President Bhutto made it clear in unmistakable terms that it would be monstrous to put Pakistani prisoners of war on trial for so-called war crimes.
In an interview with Ann Lapping of London Weekend, a popular TV show, the President pointed out that Pakistan was, after all, one country when these soldiers were trying to keep it intact. They were only discharging their duty and any country would do it.
The President said, “Mr. Mujib-ur-Rahamn keeps threatening that he will try prisoners of war. Sometimes, he give a figure of hundreds, then it goes into thousands but it is not a sensible way out of the crisis.” The President said that Pakistan was prepared to look at the issue objectively. If some people, as Mr. Mujib says, committed excess, “we are prepared to try them here according to our laws and will do full justice, justice that satisfies the world community. “What more does he want”? The President asked? The president said it was time they got down to business and stopped making a nuisance of themselves and attracting world attention unnecessarily. At least that was his approach.
In reply to a question, the president said there were a number of valid reasons for Pakistan not having recognized Bangladesh. First of all, it was different from other countries that had recognized Bangladesh. “We cannot take such a detached view. Bangladesh, as you call it now, was a part of Pakistan, in integral part of Pakistan. “And finally, with all the mistakes and errors that we committed, India had to intervene and use naked force to dismember East Pakistan from West Pakistan,” This was an important consideration, though not a decisive one.
The President said Pakistan wanted to have good relations with them for a better equation between the two parts. After all, they had been together for 25 years and before that also, in various struggles. It is therefore, necessary to put an end to all possible sources of friction before they could move on to recognition. He said he knew that recognition is the only way to have good relations with them.
When the Correspondent stated that Mr. Mujib insisted on recognition as a pre-condition for even starting talks, the President replied that he could not accept the problem of recognition as being a pre-condition, and cited the recent example of talks between President Nixon and Chairman Mao Tsetung even though America had not recognized China. President Bhutto said he insisted on talks before recognition because he wanted to clear the deck and solve all problems. He said he could not rely on the words of a person who broke it again and again.
It was not only Mr. Mujib, who was involved, but also India, “and our experience with India during the last 25 years had been sad over Kashmir. “They (the Indians) had said that the right of self-determination was sacrosanct. “Where is that right of self-determination?” He asked.
Then, he pointed out, the Indians said they had no intention of dismembering Pakistan; they were pledged to peace and peace was a passion to them. Et they committed aggression five times against Pakistan.
When the Correspondent said in that case there would be a deadlock and Pakistan would not be able to have its POWs back, the President snapped back, “never mind, because nations have to bear the consequences. It is a sacrifice which our people would have to bear.”
Replying a question on the future of Biharis, Mr. Bhutto said that Mr. Mujib must accept the principle that these people had rights in East Pakistan because they chose to go to that part of the world. “They have been born there, and they have contributed towards building it up. It is therefore Mr. Mujib’s duty to protect his citizens.”
He said he would like to see some of the Bioharis coming here, but the fact was that this part of the country had already had more than its due share of refugees. “In 1947, he said, “We saw millions and millions of refugees. It took us 15 to 20 years to rehabilitate them. “We can still see the memories of shanty towns and of slums, unemployment, misery and crime because you have to integrate the people. “Again there was a war in 1965. The refugees came in from Kashmir, again in millions. “We are barely settling down, trying to move ahead economically. We got swamped twice by it and for the third time also, we are prepared to take some of them, but we cannot be burdened and crushed in such a manner arbitrarily.”
The president warned that Mr. Mujib wanted a “racist state” and he was going to hound out anyone who is not a Bengali. “Tomorrow he might want to throw out the Buddhists because he was after the blood of Chakmas living in Chittagong. At this rate, he would have only Bengalis left. And then he would be able to choose from Bengalis. Some of them he would call collaborators, and his list of collaborators ”will go on increasing”.
Mr. Mujib “cannot have that arbitrary Caesarean power. “Is he Napoleon Bonaparte, or is he Adolf Hitler that everything that Mujib accepts, the world must accept, reasonable or unreasonable?” the President said and added: “Mr.Mujib should talk sensibly and rationally, and he should get off his high horse.