Editor: Your Excellency, it is indeed a great privilege to come and meet you.
Prime Minister: Thank you.
Editor: Your Excellency, I am greatly honored to be the first Egyptian journalist to whom Your Excellency has kindly granted an interview. I am more than honored that the three papers I represent, the Egyptia:1 Gazette, the French language daily and the Gamheuria, the first editor of which was none other than President Sadat, will be the first Egyptia.1 newspapers to give their readers a picture of the domestic, foreign and Arab policies of Pakistan drawn by none other than the great Pakistani leader, His Excellency Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who initiated these policies, launched them and dedicated himself to their fulfillment. You are well known to almost everybody in Egypt but not everybody in Egypt knows enough about the hard work you have been doing. Indeed not everybody in Egypt knows enough about the tasks you have set yourself, although your determination and dedication to see them fulfilled is well known. Further, not everybody in Egypt knows enough about what you have achieved, despite difficulties, or what remains to be achieved and the difficulties you will have to overcome. It is for this that I sought this interview. It is my firm belief that a powerful, well-developed Pakistan is and would be a great asset to the Muslim world in genera/ and to the Muslim Arab world in Particular. Your Excellency, may God Almighty guide your steps towards the fulfillment of all that is good and healthy for Pakistan and the future of Pakistan and for the Arab world and the future of the Arab world. I have ten questions. May I now proceed with them?
Prime Minister: With great pleasure
Editor: My first question is: for the 1970 elections, the Pakistan People’s Party adopted the slogan “Roti, Kapra and Makan” for everybody. How much of this has been achieved and does such a slogan still hold goal for the coming elections?
Prime Minister: I would like to thank you for your introductory remarks. In those remarks you have shown an understanding of Pakistan. So I am very happy at this interview. Sometimes, we have to meet correspondents who do not have the same understanding and knowledge of the country; interviews with them are hardly useful. But from your introductory remarks, it is clear that this will be a useful interview both for your readers and for our people; I will, therefore, give as much time as I can to answer your questions in detail.
You have said that during the last elections, my Party and I went to the people with he slogan “Roti, Kapra and Makan”. You said that we promised “Roti, Kapra and Makan” for everybody. Now I want you to understand our position. I coined two Party slogans; one was “Roti, Kapra and Makan” —I do not want to take credit for it because, when something is successful many people claim credit and they are welcome to it — and the other, enunciating the three principles of our Party, “Islam is our Deen, Democracy is our polity and Socialism is our economy.”
Why I am mentioning this is not to take pride in something that I conjured up but to say that I am fully committed to the concept and fully convinced of the propriety of this slogan. For good or bad, I believe in it. You have asked whether the slogan will remain valid in the next elections. I would repeat, I believe in it.
If I or my Party benefited from its use in one election and if we suffer for its use in the next election, that is part of election fortunes. But I do not change my commitments or convictions because of the fear that in the next elections, they may not prove to be as effective as they were in the previous ones. As a matter of fact, I am confident that, if it is properly understood the slogan will still attract the masses of the country.
The slogan, “Roti, Kapra and Makan” has been deliberately distorted. Newspapers which are not under Government control sometimes act as agents of big capitalists and of those who do not believe in egalitarian philosophies. That section of the press tries to pervert and distort facts and to mislead the people on these matters.
“Roti, Kapra and Makan” might have been used as a “slogan”. But it is not a slogan. It is an outlook. It is a philosophy. I am not so foolish as to have believed that with the limited resources of Pakistan, with a population which was a hundred and forty million people at that time because East Pakistan was a part of Pakistan, we would be able to provide “Roti, Kapra and Makan” to everybody. I was also not so foolish as to believe that the election I was fighting was going to be my last election and so I could tell lies. I did not say, ‘Let me win this election and then after me the deluge’. On the contrary, I knew then that I would have to face the people again.
Prime Minister: I knew that I would have to tell them what I meant by it or, if they misunderstood me, to explain the misunderstanding to them. I would therefore like to make it clear that the concept of “Roti, Kapra and Makan” represents our ethics in terms of the socio-economic conditions of our country and our past history.
In the post, no effort was mode for the common man, and no emphasis put on his interests. Priorities were not worked cut on the basis of what is essentially good for the common man. I formed the Pakistan People’s Party to change the whole emphasis.
Previous Governments were standing on their heads and they were trying to make the people stand on their heads. I wanted the people to stand on their feet and I wanted the Government to stand on its feet. I said that it was no use trying to do things which did not benefit the common man. We must go straight to the common man rather than say that we will reach the common man in the final result. The latter, you know, is capitalist philosophy which stresses capital formation first and benefits percolating to the people at the end. That, in my opinion, is an obsolete approach.
In this country we have got one very major natural resource. It is natural gas, and it is produced in a very backward part of the country. That gas was denied to the people of that Province by the thinking of the past Governments. They thought that it was not economically viable to take the gas to them as it violated the laws of supply and demand. If poor countries, impoverished countries proceed on the basis of the law of supply and demand, demand will only come from the rich....
Prime Minister: .... and the prosperous. This would mean that supply should always go to the rich and the prosperous. In other words, the elements of social justice and Islamic morality must be forgotten for a long time to come.
But the people are not ready or willing to wait for a long time to come.
That was why I said that we must not work on the basis of these imperialistic concepts. Imperialist powers could afford to be callous and careless about the requirements of the colonies. And the lessons they taught us were the wrong ones. So, when I talked about “Roti, Kapra and Makan”, I said that we must go for the people’s priorities. We must first think of people’s stomach, their clothing and of shelter for them before we go for grandiose schemes and big projects which scarcely provide the basic necessities of life.
Editor: It i essential.
Prime Minister: It is essential. I did not say that I would whistle and clothes would fall from heaven; that I would sing a song and houses would be built or food provided. I told the people that they would have to work and struggle very hard to increase production.
Editor: This is well known.
Prime Minister: And that we would change the direction of our planning from building palaces and sky-scrapers and from non-essentials to the basic priorities of the people. These are to try and build houses for them, increase the production of food and improve the production of clothing. Now this is the philosophy.
Editor: I see.
Prime Minister: And this is what we have done in these four years. Despite many set-backs and international problems, we have changed the whole orientation of the country’s outlook. We hive nationalized some big industries, banking and shipping. We have developed the public sector. We have brought about land reforms. We have given credit facilities to the farmers.
We have set up literally roti plants in the big cities like Karachi and Lahore. But nowhere in the world do things come free to the people. Nobody presents gifts. The People’s Republic of China is sometimes quoted as an example. I have not seen people work as hard anywhere in the world as in China. So the whole concept of “Roti, Kapra and Makan” is an ethical concept tied up with the practical concept of working hard and producing more. This has to be understood.
Editor: Yes, I see. Now to what extent does the Government of Pakistan believe in the policy of nationalization?
Prime Minister: Well, the point is that every country has its own experience and its own conditions. This is again connected with the first question. What is the extent of the State’s responsibility in fulfilling the basic needs of its citizens? Should the State consider that to be its responsibility or should the State leave it to the citizens to meet their requirements? In our opinion, it is the State which must take upon itself the responsibility of meeting the requirements of its citizens. It must not shift that responsibility. This is the basic position.
At the same time, we believe that the citizens must also have freedom to use their ingenuity and imagination, their hard work, their money and their effort to contribute to the welfare of the State. So we believe in a marriage between the public sector and the private sector. We believe that the basic heavy industries must remain in the hands of the State. They must be in the hands of the people so that they are not manipulated by the market forces. At the same time, we believe that there should be considerable private enterprise.
Prime Minister: Yes, considerable private enterprise in the country. Actually today in terms of percentages, seventy per cent or even more of the country’s industries is in the hands of the private sector. We have not nationalized the textile industry which is the biggest in this country. We have said that we do not intend to nationalize it. We have not nationalized sugar mills and we don’t intend to. We have not nationalized woolen factories and we don’t intend to. We have not nationalized surgical instruments, leather, sports goods and wearing apparel factories. We have not nationalized a number of other factories of medium size or even large size. But, of course we have nationalized cement and refineries.
Editor: Basic industries.
Prime Minister: We have nationalized basic industries. We want to maintain a balance between the public and the private sector. We want to see to what extent the private sector is going to co-operate. The success of the mixed economy in Asia and the Middle East does not depend on the Government; it depends on the private entrepreneur. If the private entrepreneur has faith in his country and the destiny of his notion, he will put the nation’s money, which is at his disposal, into the country itself.
Unfortunately, industrialists in Middle East and in Asia generally grew up at the time of colonial rule or when colonial policies persisted even after we were free. As a result, they have one eye on he south of France and New York or San Francisco or Paris or London and the other they have on Cairo or Karachi or Singapore or Djakarta. They have this dual personality. They are driven in two directions. The Falaheen will not have that approach. The new Egyptian will not have that approach. The new Pakistani will not have that approach. It is the hangover of the past that the class of big industrialists does not have faith in the greatness of its nation’s destiny. That is the reason why there have been difficulties.
What do they do? They try to frustrate Government’s policies, say that the Government is being dishonest and it will not keep its word. They try to take the money out of the country. They try to under-invoice and over-invoice. They try to manipulate the market forces. They try to weaken the Government.
So, in that sense, the success of the mixed economy lies in their hands. We are anxious that they co-operate, shed their prejudices and come forward boldly patriotically and bravely to invest. After all, the element of risk can never be entirely eliminated. There can be an earthquake and everything will be lost. If they go to Europe they might suffer an accident and die. Who can say now that in Europe the some conditions prevail as before or that any Egyptian or Pakistani can go and invest in England or America or Canada or Australia, and become a millionaire.
Those millions are best spent in their own country because there is now no guarantee, even in foreign countries, that there will never be expropriation. There might be.
Europe is coming more and more under socialist Governments. So, if they think they will take their assets to safety out of their own country, they may lose. They will then be taking away the wealth of a poor country and losing it outside. Well, if it has to be lost, it is better to lose it to your own people.
I believe that once in Egypt you had a play “Yasmeen, My son”.
Prime Minister: And in that play you tried to show the new Egyptian, his needs and wants. Well, I understood why. Basically, our conditions are the same and we have gone through the some historical process. So, when I speak of the conditions of Pakistan, I am speaking essentially of the conditions of your own country and you understand exactly what I tell you.
Editor: Excellency, jute was a major foreign currency earner for Pakistan when Bangladesh was East Pakistan. Is there any possibility of finding a substitute, for the lost jute?
Prime Minister: Jute was losing its market and various substitutes for it were coming even before the separation of East Pakistan through armed attack. Now, I suppose, there are more and more substitutes. When we were one country, we were faced with the problem of jute substitutes.
At one time there was indigo which fell out of use. It created great economic havoc in that part of the world. Jute is facing the some kind of decline. When the market for jute was suddenly closed to us, we managed to use substitutes in its place. It was very ironical that the country which was once the largest exporter of jute could not find a gunny bag. We had to face the challenge and we got substitutes. We made paper, cloth and plastic bags, and we also imported jute from Bangladesh through other countries triangular trade you know.
Editor: Of course.
Prime Minister: But now we have restored our relations and in the near future we will be having trade relations.
We also have a jute factory here in Pakistan and we are growing jute. It is not of the some quality but still good.
Editor: Excellency, there are reports abroad that your Government is practicing tough tactics against the Opposition. Should this be true, people outside Pakistan would like to know why?
Prime Minister: The world Press has been very unkind to Pakistan from the very beginning. The first shot was fired against Pakistan in 1947. At that time, the British who were opposed to partition, tried to distort the historical basis of Pakistan. They were even so cruel as to tell the Arabs that the creation of Israel was parallel to the creation of Pakistan. And then there were Indian stories.
Prime Minister: But I have heard it myself. I have read books and articles and heard them say “Oh, there was partition of the subcontinent and Pakistan coming into being. There is partition of Palestine, .... it is the same in principle”. But it is not the sonic in principle.
As a matter of fact the two are entirely different and I will give you lust one example. The Jews in Palestine are immigrants. They are intruders, who came in as part of a grand design — as conquerors, as colonizers. They came and they usurped the lands of the Palestinian people and of the Arab people. Balfour did not make a commitment for a State. He said that there would be a Jewish homeland. Well there can be a homeland for minorities. But that does not mean that they can set up a state. The creation of Israel was an international conspiracy. Pakistan was not in the same category at all. We Muslims were the people of this country. We lived here for centuries. Muslims ruled this subcontinent for seven hundred to a thousand years. Not only that. Many Muslims were converts from Hinduism and Buddhism to Islam. When the great message of Islam came, they abandoned the caste system and chose the religion of equality and brotherhood. So we were indigenous people, but Muslims, with an entirely different outlook from the Hindus, in every way, in our life in our architecture, in our food, in our temperament, in our values, in our beliefs. Efforts were made to reconcile the Hindus and the Muslims. One of the greatest efforts was made by the great Muslim Emperor, Akbar. He went to the extent of even trying to make a new kind of compromise religion but that, of course, could not succeed. It was bound to fail and so it failed.
The British tried to keep India together afterwards. First they tried to divide and rule and when they were leaving they thought that they could keep the subcontinent together and tried very hard to do so.
We are indigenous people, we are part and parcel of this land and we tried to evolve a compromise. In contrast, Zionists were outsiders. So, there can be no comparison between the partition of the subcontinent and the partition of Palestine.
But I have heard this argument used in the United Nations lounges and in the corridors of the Security Council to try and misguide the Arabs on this issue. However, the Arabs know better.
As I have said, the first shot of propaganda was fired against Pakistan when we came into being. The Western Press could not forgive us for having succeeded. It meant mainly the British Press in those days in 1947. They could not forgive us for having secured Pakistan. They did not want Pakistan but a united India. They wanted it because they thought a united India could stop the Soviet power. They were foreseeing the revolution in China and they wanted to stop Chinese power. So, they thought that a united India would stop Soviet power and Chinese power.
But actually, if the country had remained united by force, and the Muslims and Hindus continued fighting against each other all the time, there would have been so much chaos and instability that the purpose would have been defeated and nobody could have stopped anybody. So it was a wrong assumption. But it was their assumption. Mountbatten tried till the bitter end to stop partition. Now, in his old age, he has had a bock written full of praise for him. It is called “Freedom at Midnight”. From the first page to the last, it is a calumny against Pakistan and its founder — full of lies and distortion. Now this is the kind of literature that comes out. This is the kind of prejudice that exists against Pakistan.
So, the mischief started in 1947 and you know journalists are a fraternity. You have your clubs, you have your contacts, there is Fleet Street and the line is spread. I must add that the Zionist Press played a very big role in projecting a false impression of Pakistan.
First, imperialists did so because we were staunch opponents of imperialism. We were so opposed to it that, while India after independence agreed to retain the British Governor General, we did not. Consequently they spread distortions about us. Close on the imperialists’ opposition came the opposition from Zionists. Now, I am not a racist. I have a great respect for Jewish intelligence and culture. Some people would say some of my best friends are Jews. I would say it the other way — some of the best Jews are my friends. But the point is that Zionism played a major role in starting a campaign of distortion against Pakistan. Of course, it has a great influence on the American Press.
Editor: That is true.
Prime Minister: Therefore, there was a lot of hostile propaganda against Pakistan. When the United States Government wanted to establish good relations with Pakistan, the Zionist Press tried to prevent it and came in the way. It was hostile to Pakistan because we would not compromise our standpoint regarding Palestine or the Middle East. For a long time, I would say that Pakistan was in the vanguard in relation to the Palestinian cause and engaged in its eloquent projection.
We have always stood for the Arab cause forcefully, without- compromise, without any consideration, without fear of consequence. Now for these reasons, we have had an unfriendly Press. There is a third element also. It is the Indian element. They are a bigger country with more resources than we; they have more embassies than we, more approaches; we are one-tenth the size of India. So when you have these three elements, the imperialist Press, the Zionist Press and the Hindu Press — all three combined to malign one underdeveloped country, what can you expect? It was hound to influence some minds here and there.
Editor: What about your opposition?
Prime Minister: Here?
Prime Minister: Well, the Opposition here is not being suppressed or victimized. It is allowed to function. There is no country in this whole region which allows the Opposition to function like we do in Pakistan. How many countries in Africa or Asia permit a multiple number of parties to function? Your country does not. One day I asked President Nasser, who was very kind to me, “Why don’t you allow other political parties?” and he laughed (and you know he laughed very charmingly, he had a giggle and chuckle) and he said to me, “You want me to allow a multi-party system”. I replied, “No, I am asking you why you don’t. I don’t say you should or shouldn’t.” He said, “They will become agents of foreign countries; one party will be an agent of one country the second of another and the third will be an agent of a third country”. He went on to mention the three countries. He said: “Why should I invite those countries to come and function in Egypt?” So, your country does not allow a multi-party system to function; nor does Algeria nor Morocco. Iran has a one-party state and none of the Persian Gulf States has more than one party. Indonesia does not have a number of parties, nor Burma. India now is the biggest example. Fcr 28 years India beat the drum of democracy till she beat it to death.
Here in Pakistan we allow more liberties and opportunities to the Opposition than are given in many other countries. We framed the Constitution together with all the members of the Opposition. We have an independent judiciary. The High Courts and the Supreme Court are free.
We have got newspapers which criticise the Government. But no country in the world will allow the Press to incite military intervention which would destroy the country’s Constitution. Which country will permit seditious material to be published in its Press in order to subvert the duly constituted, elected Government? If anything, I have been very philosophical about the Opposition. My fault and crime is that I have not been as strong as some others in dealing with the Opposition. I have dealt with them philosophically, in a spirit of tolerance. Looking at the conditions of Asia, looking at the conditions of our country, surrounded as we are by hostile forces, and knowing the weaknesses of people and of politicians — I am a political being myself — seeing how easily they run to foreign embassies and ask for help — considering all this, you will have to give me some credit for my attitude towards the Opposition.
There was a by-election in Lahore. Do you know what a gentleman who was contesting the by-election did?
Editor: No, what did he do?
Prime Minister: He phoned the American Ambassador during the election. He said, “Excellency, I am the former Governor of Punjab and I want to meet you because I want to have some help and assistance from you for my election.” Of course, the American Ambassador avoided him. But he had the cheek to ask for foreign support. Then he went about very proudly saying that he was getting support from CIA. He was proud to say that he was a foreign agent. Did you ever come across politicians who would say that? Is there any self-respecting politician from any country who would openly say that he is a CIA agent, even if he were? When you have that type of politician, what would you expect?
I have to think of the country first. I must think of the security of Pakistan and its well-being. Pakistan has already been dismembered by too much tolerance. I would say that, in some respects, if Mr. Mujibur Rahman and his six points campaign had been controlled at the right time by the military Government, East Pakistan might no have separated.
I cannot give latitude to secession. I cannot allow the establishment of foreign tentacles in the body-politic of Pakistan. Foreign notions have their objectives. Some of these might be in conformity with our national objectives but others might be in conflict.
Believe me I have been very tolerant with these people. You know why? It is because I know that they are not the men who can face the problems of Pakistan; if they do, they will just disintegrate. They will collapse because they don’t have the conviction, the courage and the experience to be able to steer the country clear of a storm.
We are like a ship on tempestuous sea. A ship on a tempestuous sea must not be without a rudder.
I believe that God has given me the opportunity no only to save my country but to make my country strong. I am going to hold elections when the time comes. If I get one more opportunity to serve the people of Pakistan I can say with conviction that it will become a very strong Pakistan. The strength and power of Pakistan will be at the disposal of all the right and just causes. In this connection Pakistan will be the foremost in support of the Arab cause.
Editor: Your Excellency, what is your Government’s policy towards the Super Powers?
Prime Minister: The Super Powers are Super Powers. I believe that you must have good relations with them and not get into a confrontation with them unnecessarily.
You must not have a complex towards them. The relationship with them must be natural. You must deal with them in a spirit of realism but without fear. As has been said, war is bad but the fear of war is worse.
I believe that one should accommodate the Super Powers as much as possible on matters which are not fundamental. But if the Super Powers try to interfere in matters which are fundamental to the country on which it would be wrong to compromise, then in that case I do not think one should just sit and cry or get nervous. Just say, “Stop. I won’t to have nothing to do with you.”
Editor: That is very good.
Prime Minister: You cannot have a half-way policy towards the Super Powers. Either you have good relations with them. Or you go to the court of the people and tell them, “We would like to have good relations with the Super Powers but they want us to compromise our national sovereignty.” If a Super Power were to want to give away a river of this country to another or would like us to forget the right of self-determination of Jammu and Kashmir how can we agree to it? The best thing in such circumstances is to say good-bye. Break all the tentacles, and don’t allow mischief to spread.
If you start bargaining and you think that you are being clever, if you think you will buy time, you will no. The Super Power concerned can start cutting at your roots. They will try to use journalists and other people, try to circulate literature in your barracks, go to your businessmen and try to cripple your trade; they can do various other things. So, the position must be made clear.
Editor: Excellency, Asia ….
Prime Minister: Don’t you agree with that !
Editor: Oh, yes. Asia and Africa are known to be the store-house of the world’s raw materials. What do you think can be done or should be done to utilize such vast resources to serve the political and economic interests of the peoples of the two continents?
Prime Minister: Yes, Asia and Africa are the store-house of raw materials. But the value of those raw materials is more important than the store-house. We can bring those materials into the open and not just store them, provided we get a good price for them. But if we do not get fair prices, then it is really a painful tragedy to see the way these raw materials are taken away for a song.
On the other hand, when we have to import commodities their prices go up day by day.
Of course, the oil countries have given us a lead. We have maintained our solidarity with OPEC and will continue to do so. We also hope that OPEC will realize that the economic burdens that have been imposed on us as a result of the increase in oil prices deserve to be taken into account. If these additional burdens are not taken into account by countries friendly to us, the result will be a division in the Third World. In that event, countries which do not produce oil will be vulnerable to the pressures and manipulations of the industrialized nations. Then the underdeveloped world will be divided and this will ultimately affect the OPEC countries also.
I repeat, Pakistan will continue to support OPEC because we believe that, in the long run, this will be beneficial to all of us.
Now in this connection we hear about a new world economic order. The French President has taken steps to convene a conference in Paris. Of course the conference is a good harbinger of a change in the economic order. But I do not see this change coming about in the near future. It will take time. I am not trying to belittle the efforts made by France or to cast any doubts on her bona fides. I am talking about the general role of the developed countries. They are not in the habit of voluntarily coming to sensible solutions. When sensible arrangements concern the Third World, the developed countries accept them but reluctantly and grudgingly.
Ultimately, it will affect them also. It is going to be a long struggle. In the end, there will be a change and we will get better prices for our raw materials and for our commodities.
This will require greater unity and demand greater effort on the part of the developing nations. But if we fight in the Sahara, if we fight in Lebanon, if we fight political battles in palace corridors, then I am afraid the thorn will rankle and the problems will be aggravated. These quarrels will divert attention from the basic question of justice for the producers of raw materials. From that point of view it is essential that we should fight a real, royal battle but with one voice, uniedly. It should be one Asian-African-Latin American voice. There should be no discordant voice. And we should not feel shy if sarcastic things are said about us or we are told that we are unrealistic.
This word unrealistic is the most unrealistic word I have heard. You are told you are unrealistic only when you demand your rights. You will always be told that you are a realist when you surrender your rights. The point is that we should not be flattered by the word realistic nor embarrassed by the use of the word unrealistic.
Secondly, we should not be browbeaten. I see in the United Nations that a certain Super Power representative gets up on the rostrum of the United Nations and uses hard words. I am not frightened by these hard words. I hope nobody else will be. They will not do us any damage. Let us not forget the qualitative difference between hard words used by these who speak for the weaker nations and those employed by the Super Powers’ representatives. The hard words spoken by President ldi Amin, for example, at the rostrum of the United Nations are perfectly understandable because he speaks for a people that have been oppressed. But similar words from a Super Power representative have a totally different ring and connotation. We do not have to lose our sense of balance. The world is our world, it is nobody else’s. God says that the world belongs to its people. A majority of them live in the Third World. In our world, there is room for everyone; in theirs, not so. But we have nothing to worry about; the future is with us, time is with us. The only thing we need is unity.
Editor: It is true. Excellency, peaceful negotiations are one of the pillars of foreign policy. Do you think that such negotiations would bring about a just settlement to the Middle East conflict?
Prime Minister: The Middle East Conflict?
Prime Minister: You have asked me a question which I can answer but which I prefer not to.
Editor: In view of your experience at the United Nations, don’t you think that the use of veto has killed the resolutions which if allowed to be passed, would have brought peace and stability to many countries specially the developing countries? What in your opinion could be done to stop such action?
Prime Minister: I don’t advocate that the power of veto in the Security Council should be withdrawn because with that the Security Council would collapse and if the Council were to collapse, the General Assembly would also break down. This would mean the end of the United Nations. I, therefore, understand the necessity of the right of veto in the hands of the Super Powers. At the some time, it is important that the veto should be used in the cause of peace and in its promotion. I can give you one example when the veto was used to promote peace and justice. That was when the People’s Republic of China refused to admit Bangladesh to the membership of the United Notions until the 90,000 prisoners of war were returned to Pakistan and the territory occupied by aggression had been vacated. The Chinese veto in the Security Council helped to bring about the return of 90,000 prisoners of war. This was a big contribution to peace. This shows that the veto can be used for good peaceful purposes. But in the context in which you have put the question, I believe that the use of the veto in the present debate on Palestine will not contribute to a peaceful settlement of the Palestinian dispute. I believe that the veto in this connection was a negative use of power. What was there which needed to be vetoed? Resolution 242 talked about refugees. Now in 1967 you could call the Palestinians poor people and show sympathy. But today in 1976, the position of the PLO is entirely different from what it was in 1967. The Rabat Conference was the turning point. At Rabat, when Jordan agreed to recognize the PLO and the rights of the PLO, what happened to the so-called realism of the states that claim a pragmatic approach to problem? Is it not a reality that PLO exists. Is it not a reality that the Rabat decision was unanimously accepted by all Arab States? Is it not a reality that Jordan has conceded the West Bank as Palestinian?
The whole of the Arab world is involved in the Palestinian problem. The whole of the Muslim world is involved in it; indeed the whole of the Third World. More and more States are supporting the Palestinian cause. Most of them are extending support out of conviction. Others are doing so out of expediency. Some Western European countries changed their policy towards the Palestinian cause after the oil price went up. Incidentally, we don’t appreciate that kind of attitude. When we starve, they say, alright, they are starving but why should they have a repressive Government? But when they had to pay 20 cents more for a gallon of petrol, they changed their fundamental policy. However, that is a separate question. To return to the issue, more and more of the World is recognizing the rights of the Palestinian people. No nation, therefore, should adopt a diplomatic stance which will promote its own isolation. Nations work hard to break their isolation, not to promote it. From that point of view, I do not understand why this veto was applied.
The question is: what is the heart of Arab-Israel problem? The heart of Arab-Israel problem is not Egypt, it’s not Algeria, it’s not Sudan, and it’s not Pakistan. The heart of Arab-Israel problem is Palestine — the rights of the Palestinians.
What are the rights of the Palestinians? They include the right to their homeland, the state of Palestine. It would not be a new state; it would not mean the creation of a new country. The state of Palestine was recognised even in 1947. The British plan called for the division of Palestine. Now the point is this: the territory of the Palestine State falls partly in area occupied by Israel some of which was under Jordan; Jordan has recognised the right of the Palestinian people and thus the principle has been conceded by one of the two countries which are affected. The rights or the Palestinian people to a state is an established fact and it is now only for the other power to similarly accept a reality.
Editor: Your Excellency, I have two more questions, one on South East Asia and the other one on the Lahore Islamic Conference. I hope you will have time for me. Have you?
Prime Minister: Yes, yes.
Editor: Well, Your Excellency, what are, in your opinion, the prospects of South East Asia now that the American troops have been withdrawn from Vietnam?
Prime Minister: You know the Americans believed in the domino theory and they said that if Vietnam fell, other States would follow. In evolving that theory they chose no to take into account the nationalist aspirations of the Vietnamese people.
You can be a communist but at the same time a nationalist. We have seen this quite clearly in the case of China, in the case of Soviet Union, in the case of Yugoslavia and Romania and many other countries. All of them are communists, but they are Polish communists, they are Hungarian communists, they are Bulgarian communists and Cuban communists.
Vietnamese were also communists but they were Vietnamese and they have always been determined to safeguard their national interests.
The national character of the struggle of the Vietnamese people was not given due recognition in the war in Vietnam. Arms might have come from China, arms might have come from the Soviet Union but the battle was being fought by the Vietnamese who had their sense of notional identity, the feeling of their national aspirations and the consciousness of their national history — all three things. That is why the domino effect has not occurred and other states have not fallen. The Vietnamese want to build their nation. Their major task for a long time to come will be the reunification and reconstruction of Vietnam. That will engage their full attention. Of course, this does not mean that the power position has not changed. There has been a shift in the balance of power. You know that in Thailand and Malaysia some problems have been accentuated. I am mentioning only two countries.
The point is that even without any involvement by the Vietnamese, the victory of Vietnam offers a psychological, political and moral boost to forces in those countries which might want either to change the social system or to achieve their own objectives; whatever they might be.
When Bangladesh was created, the secessionists in this part of the country, these who had links with foreign powers, said, “Oh it has happened in Bangladesh, it can happen here.” I had to face that problem because you know there is a saying that nothing succeeds like success and nothing fails like failure. But it has not happened here, and will not.
That kind of a boost does not prove decisive. There will be activity in South East Asian countries, there will be political changes, and there might even be political upheavals and conflagrations. But that is the natural process of history. You cannot stop it. In Europe, it happened in 1848. It is happening in some parts now in 1976. It happened when you overthrew Farouk. Changes are bound to take place.
As I said, the world belongs to its people and I say it belongs to us because we are the majority of the people. The people will assert themselves more and more and their personality will dominate.
Editor: Your Excellency, my left question. What in Your Excellency’s opinion are the positive results of the Lahore Islamic Summit and is there any serious follow-up to the recommendations and the resolutions adopted by the Conference?
Prime Minister: The Lahore Summit Conference was a great success, because Muslim States from all over Asia and Africa attended the conference and they demonstrated their unity on the issue of the rights of the Palestinian people, of the Arab nations and the solidarity of the Muslim world. This was the biggest achievement of that Conference.
We did not get side-tracked into other issues. On the very first day, one neighbouring country tried to raise a bogey. I was the Chairman of the Conference; if I had been provoked, we might have been diverted into fruitless controversy on the very first day. Although it was my own country that was attacked, I refused to be provoked because I was not going to allow this representative to destroy the whole basis of the Conference. I said, “Well, we have been attacked before, we will answer that afterwards, we will not answer that here”. So, efforts were made to side-track the Conference but those were resisted and we pinpointed the Palestinian question and focused our attention on it.
Unfortunately, there has not been an adequate follow-up since the Lahore Summit. We hove seen some tendency wards division. The first task is to repair this division. My message to my brothers in Egypt and to your great President is: Please address your full energies to repairing this damage. If the division is not repaired now, it will lead to a critical situation in the years ahead. Even 1976 might be critical. Israel will use all her power and ingenuity to cause further division this year because it is an election year in the United States and such a year paralyses the United States administration in certain respects. Mahatma Gandhi used to employ the gimmick of observing silence on one day in the week. May be, like Gandhi, the United States does not speak during one year in four.
This is the time you people, and especially Egypt as it is the principal State of the Arab world, should take the lead to bring about Arab unity. Without Arab unity...
Editor: Very little could be achieved.
Prime Minister: Nothing could be achieved. You might lose more; you might lose the South of Lebanon.
Editor: Excellency, thank you very much.
Prime Minister: Thank you very much.