewer: Nevertheless, apart from what I have just explained to you, there are other contradictions between the hopes raised at Simla and the realities that have followed. First of all the Simla Pact and subsequent clarifications you gave me in the September interview led to two conclusions. First, that Pakistan and India had rejected the old posture of confrontation and war for a new policy of peaceful co-operation, and second, that all problems and disputes will now be resolved through bilateral negotiations; and second, that all problems and disputes will now be resolved through bilateral negotiations. Am I right, Mr. President, so far?
Now what do we find? Your men at Washington and the U.N. seem to be provoking a renewed confrontation, even talking of war. Your foreign policy appears to have turned its back on Delhi and dropped bilateralism to adopt a posture suggesting Chinese and CENTO American influences and finally, your military commanders insist on raising disputes on trivial matters even after the agreement has been reached. How does all this help Pakistan's principal objectives of getting back her occupied territories and prisoners of war as speedily as possible?
President: Our principal objective is more than getting back our occupied territories and prisoners of war. Our principal concern is to live in peace with your country. That is more important. It is over and above the territory, which you hold for the moment or the prisoners of war, which you hold for present. The objective is much bigger. Of course, we can't proceed to the next phase until we are over with the first one. As for the hopes aroused by the Simla Agreement, it is to some extent a subjective assessment. The concept of hope and its picture differs from mind to mind. In this way it is a subjective phenomenon. Only mind may conjure a hope resting on peace and not war and the picture it draws will be a long road to genuine peace. Other people might feel unconcerned with the day-to-day developments. For them the hope of new era is coming into being; they hope that Simla Agreement is both subjective and objective. The objective fact is that we cannot turn to others for our solutions. We must essentially turn to ourselves for the settlement of our disputes. Now, I stand by that. We all stand by that. Even in our last meeting. If you recall, I told you that the crux of the matter is that we must deal with each other bilaterally.
Of course, we are living in a small world. Yet we cannot completely close the rest of the world to us. But we will concentrate on bilateralism; emphasize the bilateral character of our relations. At the same time, if you remember, I told you that we can't be unrealistic and say the rest of the world does not exist. I will tell you how. Now, there have been two or three recurring incidents of POWs being shot. I do not think you will accuse us of taking it to a high pitch. But the world will take cognizance of it. How can that be stopped? You have not seen a statement from me. It is not that it did not hurt; indeed it hurt us very much. The families of POWs and other were agitated, but the Foreign Office gave temperate and balanced statements only to keep the atmosphere calm. I have made many speeches, since we last met. My last speech was at Layallpur.
Interviewer: Oh, that was very encouraging indeed. You spoke on Bangladesh.
President: I told you. We will go forward as I see the openings. I have not referred to India in a recriminatory manner. That also testifies to our effort to break the lockjaw. Things carry their own momentum in the General Assembly. With the pulls and pressures, the spotlight and press and everything else, it is sort of a public performance.
They say the UN does not act. It is acting all the time. But even so the leader of our delegation, Raja Tridev Roy, who incidentally is from Chittagong, made a moderate speech. That is why we want to avoid a debate on Bangladesh. One of the reasons why we want to avoid a debate is that we don't want to get involved in forensics. I have told them to keep in touch with your people and meet them. I would not have given those instructions if our emphasis was not on the bilateralism. But while we are there, we have to put forth our case effectively. We have to project our point of view convincingly. On the whole, I believe that we have played it in a low key. This is so because we have an eye on the next meeting we hope to have. I don't think we can ever turn our back to Delhi or turn our back to the critical realities we face. There is this time factor as well. I told you the last time; things go on in the subcontinent in their own way. Sometimes, they go fast and sometimes slowly. We have to tarry with it.
Interviewer: Now the objection mainly was raking up so many old issues, Kashmir and so and so. More than the United Nations, your Ambassador in Washington literally ran amuck while taking about war, tensions. At least that is how the speech was reported in the British press and also in the Indian Press.
President: I saw a small part of it. But it was not reported fully here.
Interviewer: I think you should read.
President: Yes, I will.
Interviewer: The issue of recognition of Bangladesh also is being vitiated by, what I consider, avoidable provocations. Here, of course, your latest bid to mobilize popular consensus for recognition is most welcome. But, since your assurances to my Government and myself that recognition was due and coming there have been irritations, may be minor irritations, likely to upset Sheikh Mujib and his people. You continue to treat Bangladesh as part of Pakistan. The only concession you made to her independence is to refer to her as Muslim Bengal or the Dacca Administration. Even her own legislators are permitted to sit in your Assembly as if Bangladesh was a province of Pakistan. Still you insist on the Sheikh meeting you before recognition. In what capacity? You don't expect him to come here as a citizen of Pakistan or the satellite of Pakistan.
President: No. On the other hand, if we did not do this much then recognition would have taken place. It is a fact that recognition has not taken place yet.
Interviewer: I believe the complex is in you mind.
President: We see these things clearly. We have recently arrived at a constitutional agreement. You can draw your own interpretation from it. My Lyallpur speech was the follow-up of what we have been discussing. First, I spoke to the foreign press on the need to have a realistic approach. But it came in general terms. Then I thought, now, we could move a little ahead. And I did move a little ahead, of course.
The controversy exists but never mind. That is our problem we will deal with it. As far as annoyance and irritation are concerned, I think our friend Mujib has contributed his share of it. He keeps talking of trials and makes statements of a nature, which, as I told you last time, make our task difficult. After Ramzan, I intend to undertake tours, and one of the North West Frontier Province will begin soon.
Interviewer: What is the purpose, to get a national consensus on recognition?
President: I must explain to the general people, the common man, the good reasons for recognition and carry the populace with us. Other people have gone around taking a negative line. We have to explain to the people that the only way we can again have good relations with Muslims Bengal, is through contact and through association and by our presence in Muslim Bengal. They will come here, we will go there. There will be trade between us. There will be cultural exchanges and things of that nature. That is the only way we can again come closer to one another. But some of our people here, our political colleagues, are giving wrong analogies, like that of the Arabs and the Israelis not recognizing each other. I have to go and explain that the analogies are false, because the Arabs and the Israelis don't seek normal relations. If you don't want good relations with East Pakistan or Muslim Bengal or Bangladesh, then don't recognize it. But if you want good relations, you have to consider according them recognition without a sense of coercion or humiliation. You see, I have to prepare the necessary climate.
Interviewer: It is said that Pakistan is laying great stress on Maulana Bhashani campaign against Sheikh and still entertaining hopes of some links. Supposing the links are re-forged or even reunification takes place would it not affect your position in Pakistan?
President: I don't mind that. I have been misunderstood on that before. After the elections I made it quite clear that if Mr. Mujib-ur-Rahman had a federal constitution, we would be happy to sit in the opposition and work in a democratic arrangement. But he wanted a con-federal arrangement and, in a confederation, both sides had to have representation in the Government. That is what it is. If at any time Muslim Bengal or East Pakistan choose to have that kind of arrangement. I would be the happiest man in the world. It's a very small price to pay, very small price indeed. After all, in a democracy you come and go, power is not perpetual. In dictatorship, either you have to shoot your way through or there is to be a revolt. You see, we have a democratic constitution. Democracy is restored. In a democracy Prime Ministers come and go. As far as Bhashani is concerned I know well. He is sometimes incomprehensible.
Interviewer: Well he is. He has gone through extraordinary changes. Now he wants an Islamic constitution. Sheikh Mujib has his difficulties also. He denies having promised to meet you again. But if he did so, may be he took it for granted that recognition would follow his release. Somehow that was the general expectation at that time. He had no idea of the magnitude of the war and the killings and the consequent hostility.
President: Yes. I saw the paper. He had a copy of Blitz in his hands before he landed in India and he was worked up over it. At this stage, I do not want to say anything, which will upset him because he gets easily upset. But sooner or later when you get nearer here again, and you are always welcome to Pakistan, I may give you some concrete evidence of it.
Interviewer: Well, we leave it to the future. However, Mujib's interview in the Dawn is tough. Our difficulty in India is that parts of the Simla package can be opened only if the Sheikh is brought into the picture. That means you have to straighten out your relations with Bangladesh. Then only we can help. Have you any proposal for breaking this deadlock, any new ideas on recognition, apart from what you have just told me?
President: No, I have repeatedly conveyed to him that if we meet, as I told you the last time we met, we can have a dialogue in depth. When I come back from the talks, I will take the necessary steps one after the other to mobilize public support on our mutual relations.
Interviewer: Your coming back from your tour?
President: No, from my talks with him. I have to put it before the Assembly, to discuss the matter there. I had that conveyed to him. I told him that if there is any other country, in whom he has greater confidence, if he likes to trust them, we are prepared to convey to that country some kind of assurance. Although I have got a feeling, not evidence, that he might be coming round to having talks. He says that there must be a basis of equality and that lies in recognition. It does not necessary lie in recognition. The United States and China have met one another without recognition. And, as far as equality is concerned, if he wants to sit on a higher chair, he can sit on the higher chair. I will be less equal, because the population of East Pakistan is more that the population of West Pakistan. He can sit on the high chair. I can sit on the low chair. These are unnecessary formalities. Obviously, when we meet, we meet as equals otherwise there is no need to meet. Not only in the legal sense, but also in the metaphysical sense, equality is there. It is inherent in the situation of our meeting.
Interviewer: Could you not possibly find some way out by at least permitting other nations who, I know, would like to recognize Bangladesh but not till you give them the go-signal. May be some other Muslim countries if they were permitted, it will also strengthen your position here, and it will show him that you have not been just discussed about the whole thing; or may be you send back some East Pakistanis as a gesture.
President: I have sent so many out. I have let them go on compassionate grounds; students, doctors, wives of people, they go to England and from there they go the East Pakistan.
Question: Mujib knows this?
President: Of course, he must be knowing of it. A lot of people have gone there.
Question: No I was just thinking of some key which could break this deadlock because upon this depends, unfortunately, everything else.
President: Yes. I know, prisoners of war will pose no problem after this.
Question: Well, he has suggested that. It is my reading of his interview with the Dawn where he says that after recognition all problems – all problems is significant – will be solved. But whether he should include at least for discussion etc. the problem of prisoners of war?
President: But as far as Mujib-ur-Rahman is concerned, he will remove his veto, so to speak, on the return of prisoners of war. But your Government might not take the same position.
Interviewer: No. I think our Government, I am not speaking on behalf of it, but from all that has been said and done so far, in the context of the Simla Agreement, it would take the broadest possible view. Personally I feel that once you extend recognition, may be as a gesture from your side, then all the problems – assets, liabilities and prisoners of war – they all will get settled down.
President: One of your Ministers is in New York at present, Mr. Panth. He had a discussion at a cocktail party with our Minister who is leading the delegation. From that conversation, he was not being categorical, but he was saying that the question is that there are other matters involved before we can release prisoners of war. We told him that Mujib's concurrence will greatly facilitate the return but it does not mean that the key will be given for an automatic release.
Interviewer: From an official quarter, other than the Prime Minister of India, I think this means quite a lot. That is how I will interpret it.
Interviewer: your party's election manifesto calls for Pakistan's withdrawal from the CENTO. Why have you reversed the line?
President: That is a good question. The point is that, as far as SEATO is concerned – we are both in CENTO and SEATO – we have, without hurting our friends, withdrawn and we don't intend to participate in these meetings in the future. CENTO, IT IS THERE. We had made the commitment to withdraw from CENTO to the electorate before the dismemberment of the country. That is one factor.
The second factor is that there is no hurry. We have not said that we will permanently remain in CENTO. But once we have resolved some of our more pressing problems we are likely to review our position in CENTO and our general foreign policy. But there are two considerations for CENTO. One is the dismemberment of Pakistan. Second is the Indo-Soviet Treaty. These are the two vital considerations.
Interviewer: But do you consider Soviet Russia either inimical or hostile to Pakistan or vice versa, because I know that Russia is deeply interested in the non-dismemberment of Pakistan.
President: Quite right. But the point is that if the Soviet Union can have good relations with Turkey, which is a member of CENTO and NATO, and if they can have good relations with Iran which is a CENTO member and with Western Germany for which NATO was created, then I don't see why only for Pakistan CENTO should be an eye sore for the Soviet Union.
Interviewer: No, because Pakistan has now passed under the control of Mr. Bhutto whom we have always regarded as a radical leftist politician.
President: By and by, we can consider this, but you know there is also a third consideration, which concerns our relationship with Iran and Turkey. They are extremely interested in CENTO. When you meet His Majesty the Shah of Iran, you will find out. Also the Turks; they have been good friends of Pakistan, helped us off and on and there is this other consideration.
Interviewer: But that apart, it puts you in a major contradiction with Arab politics.
President: As I told you, subsequently when we settle down in the subcontinent, I will take up this matter with them. Whatever reasons they have for our remaining in CENTO, apart from the sentimental ones, these can be covered.
Interviewer: It seems very significant to reason. That is my next question. Our assessment is that America is involved in Pakistan and CENTO politics to serve her developing interests in West Asia. CENTO wants to use non-Arabs to disrupt Arab unity and resistance. Why should a forward-looking statesmen, like the President, get his country involved in this oily racketed psychology?
President: We have not got involved in it. We will never come in the way of any movement to strengthen Arab unity and Arab renaissance.
Interviewer: But CENTO and SEATO, their very origin is to destruct and destroy the Middle East.
President: Original objective have become obsolete, both militarily and politically. But we will never come in the way of that magnificent development in the Arab world.
Interviewer: That apart, you have mentioned Russia, and I said that there are many countries who are deeply interested in keeping Pakistan strong, alive and sound; Russia, Britain, I believe the entire European community, whether it is Germany or France. I have discussed his matter at the highest level. In fact, we discussed your interview with the British Foreign Office for almost an hour and they take more or less the same liberal view that India and Pakistan can talk on many subjects. I did not mention them here. Perhaps, what one feels, are you putting all your eggs in the Chinese-American basket. Is it for the good of the country, for the all good of you, for the good of our subcontinent?
President: As far as the China factor is concerned, I think, I explained the other day when we met, that there are objective considerations and objective interests. We are neighbors. I can tell you that in the future, once this Bangladesh entanglement is over, you will find the situation developing positively.
Interviewer: That means you will turn to our own subcontinent?
President: I think we will turn to the subcontinent and China also, you will find, will appreciate the development. It is not that China would oppose that. I think you have a totally wrong impression of Chinese intentions in the subcontinent.
Interviewer: But barring India, this seems to be a happy thing for every body else. Now, have they not raised extraordinary bogies in the United Nations, for example, the Chinese delegate mentioned-an absolute peace of fiction-that we are helping Dalai Lama to set up a Government in exile. This is not our policy. We have put all kinds of restraints on Dalai Lama. We have tried our very best to befriend China.
President: I am unaware of the situation in Tibet, which does not form a part of the subcontinent. I repeat, I cannot speak for other countries but I think there will be positive developments after these two things have taken place i.e. withdrawals and return of POWs. And, as I told you last time, I will speak more on the matter if the situation develops in the right direction.
Interviewer: Somehow it is not only India, in Britain also, and some other places also, the opinion is that China is the spoiler of Indo-Pak relations. It does not suit China's policy to have normalcy and peace in the subcontinent.
President: I have been an admirer of British but they are making some wrong assessments nowadays or, perhaps it is a bigger plot I don't know. But this line that they take is not a correct evaluation of the objective conditions.
Interviewer: Your Embassy has replied to some criticism in the London times. Somehow that criticism is widely shared. You are being accused of breach of faith with the Simla Pact and they think that they derive this accusation from your internal weakness. That is the whole trouble.
President: No. Whenever you feel the need to meet me, I will be happy to meet you. So, we leave that part to them as far as the Simla Pact is concerned. Secondly, I told you, and I have told your Prime Minister to please leave the timings of these matters to us, because the difficult decisions have to be taken by us. You are not called upon to take the difficult decisions. One is the question of East Pakistan or Bangladesh. That decision neither your Government has to take, nor Mr. Mujib-ur-Rahman. We have to take it. The second is peace with India. On both matters it is Pakistan that has to take difficult decisions, and our position, therefore, has to be appreciated and must be appreciated, if we want good neighborly relations. And, you don't want our back to the wall because if the wall breaks than what will happen after that? That is one thing. Secondly, some of these projections are really uncharitable. The man wants to remain in power. So, in order to remain in power, he will go back on the Simla Agreement.
Now, the point is that I have never gone back on my word ever in my whole political career; I have honored whatever commitments I have given. And, I have, of course, asked for time. But that is an ancillary element. Then, which government wants to commit political suicide? I think it will be silly to say that Mrs. Gandhi does not want to remain in power. After all she has done a great many things, fought within her own party, did other things, worked compromise for the purpose of holding her Government. In every country if there is a crisis for a Government, that Government makes an effort to retain its position, whether it is a democracy or a dictatorship. What is the unusual phenomenon here? Suppose I have demonstrated that I want my party to remain in power and to consolidate itself. That is the object of every political party. But the way the British press puts it, it is as if something extremely macabre is happening.
Interviewer: No, on the contrary, I think, you can remain in power by implementing the Simla pact.
President: That is not the point. If I feel that I am no longer wanted by the people, I am too sensitive to stay there in spite of the fact that they hate my Government and don't want me to stay. Then I would vacate. But this notion that because we want to remain in power we will go back on an agreement, that is our of the question. Secondly, political weakness and all that. I don't know how they think that our internal position has weakened. How does the internal position weaken? It weakens, in a way, when an election is held. Then you know whether you are in or out. Otherwise, there are ups and downs. Now, there are so many ups and downs. Sometimes your Government becomes popular internally, some times it becomes unpopular. The internal position is a changing factor, prices go up, the housewife gets upset; then the prices come down or some other thing happens. These things go up and down. Just before the constitutional agreement, there was the question of the London Plan. My people thought, my God, Heavens alone know what is happening to the country. After that we pulled the constitutional agreement and the people felt satisfied and happy. We do not believe that our position has weakened. If it had weakened, we would have said so, and weakening means that the whole country wants you out. That is not the position. If you were here, you could have seen the Lyallpu8r station, the enthusiasm and the support. I think these prejudicial accounts are given to confuse the situation. I don't want the situation in India to be confused. In India, you must realize that we have made an agreement to honor it and we will honor that agreement.
Interviewer: Mrs. Indira Gandhi also, since you mentioned her, has got her own difficulties, just as you have yours. The Accord which was heavily weighed on your side was a difficult and controversial decision for our Prime Minister but she made it. For behind her signature was the vision of a future; of a positive co-operative co-existence between all the nations comprising our subcontinent: a great dream built upon good faith and mutual accommodation. It was in this context that millions like me backed the agreement, and hailed Mrs. Gandhi and Mr. Bhutto as architects of a new era of Indo-Pak amity.
Now, unfortunately this dream seems to be vanishing. It is not vanishing, at least finished. And, people are asking us. These are questions, which I have collected from readers' letters to my paper and all the papers. What has happened to Indo-Pak good relations? Was Simla some tactical exercise or strategic gain? Why has the cold war started all over again? Why do Mr. Bhutto and his diplomats keep harping on old conflicts and controversies? How can the Pakistan Ambassador in Washington talk of renewed war after the Simla Accord? If they hit us with the demand for self-determination in Kashmir why do not we retaliate by raising similar war cries in support of the Pukhtoons, Baluchs and Sindhis? These are the questions being asked to Mrs. Gandhi, to myself, to others. What reply?
President: In the first place you tell your readers to be a little patient; we can't remove the debris of years of antagonism, suspicion and all that goes with it overnight. There must be first of all a little patience. Secondly, time will show whether it is a good thing to burn one's fingers by putting them in the furnace of another country. These efforts are counter productive. I tell you, Mr. Karannjia, I have given strict orders to my people that they are not to play around with any one in India who claims to be wanting this, that or the other. Strict orders. If India puts her fingers into the furnace of troubles either in Sind or Balochistan or Frontier, I think it does not behave her. It will fail miserably.
Interviewer: Similar instructions have gone to every department in India. For example, we of the Press have been told that after the Simla Pact there should not be any talk of war or propaganda inimical to the spirit of the pact.
President: Not only that I have stopped talk of the South of India going to break away tomorrow, or that the Sikhs are about to. We have turned our backs away tomorrow, or that the Sikhs are about to. We have turned is talk of self-determination in Kashmir, why don't we then interfere in Pakistan's internal affairs.
In the first place, Kashmir is a disputed territory. So when we talk about self-determination of the Sikhs. The analogy is not correct. And secondly, the point to consider is what in the Simla Agreement is broken. There is a mile and half of territory in question. You can turn round and tell me why we don't compromise on a mile and a half. I will answer, why don't you compromise on the mile and a half. You will say why you should compromise on the mile and a half. I will say for the following reasons. In the first place, you are a bigger country. A mile and a half means nothing to you. Secondly, with all this creation of Bangladesh and everything else, your policy objectives, whatever they are, have been met. Thirdly, and this point is much more important, you see, our people here, they have felt, over a period of time, betrayed, and this is not because I am running down the previous Governments but dictators don't believe in carrying the people with them. They see decisions appearing logical and put to them by certain countries and they accept them but people regard them to be against their interest. So, there is that cynicism. Well, if it comes to a sell-out, we have been sold out before but never again as long as I am President of Pakistan. I have to lift their morale and make them understand that this will not happen again.
This matter is important in the sense that we stand on principles and not because it is a matter of a mile and a half or a hundred square miles, and this issue should be viewed in that perspective. There will be greater confidence generated to strengthen my hands. I wish I could explain this to your Prime Minster. She might say why we are being cussed. It is not being cussed. The situation over the last 25 years and the way it has developed with Tashkent and various other things has been such that with each new development our people have felt disappointed with the compromise. If we are right we will succeed. If we stand by what is right, this will strengthen my hands. People here must know that nothing has happened under the table that we did not compromise. That is the point. Secondly, if we are wrong and your Government can convince us that we are wrong, we are prepared to review our outlook. Either your convince us of the truth or we convince you.
Interviewer: How can that be done, through another meeting at officer's level?
President: I think, Mr. Haksar will have to come here, or Mr. Aziz Ahmed or Mr.Rafi Raza will have to go there, like we did last time.
Interviewer: Why do they not meet immediately?
President: I don't mind. But, you see, we were there in the region of dispute and now I can justify the adjustments by pointing out that India occupied about 250 miles in the northern areas before the ceasefire of December 17. They occupied it in war. They were there on the 17 th of December. On that basis they have a claim to stay there until there is a permanent settlement. We must go according to Simla Agreement or an equivalent principle.
Interviewer: Well, could I have a brief from the DMO on this? I will meet him of course. I will look into the whole thing. But if you can give me your brief I will see that it goes to Haksar.
President: Well, I have told them that you give us some equivalent area, where you were on 17 th of December, so that we can say, we exchanged a military presence for a military presence. But to ask us to vacate from a place where we were militarily present, it will be untenable for me to justify it without corresponding exchange-otherwise India is having it both ways. She has taken the territory that she held and she has made us leave the territory we had occupied. Only some kind of fair exchange of this one, and a half miles will resolve the deadlock. It is not a military threat to you. It does not mean a thing. If you have a point of view we also have a point of view. Precisely for this reason Kashmir is disputed territory. The Simla Agreement says delineation will take place without prejudice to your position and without prejudice to our position.
Interviewer: You mentioned your difficulties- patience, your people, I mean throughout I see that cold running, that you want to carry national, popular consensus with you and naturally you are worried about the opposition. But are you taking too serious a view of the extremist elements?
President: I have told you that objectives are not impaired by their antics. As I said to you on the last occasion, after Ramzan, I will go to the people. I want the people to understand that whatever we are doing is in their interest and in the country's interest. It is not the extremists that trouble me.
Interviewer: Now, if you can put it to your people, for example, that what you are doing is being done in the bigger interest of the Simla Pact and also in the detailed matter of bringing the lost territories and the prisoners of war. And if the right wing forces dare to obstruct such a sensitive national issue then surely you can set the whole nation against the saboteurs and force the issue.
President: It is not for them. I am concerned about proper modalities.
Interviewer: You are not doing it for them. We have always had a feeling that you are frightened. You see we have the same trouble. Mrs. Indira Gandhi has the same difficulties. Your “mullahs” are bearded, ours are clean-shaven. That is the only difference.
President: Not at all, I know their strength and I know the measure of their weight. It is for the people. As I told you in the past, they felt disillusioned, they felt out. We have stood by them. They are the source of our strength. I told them in Lyallpur, I know that you will agree with me because there is no difference between your thinking and my thinking. That means I know that I will be able to carry the people. We are not going back on any assurance.
Interviewer: No, that is the feeling.
President: Do you mean we double-crossed you?
Interviewer: No. The feeling does not exist in Britain and other places. Two issues, number one that you are somehow frightened of these bearded elements, and, secondly, that China is spoiling you.
President: Neither. If I had felt so chicken-hearted, I would not have started a big movement against Ayub Khan. And put Yahya Khan in his place. It is not that at all. It is that, I am sensitive to the feelings of the people. Simply that, I don't want to give them the impression that I am not consulting them and I am going behind their back. This is my method. China is not at all coming in the way.
Interviewer: What are the findings of Justice Rahman? Because, you see, reports are filtering through in the Indian Press and foreign Press, this enquiry into the September debacle.
President: Nothing sensational. I have set up a high-powered committee. I keep reminding the committee to let me know when they are ready to discuss the report. There are a number of people on it; the military people and ministers, among other high officials. When they are ready, we will consider the findings of the committee and if the committee decides that we should release the report, I will be prepared to release the report. If they think that there are certain sensitive parts relating to foreign policy and such issues then I will give due consideration to their advice. Personally, I have no hesitation in disclosing its findings. It is matters and foreign policy and other sensitive issues.
Interviewer: Broadly speaking, what is the nature of the report? I want to carry as clue.
President: It is difficult for me to speak on it at present. It pinpoints the debacle on Yahya and his Government. The brunt of the responsibilities has been put on his shoulders.
Interviewer: Not to the Generals. Finally, Mr. Bhutto, we would like your conception or vision of the future shape of our subcontinent, after these problems are tackled with or about to be settled.
President: You asked me that on the last occasion.
Interviewer: No I don't think. I forgot to ask you.
President: Well, I have told Mr. Rafi Raza but you had left by that time. I can't speak in constitutional terms. Constitutional terms have caused us problems and difficulties in the past. You remember the old days when we were young; the negotiations between Mr. Nehru and the Quaid-e-Azam, Constituent Assembly trying to formulate a plan. These constitutional contrivances, terms like federation, confederation and the like have always conjured up all sorts of feelings. I think we leave it to the political plane, to the political and economic plane. As we progress with our political understanding of each other's problems, with that will follow economic activity. You live on your side of the fence. We live on our side of the fence. No hedgehopping and we can have very good relations on that basis. It is not that we should tie them down in certain constitutional arrangements or things of that nature. We have got Afghanistan as our neighbor. We will like to have most cordial relations with Afghanistan, the kind of relations you envisage between India and Pakistan. We like to break the barriers, have custom unions and the like with our northern Muslim neighbor.
Interviewer: Or may be of European community that we have modeled for us.
President: But that will take a long time because we have to reach their level of industrial development. Today, at least, as far as us and Afghanistan are concerned, I do not know about the Indian economic position, we are mainly exporters of the primary commodities. We have not reached that level of industrial development. When it comes to cooperation, in the in the agricultural field, it is much more difficult than in the industrial field. Because prices fluctuate; we produce about the same things; we are short of the same things. When there is an abundance of agricultural commodities then we can talk about exchanging those commodities between ourselves. But, today this is not possible.
The European Common Market concept comes with a highly industrially developed base, which we, at present, lack. We lack the necessary infrastructure. But, in terms of economic and cultural and trade co-operation, according to our conditions, with the resolution of political differences – we must make an earnest effort to resolve them on the basis of principles – then we can look forward to that era of greater co-operation. But, within the concept of our own country, within the concept of your own country, and there is Afghanistan, and there are other countries as our neighbors.
However, what you said about CWENTO, its merits and demerits, we had been in two of these pacts –CENTO and SEATO. SEATO is behind us. I gave the reasons why we are in CENTO. We can review our position with the passage of time. But, we would not like to get involved in any new pacts with super powers and great powers. You ask Pakistanis what they think of pacts. What is means to be in pacts with super powers and great powers?
It is an unequal relationship, and finally in the unequal relationship, you will find that you can't outsmart the super powers. So, we are wary of these arrangements, whatever the terms of these arrangements and whoever sponsors them. Even if China were to sponsor such a thing we would be wary of it. I think you understand.
Interviewer: Our talk leads to one conclusion that is lack of the pipeline for constant communication. I may come here once or you may to there once or Haksar may come here. But can't we establish some kind of machinery whereby the obstacles, the difficulties, different points of view…
President: After Simla, we thought we could have exchanged our ambassadors and, at that time, I brought with me the man with us whom we intended to post in Delhi. But your Government was not too keen on it. We, therefore, dropped it. I don't see why we cannot take that action simultaneously.
Interviewer: Sort of diplomatic representatives?
President: Yes, Sooner or later, your man will have to come here; our people will have to go there. Both countries have very big missions, lying vacant. I would desire the missions to be re-opened.