I had the privilege of seeing the Prime Minister on Thursday, November 18. I was with him for about twenty minutes. Here is a summary of the talk
Before I say anything I must say we have lived through memorable days, thanks to your leadership.
Oh, no. The credit goes to the whole country.
There is an impression that the recent fighting was not decisive enough and that has made a round of fighting inevitable.
I think the fighting was largely decisive. Consider the armour they have lost. And we are at the gates both of Sialkot and Lahore. When I went to the border I could see the chimneys of Bata Shoe Company and some other factories in Lahore. You can imagine Pakistan’s humiliation.
If we had captured a big city like Sialkot or Lahore that would have a far-reaching effect.
We had decided not to enter Lahore. We had no intention of going there and administering the city. It would have meant a very big loss of life for both sides. We were more interested in destroying Pakistan’s war potential and we have largely succeeded in that. We had intended to be on the door-step of Lahore, and that is where we are.
There is also the impression that we had given air support to our columns in the Lahore sector right from the start, things would have gone better for us.
The deployment of forces was a military decision.
What about the Tashkent conference? Some time back you said the conference of Indo-Pak leaders could be held in Tashkent after the ceasefire line had been stabilised and military personnel withdrawn. More recently you said India could discuss the easing of tensions and better utilisation of Indus Waters etc., but we would not discuss Kashmir at all. Are there not some contradictions in the two positions?
Our position through out has been that nothing can come out of fresh talks. If a friendly country like Russia thinks something may come out of them we will make a try.
What does Russia want us to concede to Pakistan?
That is not quite clear. But I understand Russia favours our
withdrawal to August 5 position even in Kashmir.
You said the other day that India will not make the A-bomb unless China builds up a stockpile and develops a delivery
system. Why do we want to wait for that moment when China has already made it clear that that is precisely what it proposes to do?
We don’t want to get in to this annihilation race.
But China has already done that. And possession of nuclear arms makes all the difference to a nation’s morale and its position abroad. It has become a status symbol among nations. It will cease to be a status symbol when even Indonesia, Egypt and Israel make nuclear arms. I think if we go in for the A-bomb, Pakistan will follow suit.
Does Pakistan have the
financial and technical capacity for that?
There are countries which will help it. They may not do so openly, but they will do it. We want to avoid that. Moreover nuclear technology is very advanced in India and we can make the bomb at short notice if and when necessary.
We supported China’s claim to a UN seat. Why do we do it? If China comes into the UN it will also get a seat on the Security Council. How is that going to
help us? Why can’t we remain atleast neutral on this issue?
There is something to be said for that. But we have all along taken the line that China should be in the UN, and we cannot easily reverse
ourselves. Anyway the issue is off for another year.
How about the trouble we had from local Muslims on the border?
The troublesome elements have left and they will not be allowed to return.
Why have we
created this Suba problem again?
We hoped to solve the problem amicably. It is unfortunate that the matter should have taken an acrimonious turn.
Are you satisfied with the response to Gold Bonds Scheme?
We are not. We had expected much more.
Why can’t we have door to door collection of gold by, say, all-party local committees? It is not
convenient for people to go long distances for buying gold bonds.
That is right. Something needs to be done to popularise Gold Bonds and make them a mass movement.
Some State Governments have decided to postpone civicelections by as much as three years. Is it fair?
I hope it will be possible to hold these elections earlier if conditions permit.