‘US Drone Attacks Are Predatory Foot Prints On Pak Soil’

Photo: AP

Do you agree with President Zardari’s recent statement that India is not a threat or an enemy?
India should certainly not be an enemy after 60 years of conflict. We need to invest in peace and a composite dialogue that can withstand a crisis like the tragedy of Mumbai.

President Zardari admitted that the Pakistani Army did not want the ISI chief to come to India after the Mumbai attack. What were the Army’s concerns?
The ISI chief was not the level needed for dispatching to India without a pre-agreed template on the investigation would proceed. To this day, Pakistan needs more admissible evidence from India to ensure a conviction, as well as from seven other countries. This is a trans-national criminal trial and cannot be wrapped up without the requisite evidence.

Obama has called Zardari. Is this diplomatic pressure?
Coercive diplomacy is not a productive way to handle a crisis.

Do you think the drone attacks by the US should stop?
The drones symbolise for the Pakistani people a predatory American footprint on their soil. No Pakistani is willing to countenance a military presence that violates the country’s sovereignty. These UAVs are very targeted in their approach and they help to keep al Qaeda operatives on the run, but the costs of such a military operation outweigh the benefits. The US must not confuse a tactical option with a full-fledged strategy. Better options can surely be found.

Assess the PPP government’s first year in power.
It has had almost impossible challenges to surmount. While it has not been perfect at managing the domestic political game, it has survived critical roadblocks while laying an infrastructure of consensus against terrorism, for rebuilding the shattered economy, for introducing the first social sector net in the country and for working out a new formula for provincial tensions. Military options are always a last resort, as they cause displacement and loss of innocent lives, but Pakistanis are rallying to the aid of their government.

‘India should certainly not be an enemy after 60 years of conflict. We need to invest in peace’

Should Nawaz Sharif rejoin the government?
Yes, Nawaz Sharif is an important political stakeholder in the democratic system, and Pakistan would be better served if his party rejoined the cabinet. These are difficult times for Pakistan. Political stability and the N League’s buy-in to the democratic system would help maintain focus on the main challenges facing us.

Why did you resign as a key member of the Cabinet and do you regret it?
I have clear views on the promises made by our party on upholding media freedoms, even if they oppose us. I’ve no regrets over any action taken in my political career or my life.