Pitching for composite dialogue

SYED YOUSUF RAZA GILANI: 'We need direct talks, we want to resolve issues...'-Photo: AP

SYED YOUSUF RAZA GILANI: 'We need direct talks, we want to resolve issues...'-Photo: AP  

It’s the first interview, Mr. Gilani, that you’re giving since 26-11. Indo-Pakistan ties deteriorated in 2009. [What’s] your hope for 2010?

When I met Dr. Manmohan Singh in Sharm-el-Sheikh, that was a very good meeting. We discussed all issues and we had an understanding that we both are suffering from terrorism and therefore 1.25 billion people should not be made hostage to one incident. If we are hostage to this incident, that means the beneficiary is the terrorist, therefore we should move ahead. We agreed that in the General Assembly there would be a meeting of the federal secretaries. That did take place. And then there was a meeting of the Foreign Ministers in the General Assembly during the session.

... Things are stuck with the Mumbai incident, and the matter is sub judice... Certainly we condemn terrorism and we believe that neither Pakistan’s nor India’s soil should be used against each other. We’re the victims of terrorism and we’re fighting the war on terrorism... I think composite dialogue is the only answer... We both are responsible nations... we can only move forward ... we cannot afford war... The people are very poor and we’ve to watch their interests... The only way forward is talks...

Do you see it materialising in the near future... in 2010?

I believe politics is a day-to-day affair, and I’m hopeful we will move forward for a composite dialogue.

After the IPL auctions did not take Pakistani players, there seems to be another downturn... Has Pakistan overreacted?

That’s the mood of Parliament and the public. We’ve to follow their point of view as well. With time things would be all right.

Your statement last week to the U.S. Defence Secretary that Pakistan cannot prevent another Mumbai-like attack...

My statement… was a reaction to some comments made by the Indian leadership — that if there is any incident in future we will bracket the non-state and state actors together and hold the government of Pakistan responsible. I was of the opinion that if there is any information we are ready to share [that] with India… that should pre-empt… And if India has any information, they can share with us... We’re ready to [do] any intelligence-sharing or any sort of information [exchange].

Are you saying there’re many groups you cannot control?

No, I’m saying, don’t bracket terror groups with the Government of Pakistan. If you’ve information it is better to share [it] with us so that we can jointly resolve the issue.

In past years, the kind of comments you’ve made... the kind of comments from the Indian leadership... something gets lost in translation... because the direct-dialogue process does not exist...

... We insist on a composite dialogue only because there are statements from both the countries… creating more confusion.

Fourteen months after Mumbai, the discourse is still stuck... What will it take to move it forward? India wants more concrete action on the 26/11 trial.

We had asked for further information so that we should strengthen the case. We’ve already registered the case, the matter is before the High Court, and if more material is given to us and more sharing is done with us, it’ll help...

India has handed over six dossiers...

We appreciate that, but at the same time we ask for something more. That you can discuss with the Ministry of Interior.

Pakistan is in denial that any of the attacks could have been by Pakistani nationals... That’s from where relations took a downturn... Pakistan could have looked at the nationality of the attackers, or held comments until they have been established...

There was the Mumbai incident, within a few minutes they said Pakistan was involved — without investigation. How can you jump at a conclusion when there is no investigation… that was our reaction.

It took months for Pakistan to establish the identity of the attackers.

We’re still asking for further information, and we condemn it. We’re extremely serious that it should be taken to justice and further information is shared with the Ministry of Interior.

Do you think India has been stalling…?

I haven’t said that. But at the same time, through the Foreign Office, the Ministry of Interior, they really want some more facts and information that can lead us to positive things.

So you’ve charged at least seven men, who are being tried... You’ve arrested more…

Yes, we did.

What about India’s demand that Mr. Hafiz Sayeed, the head of the Jama’at-ud-Da’wah, must be tried and prosecuted?

He’s already under trial.

Would your government be open to India’s request on Hafiz Sayeed...?

We needed further information about that incident. At the same time we need more evidence to [take] him to task. One thing I must tell you, when we met Manmohan Singh it was a good meeting and he really wanted to discuss all [the] core issues including water, Sir Creek, Siachen, Kashmir — including interference in Balochistan. He said I’m ready to discuss anything and we had mutually decided that yes, the dialogue is the only answer. But he had tremendous pressure in his own country, his Parliament, and that can be [the] only thing which has stalled this composite dialogue.

We did have a joint statement... All the reactions which have come since on Balochistan seem to have taken the process down…

I disagree with you because when we discussed those issues, the two Prime Ministers were meeting… We were very careful in wording all these things, and we took three hours...

Was including Balochistan in the talks... a mistake...? Pakistan has not provided any evidence...

We can provide everything at an appropriate forum and appropriate time.

But you’re convinced there is Indian interference in Balochistan?

Yes, I’m convinced… That’s the reason I raised it with the Prime Minister.

And what was his response?

He said we’re ready to discuss all issues when we’ll have a composite dialogue.

So why did the Sharm-el-Sheikh process get stalled?

I mentioned in the beginning that it was a very good meeting. It stalled only because of Indian public pressure and Parliament.

There’s a sense in India that President Zardari is a dove on India-Pakistan relations and Prime Minister Gilani a hawk... Are you a hawk?

It’s the same party. We have a manifesto and we want to maintain excellent relations with our neighbours. I was the first one who took [an] initiative [on] that in Colombo. I called on Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh myself, and then I called on President Karzai... That was a request from my side: that I want to meet you. That’s an indication that we want to resolve all outstanding issues and want friendly relations with our neighbours. Therefore the perception is not right.

India doesn’t seem keen at the moment on the composite dialogue. What about back channel diplomacy?

I think the composite dialogue is needed. Back channel diplomacy would not be that useful. We need direct talks, we want to resolve issues, we don’t have to complicate issues.

What of the contentious issue of Kashmir?

When we resume the composite dialogue, that can be discussed.

There’s firing across the LoC and increased terror attacks in Kashmir.

In fact, there had been some irresponsible statements from the army chief of India. There’s tension because of that. At the same time it’s an indigenous movement in Kashmir that does not have anything to do with Pakistan. We’re too busy in our own matters. We want a resolution of the Kashmir dispute.

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2020 7:25:11 PM |

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