Interview with Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
Edited excerpts from the first interview, post-Thimphu, with Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
Karan Thapar did it for the programme ‘Devil's Advocate', broadcast over CNN-IBN on May 6:
On the Ajmal Kasab verdict:
Well, you've your judicial process and we'll have to respect each other's judicial process.
On Hafeez Saeed, and his call in Lahore for jihad in Kashmir and the liberation of Hyderabad:
We're not making excuses. Hafeez Saeed was picked up and arrested twice by the Government of Pakistan. The courts in Pakistan did not feel the evidence provided to them was legally tenable or sufficient and the let him off. And the judiciary is independent.
[What he demanded in Lahore] is not government policy. Individuals all over the world make statements and we respect freedom of expression. But government policy and the stated policy of Pakistan is to have good neighbourly relations with India.
On the Jamaat-ud-Dawa operating openly in Pakistan:
The Government of Pakistan has taken … every necessary step to, first of all, proscribe the organisation, secondly to freeze their assets and do everything possible to discourage what they are distributing. But, as you know, in every society there are all sorts of people.
On evidence with India that serving officers of the Pakistan Army are connected with 26/11:
In interactions that I have had, nobody has raised this issue with me so far. When the issue is raised, we'd look at it with an open mind.
We've invited the Home Minister, Mr. Chidambaram, to visit us in Islamabad for the SAARC Home Ministers' conference, and if he wants he can have a meeting with his counterparts on the sidelines and he can raise all these issues.
On Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square bomb bid suspect:
Mr. Shahzad is not a Pakistani citizen anymore. He's an American citizen. He's a naturalised American citizen… The Government of Pakistan will cooperate with the U.S. and help in whatever way we can… Citizens and individuals of various nationalities have been identified and have been arrested and picked up from different places in the world, not just Pakistanis.
On the impression that Pakistan is a terrorist factory:
We're not claiming to be fighting terrorists or terrorism; the world acknowledges our fight. They acknowledge the sacrifice the people of Pakistan and the armed forces of Pakistan have made. They acknowledge the successful operations we've had in Swat, Malakand and the tribal belt. And in Waziristan, we've had a very successful operation in South Waziristan and we're moving on according to our plan.
On the meeting between the Pakistani and Indian Prime Ministers in Thimphu:
I think the spirit in Thimphu has to be kept alive. That's the only sensible way forward. The two Prime Ministers agreed and they reiterated their commitment for a resolution of issues through dialogue. They both acknowledged that dialogue is the only way forward. Yes, there'll be difficulties and hiccups, but we've to move on. We've a much bigger agenda and we should not let any individual, non-state actor or terrorist organisation impede the peace process. We should develop it to such an extent that it becomes irreversible.
I think both sides would acknowledge the fact that there is a trust deficit. The Prime Ministers have asked the two Foreign Ministers to bridge that trust deficit. I've certain proposals which I'm going to share with Mr. S.M. Krishna when I get an opportunity to meet with him.
I would want [that opportunity to come] as early as possible, but I believe he's busy in the Budget session. As soon as the session is over, I'm going to call him and I'm going to propose a number of dates for our engagement… I intend to invite him to Islamabad, but … if he is [pre]occupied and he cannot come, then I have no issue in coming to Delhi.
On the handling of the Kashmir issue:
Where there's a will there's a way, and we acknowledge amongst ourselves that Kashmir is an outstanding issue between the two countries.
But in my view we can make progress through peaceful negotiations. We've undertaken and we've in place a number of confidence-building measures vis-a-vis Kashmir. We can build further on them.