Interviewer: How will the Simla Agreement affect the future of the Indian subcontinent?
President: If the Simla Agreement is implemented in good faith, and the disputes left for further discussion are resolved in accordance with established principles, a durable peace can certainly be found to ensure good neighborly relations between India and Pakistan.
Interviewer: Will you support the idea of a Common Market in the region?
President: A Common Market comes into being after certain standards of economic development have been reached. Even in such a developed stage, many difficulties arise as is evident from the experience of the European Common Market. The objective conditions of the subcontinent are no where near that stage of a take-off towards a Common Market. This, in my opinion, one way or the other, is not a determining factor. A Common Market in the region can come at the end of a long process of development, of resolving disputes, removing causes of tension and creating confidence. In principle, I accept the concept of peaceful and mutually beneficial trading arrangements between neighbouring countries. However, in the subcontinent, we have a long history of mistrust, of suspicion and hostility. We cannot move at once from confrontation to cooperation. A realistic approach would be to first achieve normalization of relations, and then proceed to improve them, step by step. Whether such improvement could finally lead to greater cooperation in the economic sphere will depend upon the way mutual confidence is built up on the basis of non-interference, respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence.
Interviewer: What is your opinion on a final settlement of the Kashmir problem?
President: The Kashmir dispute is centered on the right of self-determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. This right is inherent and was not conferred by Pakistan or India on the people of Jammu and Kashmir. It was guaranteed to the people of the state by U.N. Resolutions to which both India and Pakistan arc committed. It is a pledge of the whole world. Therefore, the final settlement of this problem is an international responsibility. However, there is no reason why our two countries must go to war time and again over this matter. But while we are agreed on the need to refrain from the use or threat of force, we do not see how the cause of justice and durable peace is served by any effort to impose a settlement. Repeatedly I have pointed out that we have no locus standi to deny the right of self-determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. This is the position based on principles, international morality and international law.
Interviewer: Do you think that relations among the countries in the subcontinent depend upon how far the people can he weaned away from communal thinking and diverted to facing economic problems?
President: I would certainly he happy to see our people in the subcontinent devote their resources and energies to economic development and social progress. The party to which I belong has a clear programme for ameliorating the lot of the people. When durable peace is established, I am certain that a greater proportion of the limited resources of this region will he devoted to the elimination of poverty and backwardness. Society can profess different faiths and develop different cultural traditions without being swayed by prejudices or violence. We should make a distinction between our values and traditions and the cruel exploitation of communal prejudices as a substitute for enlightened and progressive thinking?
Interviewer: What should be done to keep out foreign intervention in the subcontinent as well as the Indian Ocean?
President: If the countries of the subcontinent and of the Indian Ocean follow the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter and settle their differences equitably and peacefully in accordance with the provisions of the Charter, we can turn this whole area into an area of peace. If we adhere to the Bandung principles of peaceful co-existence, we can keep trespassers out of our region. The world is becoming smaller every day. Contacts and cooperation between countries of this region arc inescapable and inevitable. What really matters is that the sovereignty and independence of all countries, great or small, is respected. We will not accept hegemony and domination of any outside power. This is an axiomatic position.