There’s a bit of Indian in every Pakistani:Zardari

For the first time, a Pakistani head of state promised a “no-first nuclear-strike” against India, talked of change and reconciliation, of shared bloodlines and the possibility of doing away with passports.

“I can assure you that Pakistan will not be the first country ever to use (nuclear weapons),” said Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari. “I hope that things never come to a stage where we have to even think about using nuclear weapons (against India).”

The statement came when Zardari was addressing the HT Leadership Summit on Saturday via a satellite link from his official residence in Islamabad. A student from Delhi’s St. Stephen’s College asked him: “Will you use nuclear weapons against India?”

Television host Karan Thapar, who was compering the session, interjected and asked Zardari if he was making a no-first-use assurance, something no Pakistani head of state has ever done (India has a no-first-use policy).

“If so, you have just made headline news,” Thapar told Zardari.

“Most certainly” responded the President, dressed in a dark business suit and bright tie, as he sat against the backdrop of a huge portrait of his slain wife Benazir Bhutto and Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

In his opening remarks, there was no reference to Kashmir; that came up only during the question-and-answer session. Zardari’s emphasis was on economic and political cooperation. He also suggested some kind of regional cooperation for a non-nuclear South Asia.

Zardari borrowed a quote from his late wife, who once said that there’s a “little bit of India in every Pakistani and a little bit of Pakistan” in every Indian.

“I do not know whether it is the Indian or the Pakistani in me that is talking to you today,” Zardari said, amid applause from his high-profile audience, which included diplomats, politicians and industrialists.

At time emotional, at times witty, Zardari exuded warmth and positivity, using pithy one-liners to deflect tough queries. 

He was asked: To which country does Kashmir belong? “It belongs to Kashmiris,” he said.

In the context of one round of violence-free polling in Jammu and Kashmir, attributed by some to Pakistan’s recent hands-off policy, he was asked whether he would ensure peaceful elections in the remaining rounds.

“The (Pakistan People’s Party) PPP and its government have always had a hand-off policy towards India,” he replied.

Telecast live from India by CNN-IBN, the Zardari session was picked up simultaneously by Pakistani news channels.

He told a questioner that Pakistan’s Parliament has “pre-agreed” to friendly relations with India. He said he did not feel threatened because India was much bigger than Pakistan.

“We don’t feel threatened by India. India should also not feel threatened by us,” he said. “I want change and reconciliation.”

Zadari said Pakistan’s parliament already has a caucus for going into Indo-Pak issues, including furthering trade relations. He thought a matching response from New Delhi would help take matters further. 

Asked about Pakistan’s deteriorating economy and his country’s dependence in the past on aid and assistance, he said: “We want to move from aid to trade.” The President flagged his consensual approach in resolving complex issues by stating that rather than seeking to conquer his opponents, he believed in taking people along. 

The President also talked of a common South Asian economic bloc with other countries. He suggested a “flexible Indo-Pak visa regime”, eliminating the travel documents now required and replacing them with a smart-card enabled e-visa system.

 

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Ashok Kumar

Ashok Kumar is an accomplished journalist with over 38 years of experience in the profession in various capacities. He was a sub-editor in Patriot and later Chief Sub-editor in The Hindustan Times, New Delhi. He has several published articles and reports in Patriot and HT. Published reports in The Blacktown Sun in Sydney. He had also been a tutor in journalism in the University of Western Sydney. He is currently Editor at The Indian Sub-continent Times, Sydney.

12 thoughts on “There’s a bit of Indian in every Pakistani:Zardari

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  • April 21, 2010 at 11:13 am
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    The Paradox of Pakistan The state of Pakistan today presents a dangerous paradox. The indiscriminate weaponisation of its civil society has eroded the very basis of a modern state premised upon a monopoly of violence. Its economy has twice reached the brink of collapse in ….

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  • May 31, 2010 at 10:49 pm
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    Thanks for the comments and I look forward to more. — Editor

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  • August 8, 2010 at 3:12 am
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    India must not fall in the trap of pakistan. They need time to sort out there problems. If India is smart they must tripple their defence budget and start bilding atleast 1000 su 30 MKI. Pakistan will not be abele to confront the IAF. They will not get from usa 400 F16 because they can’t pay back and USA and Nato economics is down. In 5 years from now the PAF will not abele to exist because IAF will have 4.5 and 5 generation planes. India has to do same whit the Navy and army.Start bilding 2000 Arjun MBT 20 Kolka destroyers and 12 arihant subs whit 4 a.carriers. It will bring Pakistan down and the Chinees out of the Indian ocean. India must play the game like Reagan dit whit Corbatsjof.

  • October 30, 2010 at 5:26 pm
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  • July 30, 2011 at 7:03 pm
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