Interviewer: What is happening here now? One hears from all sides—from Dacca, Delhi and from here—great expressions of wanting to find a peaceful solution and a lasting solution to the situation here. It is now a year since you were inaugurated almost immediately after the war.
President: I am not pessimistic at all. I think things are going like on a sleepy lagoon, the way they go on in the subcontinent. But the direction should he right; for a change it is. There might be sparks flying off here and there; tempers will rise and fall. But, basically, we are still committed to the Simla Accord and what it connotes. We have neither deviated from it nor said anything which would foul up the atmosphere. We have taken reverses with a sense of serenity. Even over the deadlocks there has been sobriety and rationality which in itself is a contribution. Now for instance, I will give you an example of the delineation business. In the first place the Simla Agreement did not link up the delineation with the withdrawals from the international border; and there was nothing in our discussions which gave that impression either. On the contrary, there was talk of withdrawals taking place without difficulty within a certain period of time, although the delineation might take much longer because it is a difficult terrain to delineate. Conversations of that nature clearly indicated that there was no connection between the two. But when India started connecting the two—the withdrawals and the delineation—I felt a little disturbed; but I thought that instead of going to the Press or screaming hoarse on the Radio or making speeches, it would be better to send our people across to Delhi and ask them why they had this after-thought. So I sent our people to Delhi and they met the Indian Government officials, including the Prime Minister and they came back satisfied. It was again made clear to the Indian Government that there was not going to be any linking between delineation and withdrawals and they gave a date for the withdrawal. Originally it was sup-posed to be the 3rd of September. Eventually there were many changes. The funny part about this whole exercise is that when this line was fully delineated, there had been 20 maps that were exchanged and signed and the only formality that was to be complied with before delivery was the approval of the Senior Military Commanders. That was a mere formality. But when they went hack to Delhi, and returned the following day they said that they did not agree with the 20th map. I made it clear that the question which was of 11 miles would not prejudice our claim or theirs with regard to Kashmir. By that stunt, you don’t resolve the Kashmir dispute. The strange thing about this whole thing was that the area was offered by the Pakistani Commanders to the Indian Commanders and three times they rejected the offer.
Interviewer: What would you then consider the next priority after normalization of relations?
President: Of course, there is the question of prisoners of war: there is the question of resumption of diplomatic relations between India and Pakistan and other connected matters. There are quite a few problems we can discuss. We can discuss trade also.
Interviewer: The Indians have said, and I felt, you have gone strong after the Simla Agreement because they think at least there was .some understanding that you will recognize Bangladesh after Simla. You have not yet. Why not?
President: I made then a genuine appreciation in my own mind that I would be able to take the question to the National Assembly in August and I believed that I could take it in August. What happened was that Mr. Mujibur Rahman made two or three statements which hardened people’s thinking here.
Interviewer: What precisely?
President: He said that trials would take place: that come what may, Pakistan would have to recognize Bangladesh and that three million Bengalis had been killed and a million Bengalis raped. You see such things appeared and the opinion here hardened. It would have been absurd of me to take the problem to the National Assembly in that situation, for all sorts of doubts and difficulties were expressed, both by my party and outside. But the main thing is that I have not reversed my stand on the question of recognition. I genuinely believe that recognition is the only way for us to have good relations restored. Dialogue is the only method. This is our independent opinion. We don’t have to be influenced by the Indians or the Russians. If I believed that recognition was harmful to Pakistan I would not mind if Mrs. Gandhi screamed hoarse or if the Russians thumped the table and said all sorts of things. I have gone through that before as a Foreign Minister. If I could go through it as a Foreign Minister, now that I have got charge of my whole country I can go through it again. I genuinely believe that recognition should come.
Interviewer: That is why you are attaching the conditions to meet Sheikh Mujib before recognition.
President: Yes, not for any personal pride. There are valid reasons for it. We have to discuss a totality of problems: the question of foreign debts; the questions of assets and liabilities; the kind of relationship we should have. There are all sorts of conjectures that Bengalis are dying to become part of Pakistan again. You know the people might say: Oh, you have only to wait for a few more months and you will see that the anti-Indian feelings become so strong. This is the argument advanced against recognition. Anti-Indian feelings have become so strong that if you just patiently wait for a little time the Bengalis will come begging to join Pakistan again. Any little news that comes from there that on some wall in Dacca are written the words “Pakistan Zindabad”, people say, look, there you are. We have to tell our people that this is not so.
Interviewer: You don’t believe in all this.
President: No, I know that is not so. I have got my feet on the ground. The people have to be convinced that it is a wrong impression. We offered the Bengalis a special relationship including special trade relations. We could also set aside the formality of visas between each other, and so many things to show that we are not unmindful of our past links. These problems have to be discussed; the problems of foreign debts. We are up to our necks in foreign debts. This is to be resolved: otherwise they will say it is the liability entirely of Pakistan, which it is not. I know Mr. Mujibur Rahman well. He wants Bangladesh to he recognised first and says that everything else will he settled. When I met him he told me here. “You have only to release me and everything will fit in its place. I won’t he ungrateful. You just release me; you would he saving my life a second time.” At first, he said, “You have to accept only this that the Assembly will hold its session in Dacca.” Now, after doing that, he went back and demanded recognition, whereas he had told me here twice that the moment he went back to Dacca, he would take charge and meet me immediately because he agreed with me that we had to meet to thrash out our problems and after that we could live as brothers. Now he says, “You have only to recognize Bangladesh.” But I know exactly what he would do after that. “We are impoverished,” he would say. “You take the whole foreign debt and you owe us so much in terms of our share of the assets.” Again we will be involved in another controversy. So I want a package deal.
Interviewer: And if you cannot get a package deal as one Chief of State to another, do you want it before the recognition?
President: We want a package deal; I will take the problem to the people; and I will carry the people with me. I am quite confident that I will exhaust opposition on the question of recognition because opposition to a right decision cannot be sustained. I can already see, here and there, that opposition on this issue is bound to wilt. I have made a long tour of the Frontier. I am going to undertake a similar tour of the Punjab. I will go to the people and tell them that they should suggest a better method if they do not want recognition. I know they will start nodding their heads except a few cranks standing on the corners who are paid by these orthodox parties. I would not be going to the people and making these speeches if I did not want to recognize Bangladesh. Who wants to commit a political error of this nature and go to the people with something ostensibly unpopular? There is no need for anyone to be suspicious that I want to pull a fast one. We have told the Great Powers and our friends about this— the British, the Russians and the Americans; and I believe that this is the only right decision. We should have time because the decision has to be taken by us and not by them. Since the decision has to be taken by Pakistan it is not fair for either India or Bangladesh to tell us when we should take the decision. We must be prepared for it at home. If they had to take a difficult or unpleasant decision, I would not tell them that they must take it today; or otherwise the whole apple cart will be upset. The timing of a difficult decision should be left to us. Yes, I did tell them that I would take the issue to the National Assembly. But I found that the situation was going to be explosive, therefore, I postponed it. But I am not going back on recognition. This is my grievance with the people in Delhi; you see, I am prepared to recognize their difficulties straightaway, but they should recognize our difficulties too. We were dismembered by them and we were the ones who had to face all the privation, humiliation and the sundering of our country. Whatever the reasons were, the follies of Yahya Khan or whatever else, the sentiments of our people are raw. We have to talk to the people. We have to recognize that half of our country is gone and we have also to face the problem of living with India in a changed situation. We hear expressions which upset our people, make them mad as hell. I don’t know why the Indians call themselves the dominant power in the subcontinent. The moment they do so there is a reaction. Our people say, “Oh, really they think they are the dominant power now, just because the other half of our country is gone, which was sort of a deadweight on us.” Are they the dominant power really? Why should they use that expression? Did the Americans ever use it in NATO? If they are dominant then their strength will be intrinsically known and measured. Such things come as a grave provocation to a part of the subcontinent, which has been far from subservient to the other part historically, and whom the Indians always regarded as the terrible people from the north went on tour to the Frontier and I have seen the mood of the people.
Interviewer: Do you feel that this feeling is so strong that there is every possibility again of Pakistan confronting India?
President: I don’t want to encourage confrontation and we should not have that sort of relationship. I think we would like to live in peace. But they also must contribute to it. Politics do not belong to a historical vacuum. There have been historical factors in the subcontinent and in East Pakistan’s separation we have lost our national unity and lost in many ways. But there are other problems. India cannot put her fingers into the fire without burning them. The point is that these are avoidable irritants, especially those which stem from the feeling of having become so mighty. Those who are really mighty don’t show off.
Interviewer: You feel that India is trying to rub Pakistan’s nose in the dust?
President: I don’t know whether she is doing it deliberately. But a power does not emerge as dominant merely through the pranks of last year when it has terrible food deficits and drought and poverty and misery. A great power does not do small things like this. We returned all their prisoners, each one of them. They returned us only those they had captured on the western front. They should not use these expressions. They used to get angry with me for using the expression of a thousand-year war. But that was a metaphorical expression, used to mobilize my people in time of war. When you are at war, you don’t demoralize your people. You mobilize your people in every way you call. The British had to do it, the Americans did it and we had to do it. That was the word they caught on. But they have been dangling it around and it is brought out every time I or any foreigner sees them. Now this expression, ‘dominant power’, is exactly the obverse of metaphor, a constant threatening stance? How can United States take the position that India is the dominant power in this region? We don’t regard India as a dominant power, even after the separation of East Pakistan. India’s friendship we are prepared to accept, but India’s leadership we will never accept. Indian hegemony, we will never accept.
Interviewer: Do you have any choice?
President: Of course, we have. We are not down and out. We can mobilize our people against any form of hegemony. When I was Foreign Minister, we had the best of relations with the United States but when the United States wanted to have overbearing control over Pakistan, then the people, who believed in their national destiny and independence, did not say, Well, all right we have no choice but to get kicked in the teeth.” I told them that our people would not accept a position like that. We had strains for some period. Our relations are excellent now, and if the Russians tried to dominate us, even though they are much bigger than the Indians, we won’t permit it. Why are our relations with China so good? Because at no stage have they tried to do that. So, we would have the best relations with India, but it must be a friendship not based on the concept of dominant power.
Interviewer: Going back to Bangladesh, I was there last week and spoke to the Prime Minister, Sheikh Mujib, and he is still very adamant on trying some prisoners of war. Do you feel that under any circumstances you will accept that or you think the Pakistani people will accept that?
President: It is not for me to accept that. The prisoners are in his custody. It will send everything up in smoke here and take us to a point of no return. We have seen the kind of trial they held of Dr. Malik. Moreover, in principle, it is wrong if you wish to have an overall settlement. If Dr. Malik’s trial is a forerunner and if he tries these people of Pakistan’s Armed Forces, it is going to hit the people very hard. Feelings are very hard everywhere in the country. In the Punjab people will naturally be very upset and they have a right to be upset.
Interviewer: It can hurt your position.
President: It can hurt any one’s position to the extent that it will create problems. It is not that the problems cannot be faced, but these are the problems which can be avoided. We have suggested so many ways of overcoming these problems. We can try these persons here and award them punishment. Why should we want to protect people who have committed excesses? In a civilized society, you don’t protect savages. If there has been savagery and carnage by individuals, we condemn it. We are prepared to bring them to exemplary punishment here to the satisfaction of world opinion. But holding of these mock trials in Dacca causes a provocation of the gravest magnitude.
Interviewer: He also complained that one of the problems right now with Bangladesh is lack of trained people and they maintain that enough of their trained civilian people are here held as hostages and not allowed to leave. Will you allow it in an agreement that the Bengalis will have freedom to go home?
President: I tell you, I have closed my eyes to so many people’s going. I think it is again being very unfair. Every application that has come to me on compassionate grounds, I have treated sympathetically. So many have gone, so many of them who said that their parents were in Canada or in England—there are so many of Bengalis living in England—and I have allowed them to go. I let the Bengali Law Minister Mr. Kamal Husain’s mother-in-law go. Three days ago I let so many students go. They crossed the border and went to Kabul. Do you think we were so inefficient that we did not know that they were going? We have allowed officers, too. On the other side, they are holding on to our prisoners of war against the Geneva Convention against the U.N. Resolutions. They are threatening to hold trials. As fan as we are concerned, we have to either consider how to look after the Bengalis or what to do about them. Now it does not mean that I have no blood hounds here. The moment he starts talking about trials and all that immediately our people start saying, “Well, why don’t we retaliate.” Retaliation comes so easy. People don’t think of consequences when they retaliate. But I have not retaliated and I have not made any statement that I am going to try the Bengalis here. There are Bengalis, it can be said, who committed acts of sabotage and anti-state activities during the war. They can be tried; there can be more than trials. We will wait and see how it goes. I have no intention of keeping them as hostages here. I hate the word ‘hostage’ and I hate the concept of keeping hostages. if he is prepared to take the whole lot—lock, stock and barrel—he will have to stop these trials.
Interviewer: That is, you are attaching a condition for returning all the Bengalis?
President: I am not the divine ruler of Pakistan. I am running a new democracy after 15 years of arbitrary rule in the country. I can’t close my eyes to public feelings on this matter. He talks so much about his public opinion. I don’t make it an issue. I don’t say “my people” the way he keeps on saying “my people, my people”, as if he has given birth to all of them. But I can’t be oblivious to public opinion, when it is found to be reasonable and just. When he has kept our prisoners and wants to try them our people will not take kindly to the Bengalis being allowed to go.
Interviewer: What about the Biharis? Every Bihari to whom I have talked in Bangladesh still strongly believes that he is a Pakistani citizen and believes in Pakistan and they want to be repatriated. Will you accept them?
President: As time passes, with the economic problems of East Pakistan, Bangladesh, getting more complicated, many Bengalis will also start calling themselves Pakistanis. The point is this that here again Mr. Mujibur Rahman arbitrarily decides that he doesn’t want these people. There are about a million or more, how many, I don’t know, sometimes they say, five hundred thousand, sometimes three hundred thousand and sometimes a million. Now the question is that these people are his citizens in principle. They have lived there, they have migrated there, they went from Bihar; they too are Bengalis. To them East Pakistan has always been Pakistan; they contributed to its economy. They were in the railways they are hard-working people, they built and they have made their contribution. To take them lock, stock and barrel, means to kill this country by compassion. In 1947, we had three to four million refugees. We keep getting them. We have got unemployment. Wherever I go, people catch me and tell me about unemployment, food, shelter, and clothing. Now we are just getting to settle down. We are just about to resolve some of the basic problems, like the language controversies, the constitutional problem of autonomy, some sort of a forward movement on national integration. The texture is beginning to be woven together. On top of that, we cannot superimpose the problem of 300,000 to 400,000 people. Again and again we see new slums, new shanty towns. Have the people of Pakistan no other right except to see slums and shantytowns? Since the creation of Pakistan, we have been facing refugees, migration, unemployment, poverty, all this will add up again immediately. However, I am prepared to accept those Biharis who are from divided families, whose families are here and some others in the bargain. But just to categorize them and expel them because they have been anti-Awami Leaguers or he has got some grievance against them, is manifestly unjust. Today he says all the Biharis are Pakistani agents. Tomorrow he might turn on the Chakmas because the Chakma Chief is here as a Minister. He might decide that all the Chakmas should be thrown out.
Interviewer: But the Biharis want to come here.
President: As I said, as time passes, you will find more and more people wanting to come here. Some of the Bengalis, who have gone over to Burma have also asked for repatriation to Pakistan. In principle, he must accept the responsibility of all the people living there, and if he does that, then we are prepared to discuss them. This is another problem we have to discuss.
Interviewer: You mentioned your constitutional agreement. I gather there was a lot of debate about it and lot of concern about regional .feelings cropping up again. Are you quite satisfied with the agreement as it was reached?
President: It is an all-party accord. All the parties in the National Assembly have put their signatures to it. They congratulated the Government. They congratulated themselves. They appeared on the television. I am morally bound by the Accord which is an all-party Accord made voluntarily. I will proceed with it now in the National Assembly on the basis of those principles.
Interviewer: Once the new Constitution is passed will there be new elections?
President: There are two ways of looking at this problem. If we are going now to tackle some of our basic problems — constitutional, economic and political — then there is no need in Pakistan for another election. There is need in East Pakistan for another because they have created a new country. We have not created a new country. A part of our country has been severed. Since they have to evolve the rationale of Bangladesh, there is a justification for them to hold elections or a referendum. Here in Pakistan after 25 years we had one election and we ripped each other apart, Bengalis, Punjabis, Sindhis. Now, we have just begun to crawl and walk again with our four provinces. The language problem, as I said, has been settled. But if you have an election, all these problems will tend to crop up again. Again there will be riots over questions like language, the distribution of water between the Punjab and Sindh which has not yet been settled and again the sectarian feelings, and all sorts of things will raise their head. Again we will be attending to those problems and not to the basic problems of survival. We are today still in the process of ensuring our survival. Were we to hold elections, we would have to put aside Kashmir, the Simla Agreement, and relations with India and we would have to make strong speeches also, because that is what they like. All that business of who the hell is India will come up in the election campaign. If the people think that that’s a good thing for Pakistan, I am not afraid of it because in every by-election that we had, we have won by a long margin. When I was out of Government and all the military people were opposed to my party, we still won with a thumping majority. Now, we have done nothing against the people, we have saved the country, we have given them a constitutional accord. We have brought about the end of this language controversy. We have brought about fundamental reforms in the field of education which everyone accepts, in the agrarian system and the labour laws. Why should I be afraid of another election? I might get rid of some of the people who were thrown on my band-wagon and who are unnecessarily creating problems.
Interviewer: Recently some members of your Government and your party have accused you of abandoning some of the principles of your party, mostly they accuse you of not being socialist enough and not adhering to leftist party platform, going against labourers and favoring business.
President: I will tell you, I have explained this at the Convention. I made our position quite clear. Those people who say that I am not a socialist, they mean that I am not a communist because socialism is a catholic term. Socialism comprises social democrats, the Scandinavian type, Tito’s type, the Romanian type, the Chinese type, the Albanian type and the Soviet type. But to me, socialism does not mean communism. And I have told them this before and I tell them that now. So I have got the position stated very clearly that we believe in democratic socialism. We will give reforms which are socialistic in character. Nobody appropriates land to the extent of 300 to 400 thousand acres without a penny as compensation to the land-owners if he does not believe in socialism. Nobody takes over 23 odd industries and gives no compensation. Do they think this is not socialistic? I think they are wrong. If they want me to be a communist, they have to join some other party and I will be able to deal with them. Don’t think that they are a problem. They never were a problem. They will now have to come out in their true colours. So that’s the position.
Interviewer: One of the problems of your economy, as it is in India, is a problem of lack of business confidence, lack of reinvestment of capital. It seems to be the major problem in your first year although it looks now to be turning. Is it turning because you have made overtures to business?
President: No, I had clarified that long ago. Our businessmen, as I have told you earlier, are not the real entrepreneurs who make the system of free enterprise work. The entrepreneur of the United States is prepared to take wholesome risks. Our entrepreneur takes no risks at all. He is terribly chicken-hearted and he makes no real contribution. Since there is state control to some extent, he gets a permit and he sets up his industry. Capital formation has not been brought about here by the private sector. In India, more capital formation has come from the private sector than in Pakistan. In India you have the Birlas and Tatas who really put in their capital. Here what our businessmen have done is that they have really put in state money and they have become the managers and the owners. They get the permits. On this basis they import their plants. They convert it into local currency and use it for their local capital. They go to insurance companies, they go to PICIC, they, go to IDBP - these are our financing institutions—they also go to NIT. They take both internal government rupee and external government foreign exchange. The capital formation is taking place here all the time through the State. If, therefore, they don’t want to invest, I do not intend to go to each of the 22 families and ask them to invest. Once your project starts going, the Consortium takes over. They are welcome to invest. We are telling them that 80 percent of our economy still belongs to the private sector. They can go for fertilizers, cement, textiles, indeed for a variety of units. But I can’t hold their hand and tell them that, as long as God is in the heavens, all is going to be well in the world. Who can guarantee anything for the future? They must take the risk which is inherent in the 20th century. I don’t think they will be sufferers because so many of them have stacked away so much abroad in any case. I don’t see why they cannot apply their genius or their skill to the growth of Pakistan, because they have a role to play. I don’t deny their role. But I am not going to strike a deal with them compromising on principles. There is no need for me to compromise because I don’t expect that kind of a golden age which you have secured from the vast contribution that your big business or your private capital has made to the growth of your economy. We are prepared to help them within the limits laid down. If they are not forthcoming, we will proceed ahead ourselves in the public sector. What is stopping our economy from really proceeding ahead is that project-aid has not yet come in. Once we get commitments from the Consortium, mostly from the World Bank or the United States, we will be able to make our economy move much faster. Even this year, I have sanctioned three sugar mills in the Punjab, another two or three in Sindh, one more oil refinery, one huge fertilizer plant, and we are going to have a second subsidiary port in Phitti Creek. The steel mill is going to come up, another small steel mill is also to be set imp with Chinese assistance, then we
are thinking of a second port in Baluchistan. It is not that we have remained immobile. We have gone pretty fast in the passage of one year to be able to sanction all these projects. If you travel to the interior or even in Karachi you will see the amount of road-building that is taking place now. The road-building is going on at a pace much accelerated from the one at which these roads were built in the five or six years of Ayub’s regime. You see the Karachi Airport, you go to Sindh, you go to the Punjab where we have started low-cost houses; roads are being built, the lands are being distributed. I am travelling all the time. Only a week ago, I was in Chitral meeting the White Huns in Kalash. Today, I went to the Municipal Hospital in Nazimabad. All the time we are on the move; all the time we are bringing our full energy and vitality to bear on the effort, catching the lazy one, shaking him up, motivating the people. So we are doing our best.
Interviewer: Recently civil strikes were halted down, I gather, with a lot of strength in the Government’s power. Many people with whom I have talked saw that as a change of policy.
President: Not a change of policy. But you find this happens everywhere in the world where enlightened or progressive or liberal regimes, whatever name you give them, come and introduce reforms. What happens is that the communist cadre goes and tells workers that reforms are not enough. When a regime which is not communist, but yet progressive, takes over then the communists have to show to the people immediately that such a regime is not the one they sought. They accuse it of having deviated from that road. They mislead the worker until the reforms become tangible to him in terms of relief, in terms of better benefits. There are communists who are Utopian in their thinking. They have their big grandeur notions, finding oil and tapping the minerals, gold and all that is supposed to be hidden somewhere in Gilgit, and the rubies and diamonds supposed to be somewhere in Chitral. We have heard these stories. But until we discover all that wealth, there is no gold or minerals or oil in our hands. Jute is gone, we have got cotton. We are trying to do our best, we have now also started exporting rice. But they are both agricultural commodities. We have got Sui gas but that is for our internal use. We are not exporting it. We have got water-logged lands, we are trying tr) reclaim them. We have a pressure of population which has to be relieved. We have to provide education to the people. In these circumstances, taking the whole picture into account, we have literally gone to the edge of the precipice at this stage to accommodate labour. If I could do more for labour today, I would be very happy to do it. I have exhorted workers to increase production and to work hard. A worker must labour otherwise he ceases to be a worker and has no claim to a worker’s rights. We are going to do our best in the future also. But this trouble was not unexpected It was anticipated by me. I told my colleagues. “No” they said, “we have done all this for labour.” They did not assess that there would be forces who would mislead workers because it was in the interest of their dialectical creed to do so. This has happened historically everywhere that reforms have come. It has happened in our times. But we did not go back on our labour policy; we will never go back on it. It is not possible. If we believe in democracy we cannot turn our hacks to the poor man. There is no question of having any unholy marriage with the industrialist class or others. If they misbehave, they will be taken to task. But why should I allow myself to he criticized for running an inefficient government? We overcame the labour trouble efficiently. Finally, they should know that people have reached the end of their tether. I waited for the people to feel disgusted. We had to be lenient tactically, and they took that as a sign of weakness. It was not. I wanted the people to realize that this kind of thing was being unreasonable. When, according to my assessment, the people got fed up, then I had to give workers the warning that the nation is tired of these antics. I said to them, don’t get misled by these forces because they want that kind of turmoil, although it does not serve their interests also. When the warnings were not heeded then we had to act sharply and quickly. We should not be criticized for being efficient.
Interviewer: You can’t say what you said about establishing democracy here, because you have also arrested several political leaders and I understand you have cracked down on some newspapers.
President: In which democratic society have arrests not taken place in times of crisis, in times of trouble, in times of chaos? You can’t run a democracy by putting paint on your nails. I am not a blockhead running the country. We have to be firm. People have a right to speak. They have a right to make speeches. They have a right to go out and express their point of view even on Bangladesh. When have I arrested people who said that we should not recognize Bangladesh? But when they say that they will over-throw this Government, break down the walls of the President’s House, well, that is something you can’t do democratically. That you can only do undemocratically. And if these people then expect that under the cover of democracy they can violate each and every law of the land and get away with it, they are wrong. Don’t forget our country was known as West Pakistan. How did you run the Wild West? We have partly a tribal society. Just now two days ago, Marris got into their heads that they can raid Quetta and go and eat cakes and all that Sort of things. Now what should I do? Proclaim Jeffersonian edicts there? We have to tell the tribesmen, “Young chaps, go back to the mountains, don’t go and raid Quetta.” We have highlanders, all these people who are happy with the gun. They have that Wild West mentality. You went to the West and gave them democracy. But you had to sometimes carry the big stick. In the democratic dispensation, the courts are open; the Assemblies are there; public meetings are permitted; and the most sensitive issue today is Bangladesh; if I don’t arrest people on that, then you know I am arresting people for violation of the law of the land.
Interviewer: Your country having been cut in half after a long period, when East and West Pakistan were one and there was a balance of power between Pakistan and India, do you believe that this concept of balance of power has been shattered with the dismemberment of Pakistan?
President: No, if I had believed in that, I would not have said to you that we find it a provocation or an irritant in the use of the expression ‘dominant power’. Then I would have felt that it was correct and we need have no complex about it. I know there were two states in the, subcontinent, which were regarded as equals but today they think that there are three. I know Pakistan is a reduced country. We are no longer the Holy Roman Empire. But I am confident that, given time, we will emerge stronger than we were before 1971.
Interviewer: In what teens?
President: In terms of our economic growth, in terms of our per capita income, in terms of the difference that you will see when you come to Pakistan and then go to India and to Bangladesh. We will be ahead of them. I am not talking in belligerent terms. I am talking in terms of what I want to do, the great dreams, seeing roads being built, schools coming up, beautiful cities being built, people getting education free to the extent possible, getting medical treatment free, building hospitals. Our people are sturdy, they are very hard-working, they are not afraid of work; they can use the tractor; they can use the machine; they are innovators. So we have first class material. At one time we were called the most unnatural state in the subcontinent. Today we are the most natural state in the subcontinent. Bangladesh is an unnatural state now, because half of the Bengali-speaking population is in India and the other half in Bangladesh, as Mujibur Rahman has set up a kind of a racist state in Bangladesh. There is a fascism there on a narrow ethnic basis which compels the throwing away of non-Bengalis. But half of that ethnic group is on the other side. India has so many Bangladeshes behind every bush. As you sow, so shall you reap. When you will come back, as I told some other friends of mine, a few years from now, if I am still around, I will show you the difference.
Interviewer: This means that Pakistan has a very great role to play in the subcontinent.
President: Yes, a big, constructive role to play.
Interviewer: Do you see Pakistan playing a role in the international affairs or in the subcontinent?
President: As we grow, yes. Ideas can be thrown out by the smallest of states. Any country can throw up an idea; make a suggestion make a proposal, suggest a formula in the United Nations. When people get stuck on something, some Malta can get up and point the way out. That is the kind of role we visualize. I think that with our industrial and agricultural growth, with our foreign exchange earnings going up, with our economic power, we can play a role. Japan plays a role. I am not comparing Pakistan with Japan. She is an economic giant. I have been criticized for two expressions. One is the thousand-year war which I have discussed. The other was calling the Japanese an ‘economic animal’, originally a metaphorical expression. I must go and apologize to the Japanese one day because I did not mean any disrespect by it. Japan and Germany have started playing a political role. First, we have to emerge as an economic power. We are striving to do so. The greatest potential is provided here. We have to be a little lucky if we find a little bit of oil. Everyone says there is. And also we have got minerals. We will make all out efforts to exploit these deposits.
Interviewer: Still being hurt very much by the burden of an army which was built up for both wings, do you envisage whether it should be cut down as You are trying to develop your economy?
President: If we had no unresolved problems with India, if we had settled our problems with India. Talking theoretically, if tomorrow we could make a big reduction, we would not just make a jump into progress. We would catch it by the throat. This wheat problem which we are facing, I wish, I could give free wheat throughout to the people in the cities. But I can’t do that. We are on the horns of a dilemma where we have to reconcile the needs of development with defence. But I hope one day we can settle our relations with India on an amicable basis. That of course is a distant dream today. But we must not abandon it. The vision of peace with disarmament in the subcontinent must guide our objectives. But in that disarmed subcontinent the Tai Mahal of tomorrow will be built in Pakistan.
Interviewer: Are you saying that you will not try to cut the army without India doing it also?
President: Without the settlement of disputes with India. Interviewer: You think if disputes with India are settled you will not have the problem of keeping a big army.
President: On second thoughts, may be if Mrs. Gandhi is around, we might see that day come sooner. She did display courage and vision at Simla. But if it was left to some others, it never would have happened.
Interviewer: Do you envisage, after the Simla Accord, a settlement coming from them in the coining months?
President: The Indians say it also, so that they can pressurize us. They say the Simla spirit is finished. But it has not evaporated; it is there. It will come through. A second round of meeting with Mrs. Gandhi will take place.