Posted by: Administrator | 20 January, 2008

Agra Summit – Editors For Breakfast

Full transcript of the General’s Breakfast Meeting with Indian Print and Electronic Media Agra.
 
 
Opening Statement
First of all let me say it is indeed my pleasure to be in the company of such luminaries as the High Commissioner is saying and that certainly you are. I see most of you or have heard most of you or read most of you, so it is really my pleasure indeed that you have joined me for this breakfast. I am grateful to my High Commissioner who arranged this breakfast , meeting.
I think this is a very historic event that we are passing through. We can, I would say, really convert it into a historic one for India and Pakistan. And I have certainly come here with this idea that we need to convert our relations, we need to turn the comer, we need to certainly improve our relations for the sake of this region. I am extremely conscious that this is the only region which is economically deprived, which is not collaborating for economic well-being of the people, and all this happening because of just one thing i.e. the Indo-Pak conflict, the Indo-Pak differences, tensions. So therefore, quite clearly any sane person would like this conflict or differences or tensions: removed. 

I come here with this in mind. But I today would like to emphasize one thing certainly which must be understood and which is nothing great that I am saying. Every country has its principles, has its stands, has its dignity and honour to guard. In this regard we do understand India is the biggest country. India is the most populous country but Pakistan is not a small country We are also at I think 6th or 7th position in the world.

But the point I would like to make is that whether small or big every country has its honour and dignity to guard and I may like to add that it falls upon the bigger partner to ensure the honour and dignity of the smaller partners to be guarded. Now the other point I would like to make is that I try to be a realist. I do not believe in living in a make believe world. We must confront realities as they are. We must not brush them under the carpet or like an ostrich live in its own world, not seeing what is happening around or presuming or imagining that we are not seeing what is happening around. I don’t believe in this because I feel that if we do not face issues squarely, frontally, if we do not catch the bull by the horns and we don’t put the horse before the cart we hardly can move forward. 

If we keep sticking to our own positions rigidly we cannot move forward. So, therefore there is a degree of flexibility, open-mindedness, understanding of each other’s problems, that is the pre-requisite for any forward movement. Another thing that I would like to say about myself is that I believe in a sincere and an honest way of approaching things. I do believe in saying what I mean or saying, may I say, what I am thinking. So as I said in the past I do believe in maintaining balance between the mind, the heart and the tongue. What talk anywhere I mean it and I am prepared to face whatever I talk. So the issues which we will talk about are extremely important.

Having said that if we see the reality on ground, what is the reality that I am talking of ladies and gentlemen! Let’s not remain in any illusion that the main issue confronting us is Kashmir. I am not saying anything which is unrealistic or imaginary. That is the reality on ground whether we like it or not. There may be some compulsions on your part not to talk about it. There are definite compulsions on my part that I must talk about it, on Pakistan’s part. So if India expects that I should ignore Kashmir then I better buy the Nehrvali Haveli back and stay there. 

So these are the facts of the matter. So what is the move forward. We spent 50 years fighting each other. I was extremely sorry when I heard day before yesterday a very old parents looking for their son who they think is a POW in Pakistan since 71. We would be mad to retain a POW for thirty years. I am a soldier. I would be the first man to release a POW if I know where a POW is. We have our own mothers. We have lost children in wars with you. So we understand and most of all I understand. I am a man in uniform. I have seen my officers and my soldiers die. So I certainly have sympathy with any parents who many have lost their son. So on that issue I will go back and personally get involved because I know that previously people have looked around and even a delegation went from here but still you are not believing and this issue is again and again being raised by you. So I said I will look into it and only then I will give a verdict that they are not there. Now if after that somebody keeps disbelieving me or Pakistan, it is just bad luck. There is no way of proving it otherwise. But I will certainly, irrespective of whatever talks are on this issue of POWs will personally look into it.

Now I digress from the main subject. Why such sad stories. Where did this POW come from. What was the issue involved. Why this human tragedy? This human tragedy is because of Kashmir. We have fought wars on Kashmir. What else we have fought wars over. You keep talking of Kargil. People keep talking of Siachen. What. is all this. Its all Kashmir. What is happening on the LOC? What is happening in the valley? Its all Kashmir. Where else is anything happening? So if I say we need to resolve this issue, I know you, are extremely sensitive, extremely allergic to the word ‘dispute’ .I really don’t know why. I think it very much is a dispute. But, however, OK lets find some other word for it. Its certainly a dispute but in deference to your views I will call it an issue. OK, its an issue but if anyone says no its not an issue that is wrong.

Let me talk of your media which am seeing for the last two three days. Whenever I have time I switch on TV and watch it. I was seeing your Information Minister talk on the TV and she was talking of every thing. She spoke of everything. She said that the Prime Minister, myself and the delegation spoke of cross border terrorism, nuclear issue, POW issue, but she did not say a word on Kashmir. She did not speak on Kashmir. Ladies and Gentlemen! , the most part of the meeting was spent on discussing Kashmir. So I am just wondering where are we? What we want to do? Should we end up. I keep :,. talking of Kashmir. You keep talking of cross border terrorism and confidence building. What confidence building? CB is the issue of Kashmir. That is the biggest confidence building measure. Is a CBM possible when we are fighting just across the border and killing each other and have CBM on opening the routes, trade, economy, culture. How can this be? Is this practical? I think its just not practical. I can’t live in this make believe world. I can’t live in this illusion. That’s what I said. I said I try to be a realist. Lets see the realities. I am not saying anything which is not real. I am not saying a word which is wrong.

So. this is what you as media people should see. I feel maybe there is some restraint on the media, on government personalities here, on use of word Kashmir or even discussing it, talking of it. I am really reasonably sure that there is a constraint. We don’t even want to address it. We don’t want to talk about it. So this is the reality. I think now I personally feel that the time is there, an environment has been built, a hype has been created because of this visit, not only in Pakistan and India but the worldwide and I think the public of India, may I say, and also the public in Pakistan really are looking for a move forward and a solution to our problems. And I think this is the right environment, I am reasonably sure of the need on both countries to address the core issues. They will go along on this I am sure.

Addressing the issue is not easy for me also. One must know. There are differences of opinion in Pakistan also, where some people are against this peaceful dialogue process and friendship with India. So I am prepared to move forward because I know 100% consensus will never be achieved. But I also at the same time expect that here the public should be told that the main issue between Pakistan and India is Kashmir . And also that I’ve never said that I refuse to talk’ on any 9ther issue. I’ve never said it. Please don’t project it on. the media. All that I’ve been saying is please understand Kashmir is the main issue, and I will carryon saying it whether anyone agrees or not. Because this is what we have killed each other for, and as I said I know much more than anyone else because I have fought the two wars. 

I’ve been in the Northern areas everywhere. In the sun I know what it is when one fights. So this is the issue. The public is prepared to accept that yes this is the issue. I am sure they are not going to create a hue and cry on our calling the Kashmir the issue and why are we trying to say that we want to resolve it. But if we have some kind of a constraint or restraint in our own minds then I am afraid it is very difficult to move forward. 

But however, I am saying as I learn in diplomacy through’ my Foreign Minister, Foreign Secretary and the High Commissioner, never close the door even in shut diplomacy. We will not close the door certainly. We must always continue with this process of dialogue which has been initiated very well, the dialogue which has been extremely fruitful, I must say, and is still going on. My meeting with the Prime Minister Vajpayee, I respect him, I honour him for his dignity, for his statesmanship, the decision that he took to invite me, the initiation of the dialogue process and also the understanding that he shows towards our concerns and, the dignity, the method, the way that he adopts to put across his own views. 

But we need to translate all that into some form, and that we are trying to do. You have to pray that ‘we’ succeed. I have to meet the Prime Minister again. There was an interaction at the officials level at night, till very late, I think till four 0′ clock in the morning. These interactions are taking place. I cannot say anything more than that. Certain things have to be ironed out and I believe they can be ironed out by me and the Prime Minister. I am an optimist. I will always remain an optimist. Lets hope for the best. I thank you very much.

Chandan Mitra: You have been saying that Kashmir is the core issue. It is the issue, OK fine. But can this really give us anything unless a solution is opted. So till we know what is the solution that you have in mind for this dispute mere recognition of the fact that this is a dispute will not probably get us anywhere. Could we hear you once again?

Musharraf: Yes, certainly we should not at this stage, get bogged down in getting involved in the solutions because then we would not proceed further. What I would like to say is one can’t Jump from the first zero run to 10 run. Lets go step by step. Step one was the initiation of the dialogue and again I would like to give all the credit to Prime Minister Vajpayee for his statesmanship, for having invited me. This is a great act, a courageous and a bold step. I recognise it: That was step one. Now step two. I feel this acceptance that Kashmir is an issue, it must be resolved, and may I say when I say it must be resolved obviously there are three parties to it. It is Pakistan India and also Kashmiris. Can we resolve Kashmir if we decide to resolve it without their wishes, without some way of ascertaining their views? Can we do something for them over their heads? So this acceptance of the main issue is step two. One can then after entering into dialogue move further. This requires just boldness and courage to accept the reality. Nothing more than that. This is not such a difficult step to take. This is the reality. You just accept the reality. Then we are entering now into troubled waters. I do understand that we are entering now into the area: of what is the solution. How do we move forward. This I feel we all know and I don’t want to discuss the solution. There are a number of solutions, but maybe at the step two one could negate certain solutions if possible. Obviously national consensus will be required. Can we negate certain solutions that these are not the solutions? Would one keep saying stated positions and all that lets leave this.

So negation of some solutions, if possible, again national consensus as I said is required on both sides. For me, I would like to take the nation along, and certainly this is required by Mr. Vajpayee also. Having done that we have come a little, one more run forward and then we go on to discussing, OK. negate it. Now in the area that we are left with, .are the possibilities. So I think these are the steps. Step one we have taken. Step two, I would say, can be taken today. Step three can be taken later and step four will be more later. That’s what I have to say.

Malini Parthasarthy: If you are moving toward a mechanism of the dialogue, the way you are, it does not let you, what to talk of step two, take effect. But if you are moving towards a mechanism like a joint working group or something, would not that help to focus subject towards making headway in this direction?

Yes certainly it can. But as I said this is step two, I am calling step one, I hope you are on the same grid on steps. Step one is what we have initiated. Step two is the acceptance of the issue, the reality. I said that can be taken immediately, that can be taken. today. But if you are asking if that facilitates step three?

The mechanism, yes, the step forward.

Certainly in this acceptance of reality we must also include what is the way forward. A structure, for a process of dialogue, future dialogue and also, may I say, may be we need to put urgency required if! whatever want to do if we want to move on a fast track. So the structure is required, an urgency should be agreed on. That is how we proceed and we will come to step III then.

I wanted to say that there is another theory. I don’t know whether you have considered it or not. There were certain Acts which led to the Partition of British India, and two separate countries— India and Pakistan—came into being. Under this Act the states were given certain choices what to do and whom to join, whether they should join India or Pakistan. What do you think of this Act. Didn’t Kashmir become a part of India under this very Act.

A. We are getting involved in contentious issues.

Q. I told you the theory?

A. Certainly. UN has a ruling over this. In the 1948 Resolution Kashmir is recognised to be a dispute which needs to be resolved through .plebiscite. That is very clear. We say that we should stick to this Resolution. We want to stick to self-determination and plebiscite. This is an international resolution and India agreed to this. Right up to 1958 we were, in agreement on that, if I am not wrong. Is that correct? In 1958 we heard that no, Kashmir is a part of India. Otherwise right for over ten years this was an accepted dispute which had to be resolved through plebiscite and self-determination.

Vinod Mehta: Mr. President, I just wanted to reassure you, and I think I speak for everybody in the media that there are no institutional constraints in discussions on Kashmir in the media. We often use your favourite word when it comes to Kashmir here in the media when we say that it is the core issue. We use it quite frequently. There is a wide variety of opinions on Kashmir in the Indian media. Perhaps you have not had the opportunity to see that but I think we are a step ahead of the Indian Government in that respect. The thing that I really wanted to ask you is that would you be satisfied in this Summit if step one was taken and formalised in some way, if we accepted your views, supposing we also use the word ‘main issue’, formalise the joint working group, you are meeting with the Prime Minister of India in September-October, he accepted your invitation, would you wait or you want step-two to be taken in Agra today? Would you be satisfied if a complex step- one wherein a negotiating process, a dialogue process was started. Step-two Mr. President is going to initially cause problems. You are a great realist. I think if in the Summit we can agree on a dialogue, have an elaborate dialogue you can even suggest a time- frame, working group, whatever it is, and perhaps if you can leave stage-II to September-October meeting you are likely to have with our Prime Minister?

You mean acceptance of the issue or the ‘main issue’ or core issue’, are you talking about that?

Vinod Mehta: We concede that Kashmir is the main issue between us. Nobody is questioning that.

I hope the government agrees with your statement. Yes I will be happy with that if we accept, if we give a framework where we accept the reality on ground. We accept what the issue is and have a framework. I will be satisfied. Now these steps are confusing. Are you. talking of the negation part? I accept what you say. I am saying step two is accepting what you are saying. In step one I have given the credit to the Prime Minister for inviting me.

Shekhar Gupta: Let me have a clarification of my own. On behalf of all of us I say that not only there are no constraints an any of us on saying anything about Kashmir ever. We say this being very. honourable journalists that never, ever in my 25 years of reporting most troubled problems of India have I felt the, restraint and none of us has. The second thing is that please don’t take us so seriously. Our government does not take us so seriously so it is very rare that our government and we agree on anything. We think we have more wisdom than all the rest of them as all journalists do and they think we are fools. So I think it is very difficult to apply the understanding that you see .. 

OK.

Nalini Singh: Mr. President I want to take this discussion a little bit away from step-one, step two or whatever you have in mind because you have been articulating your positions in the various interviews. I have two brief questions. 

have been articulating it so much, so much that even I sometimes say that why I keep harping on the same thing but unfortunately that is the issue. That is why one has to even embarrass himself.

Dilip Padgaonkar: Now, here listening to you just now one does not quite know how your talks with the PM have gone. You mentioned all kinds of qualities about the Prime Minister, his statesmanship etc. but how would you describe the substantive portion of your discussion with the Prime Minister, point number one. Point two is would it be accurate on our part after listening to you that this visit is not going to end the way we expected it to, which is with some movement forward?

As I spoke about the steps and I said the best is to identify the issues to be negated. Here I would like to just identify the issues, that they are positive, and that we will certainly continue with the dialogue process in future, will continue to address the issues involved, and our mutual stands. Other than this it would be premature to give a statement because I have still to go and meet the PM and we have still some work left to be done. Therefore I would not be able to comment on that. The positive side is that certainly we will keep talking in the future.

Dilip Padgaonkar? Are there any reasons to be optimist?

Again I think it would be rather premature if I say anything, we need to wait for the final dialogue.

Prem Shankar Jha:  This is a considerable opportunity for you. The reason I say this is that I am comparing what you have to say with actions rather than words. I think in the very act of inviting you, Mr .Vajpayee has conceded that Kashmir is a central issue. Its one thing whether you are saying a declaratory statement has its own reverberations and they are often wrong ones. They will create a backlash. That you do not have to make a statement, you can act. Actions will speak the same language. I would like to bear this in mind sir because I think this is the way that all of us have received it and this is why there is so much more. 

Second thing in your case also sir, accepting this invitation has signaled quite a sizeable degree of realism and flexibility in your approach to the progressive stages of trying to resolve this dispute. So given the extreme difficulty of a subject it is hardly surprising that at the delegation level the progress is very slow and I think personally that in fact in each of your meetings with Prime Minister Vajpayee you will be able to resolve one set of problems and I hope the actual concrete working out process one step further. 

This is going to take time and- therefore, I am not discussing this part two. I would request you not to pay too much attention to the speculation in the .media on this because due to lack of news, we have to make news. There are going to be many voices, I am sure, in your country and in our country also which will be speaking of the absence of news and I think that we should not pay much attention to that. 

But the central issue is, I do not believe that anyone in this country seriously thinks that Kashmir is not a central issue, a ‘core issue’. It is the main cause. We also have a long history of distrust regrettably and therefore, there is no certainty that even if this issue is resolved we are going to have amity in the future. But the kind of upwaking of sentiment that we have seen in both countries in the last two months and of which you have in fact done a great deal in Pakistan to help create that and we hope that it will come up. I feel that this is a process that can gather momentum, that it will carry us all away and I can give you credit for that.
Let me ask one more thing, you talked about big and small countries. Sir size is not important. The pre-requisite of any dialogue is a presumption in equality, and I think that from this mere fact that you are having this extended talks with Mr. Vajpayee, that requirement is met. 
 

 

Yes, I certainly would like to make a comment on one, the first aspect as you said that a lot of things can be implied. So we must understand the environment that is existing, the environment of mistrust, suspicion and I am sure you must be knowing the environment in Pakistan. I would very bluntly like to give out this environment. 

The people of Pakistan do not trust the Indian government, to put it very bluntly. And same is, maybe, the case on this side. I have no qualms about that. But the issue is that the people of Pakistan think that we are purposely denied, there is a design behind not saying that Kashmir is an issue. So therefore, to allay these fears of the I people, the suspicions that are so engraved and deep set we have to come out openly to say these things. Otherwise I can assure you when I go back those who are extremist in their t views they will say we are not interested because they say that the strategy is to buy time and then kill the issue. Call them for , negotiations, buy time. 

This is the strategy and don’t address the issue and may be the issue subsides and that is all. This is the suspicion there, so we need to kill the suspicion by coming into open that yes this is an issue. We will address it and we will try to resolve it amicably in the interest of both the peoples and both the countries. This suspicion part is very important r because even on words like “dispute” there is such a diplomacy. In. diplomacy each and every word has to weigh. Now you don’t want to use the word dispute. I fail to understand why this is so. Is this not a dispute?  Dispute is always between the two people. If somebody insists the more that no this. is a problem, I will feel suspicious myself if he is trying to tell me no you are not concerned, this is my problem. And dispute is usually between the two people. So I think by all definitions this is a dispute. OK I give in, I will call it an issue. But look where we are. We can’t even agree to a word that this is a dispute. So how can we go forward when you are not saying it a dispute? How can we move forward with this mindset?

Prabhu Chawla: Step-two has two components if I am correct. They say that you accept first that Kashmir is a main issue and not dispute. Number two there are three parties into it. It is part of the step-two that you have to insist in your statement that OK this is not only a dispute but a dispute which involves three parties Pakistan, India and Kashmiri people. Is that the part of that composite statement that you are recommending?

I think these are nuances which need to be addressed frankly with the Foreign Minster, Foreign Secretary, and they are doing. As long as we understand each other’s compulsions and we also take the reality. I stated a reality. This is a reality. Lets not pin down to the subject of what the substance should .be. One would like to keep it open. You see there is a way of putting things. As long as it is put in a manner which is sort out, acceptable, we need to frame it in a manner that can be acceptable. These things can be certainly looked into later how it should be included in step two. But I don’t want to get involved into the details.

Two parties to the dispute—India and Pakistan—are already there. If we exclude the third party then can there be some solution?

We cannot exclude them permanently. I am talking about a permanent solution. If you are trying to issue a declaration, the declaration is not for all times to come. It is for today, or for two weeks or for a year or so. So that way we need to have a framework which is for all times to come. So far, we have not insisted that there should be Kashmiris in our talks. We said OK we agree that we will talk without them. But we must understand sometime or the other they have to be involved. That is all that I am saying. 

Some other time, in the next meeting or after that if we progress they will have to be involved, specially if we progress on the issue of Kashmir. In the initial stages of the dialogue where we are identifying the issue, their involvement is not required but if we move towards a solution then don’t you think their involvement will be required? That’s what I am saying. So lets put it in the framework in such a manner that futuristically we accept that when we move forward towards a solution, then their involvement will be required essentially. Otherwise, it will not be implementable because, maybe, they don’t want it. So, therefore, it is the requirement.

Mr. President, last night around midnight there was a statement issued by the Pakistani spokesperson which said referring to the statement of the Information Broadcasting Minister of India which said that, the gist was that until Kashmir is taken up and now I am quoting ‘until it is discussed and resolved that this is the main issue’. Now I just want to ask you sir, is it, are we saying that you wish to have it discussed or also you wish to have it discussed and resolved and prior to that nothing else can be discussed. You have mentioned poverty. Can we go ahead on things like that? Can we equally today start on something which is to do with non-Kashmir, also in action?

Yes, certainly. Again I reiterate, absolutely. We can address all issues, having identified the main issue but then another suspicion in Pakistan is that they always involve us in other issues, brushing the main issues aside and then start leading others. This happened with Dr. Mahboob-ul-Haque. He came here with President Zia. And I believe he was a very dynamic man and may be the finance minister here was equally dynamic and they started moving very fast on trade and commerce and economic activity. Whereas this political activity remained at zero point wherever it was. They had to come back, we had to come back. Where are you going? Every thing stopped and every thing fizzled out. So, therefore, we start together, we are open but we must progress in tandem. All issues must make progress. You cannot, no leader in Pakistan can allow the sidelining of Kashmir for the sake of economy and confidence building and nuclear and every thing. They have to progress in tandem. There has to be a relationship to keep progressing on all issues together.

Vir Sanghvi:  People of Pakistan don’t trust the government of India. I think that is a reality and I am glad that you have brought it up. Can I give you something from our perspective? The people of India, perhaps feel differently about the government of Pakistan and one reason why there is so much mistrust is because of what we see as the failure at the Lahore Summit. We see the Lahore Summit failing because of Kargil. We see Kargil as having been a betrayal and unfortunately, we see you as having been an architect of that betrayal. What is your perspective on this?

Yes, you raised an issue. The first thing on which I want to comment. In fact, this was in Asia News, what you are saying, of trust on people here, on the government, people trusting the government. I was seeing the television last evening and it was Asia News. There was a lady, who said that if this man can be trusted. 

I think I would like to tell this woman that this should have been asked before this man was  invited here. And it hurt me. Traditionally, we Pakistanis and Indians, are very hospitable. We talk to the guests in a civilized ~ manner. It really hurt me.

You have talked of Kargil. If you see history, I don’t know, there is a tendency to stop at KargiI. If we look at history , I know there is a lot of pain that has been caused on Kargil. And I am supposed to be Kargil man. Well, I was the Chief of Staff and there was a government in Pakistan and the army does certain things in a certain way. And obviously there were the Mujahideen. Kargil had its own dynamics. However, I would want to leave that. 

I would like to tell you how much hurt do you think was caused when in 1971 the Mukti Bahani, who had been trained, supported and armed by India and were sent into East Pakistan.

How much hurt did it cause in Pakistan when in violation of the Simla Accord the Indian Army intruded into Siachen? How much hurt and indignity was caused to us? So let’s leave history because there has been hurts caused by both sides accusing each other. So, therefore, I think it will be in the fitness of things that we forget the past and move forward. I have always been saying that. 

We need to move forward with the understanding that all those pains and hurts have been caused due to Kashmir. And we are not prepared to address the Kashmir issue. So let’s address the Kashmir issue and resolve it once and for all so that these things don’t happen, do not recur. That is all I would like to say. So whereas I understand how you are feeling about Kargil, but you must come and see what Pakistanis feel about 1971 and Siachen also.

M.J.Akbar: Mr.President, on Kashmir, just a small reiteration. Last evening I was on a channel which no one watches any more, thanks to Prannoy Roy. That happens to be Door Darshan. And for two hours we had been pictured, myself and Inder Gujral. There was nothing else but Kashmir discussed. So we certainly have changed the agenda here in terms of our public discussions. But here the most significant part of your visit has been your conscious visit to Mahatama Ghandhi Samadhi and your Banquet speech in which you made certain things that just as a human being you know I welcomed very much, your reiteration that this problem cannot be solved by violence. You talk of the future you talked of next generation. But I just want an answer to a simple question. Is your commitment to the absence of violence or the non use of violence conditional upon progress or are you committed to a non use of violence irrespective of whether we hear good news in four hours or not?

That is. We are not encouraging any violence in Kashmir. This is an indigenous freedom struggle going on. You keep calling it terrorism and violence. We in Pakistan, keep calling it a freedom struggle. Who is right, who is wrong? We keep saying that there are atrocities and repression against the civilians by the Indian army of over 600,00 people. So where do we land up?

Yes, these are issues which must be addressed. These issues, I am sure, and all the issues, whether it is the repression by the Indian forces which we say and the cross border terrorism which is always mentioned from this side. In tandem every thing proceeds further with the progress on Kashmir. That is how I feel because I am sure the progress on Kashmir will certainly have its effects, and indirect effects on what ever is happening in Kashmir.

Rajat Sharma: Mr. President your hurt and anger which is quite apparent, is primarily, (maybe) because of the Indian Information Minister that what you heard and what did some one else say in this regard. I want to say a couple of things to you. One, that keep media separate from the government because here what media says and what government says there is not much connection between the two. And second, what you said about constraints. Shekhar also said the same thing. I would like to tell you once again that here there are no constraints on media. And it is because of it that you are praising Mr. Vajpayee’s statesmanship but you seem overtly hurt as far as the media is concerned. The simple reason is that government does not have any sort of control on media. Whatever the media says or does, it is its own thinking. You will read as much in media on cross-border terrorism as on the question of army. No one has ever put any constraints on media, neither has the media, entirely on its own, placed any sort of self- imposed constraints. Therefore, when we talk of the Kashmir dispute then obviously a question springs up in the minds of people over here, and the media over here-the question that M.J. (Akbar) had also raised, whether the terrorism will end or not. Now you can call it terrorism or freedom struggle. But the point is whether the bloodshed will stop or not? And in order to stop the bloodshed whether the government of Pakistan will take initiative or not ? This is the basic concern of the media.

Exactly, this is the whole thing. Tell me about the bloodshed, on both sides as a result of which army men are being killed, civilians are being killed. Can this be stopped? Why is this happening? This is happening because of the Kashmir dispute. Can anyone expect this bloodshed to stop and yet expect the Kashmir dispute to stay intact. Is this realistic? 

Ok. Ok. I am saying this so that it should end. It should end, absolutely. Who dares say that the bloodshed should go on, fighting should go on and the killing should go on. Only an extremist could harbour these sort of views. So f say it should end. But it will end only when we will go hand in hand, expand the issues and go towards a solution. It will de-escalate automatically because when we will solve the problem then why people will fight over there. This is my view point. If your question is that it should end, it should end. But if you are under the impression that ‘it will end and Kashmir problem will stay intact then this is not practical. Therefore, we should keep abreast of each other. This is what I am saying.

One more thing that I wanted to say earlier that media might have hurt your at some stage. But by and large the perception is that media has welcomed you extraordinarily (zaroorat se zyaadaa, more than necessary)

I acknowledge. Exactly. I am extremely grateful to the Indian media for all the projection, all the warmth and hospitality and a lot of other things that I am viewing. That I have quoted one or two incidents, don’t think that I am speaking against the entire media. I have not been able to meet the entire media. The fifteen to twenty minutes that are available to me, I meet the press in that particular time.

Sir, fine. The way you have frankly discussed the Kashmir issue with the Indian media, even the Indian government has not discussed it with us in that manner.

That is what I am saying that they don’t want to discuss the Kashmir issue.

Prannoy Roy: Right, sir. I think all of us have been impressed and taken the message that you are a soldier, you have, come here and you know what it feels like to, fight a war. And that you, have a great concern for the people of Kashmir and the will of the people of Kashmir. There are two questions which are often brought to us, which I think I should put to you and perhaps you could answer them. One refers to, you condemn the security forces in Kashmir and some of their actions against civilians. What about innocent people at a bus stop and the militants bomb killing them? You know soldiers fighting soldiers. You appreciate that, that’s part of your life. Militants fighting security forces that is part of a soldier’s life. But an innocent person at the hands of militants dying. And that is what the people of Kashmir face every day. I would like to have your view on that. And second, on the will of the people. A lot of people say that your concern for the will of the people of Kashmir is understandable. But you are a soldier and you have not been elected in Pakistan. So without the will of the. people of Pakistan how are you so concerned about the will of the people of some where else. These are the questions that are often raised.

Yes, on the first one I would say any casualty to civilians is deplorable.  

But at the same time I would like to say if we see history and see history of all freedom struggles around the world there is lot of innocent bloodshed. If we see what is happening in Palestine, the same story. If you look at any freedom struggle anywhere around the world, its history, there is so much of suffering of innocents and that is applying in Kashmir also, unfortunately. Nobody can support it. Not body, obviously. I will be out of my mind to say that I support it. But again the same repeat deduction that one gets. In army when we talk of appreciation we say that it is a premise which. has a particular deduction.

You have talked of the premise what have you deducted from it? The deduction is that we should solve the Kashmir problem and every thing will be alright. 

Now the other issue is about my legitimacy. Although it is an internal affair of Pakistan, but since you have raised the question I will reply. Things happened on 12th October. I did not take over, really. I was thrust into this position by my predecessor. I need to thank him for that for the sake of Pakistan. Because I think in the interest of Pakistan this was required I was not required may be. But his going was certainly required. That was the demand of the entire people of Pakistan, every individual in Pakistan. So in the interest of Pakistan whatever change was thrust on me was welcomed by the people of Pakistan. And I can with total confidence say that majority of the people of Pakistan support me on whatever I am doing. 

If you come to Pakistan and find out what is happening, I am sure you must have studied or analyzed. But you do visit us. Let me give you a briefing on what we are doing in Pakistan. You come there and look around in any department of governance in Pakistan, whether it is economy, whether it is governance, whether it is education, whether it is poverty alleviation, you talk of any thing. Whether it is the government corporations, whether, it is the railways or WAPDA or KESC. You tell me what you want and I will send you there and you ask them what has happened in the last one and a half years in any sphere of activity. 

I leave it open as a challenge to you. Now having said that I certainly will like to I am going to hold the elections next year. And we have started the process where the local government is coming up. You need to analyze what this local government is. It is going to bring a revolutionary change. 

The real democracy is now being introduced by me in Pakistan. Democracy never existed in Pakistan before this. So this is all what is happening which is In the Interest of Pakistan. So I know that the Pakistanis are .very satisfied with what is happening and I will do every thing in Pakistan’s interest.

Now, Mr. President. You rightly said that Kashmir is the core issue or the main issue between India and Pakistan and unless Kashmir is resolved there can be no, I mean friendship between the two countries. But gradually both India and Pakistan are looking at Kashmir as a territorial dispute between the two countries. They are not taking the people into consideration. Primarily there, is only one party to the Kashmir dispute and that is the people of Jammu and Kashmir State. And they should have freedom to decide not only that whether they want to join India or Pakistan, there are other options open to them. It should be left to them. In fact, for that purpose I think if you want to proceed to resolve the Kashmir crisis the right approach would be that you allow them instead of India harping on the theme of ‘Attoot Ang’ or Kashmir being life line of Pakistan. They should allow that the people of Jammu and Kashmir, not only the Hurriyat Conference or the people from the valley but people in all parts of Jammu and Kashmir , to have dialogue among themselves. There are people who live in those areas which are under Pakistan control or in which are under the Indian control. People from both the areas should be allowed to interact, to have a dialogue to evolve a consensus that what kind of future they desire for themselves and that rconsensus formula should be acceptable to both India and Pakistan. I think that is the only way, realistic way to resolve this crisis. Do not you agree with it?

Well, again these are ascertaining of views, what you are saying. This is a methodology of ascertaining of views of the people of Kashmir. And that is basically 1948 Resolution. That was the methodology of plebiscite and self-determination. Now these are solutions. This could be one solution and certainly I think this is quite a reasonable solution. If you ask Pakistan, if you were to tell the Pakistanis that we need to ascertain the views of the Kashmiris, I think everyone will agree. You. need to sell this idea here. No third option, I am reasonably sure with ascertaining of views. Let’s leave it at that, it is an important issue and one can go along with this. But this is one of the options which will come in step four as I would say. Let’s leave it at that. But this could be considered as one of the options. 

I am sorry, I would have loved to sit here and interact with you. And you are the luminaries as as the High Commissioner has said. I would have loved to sit down and talk to you for another few hours because this is a very interesting discussion going on but I think more important is my meeting with Prime Minister Vajpayee. And I need to talk there.

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