Q. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband has backed Pakistan government’s recent offer to negotiate with militants who are willing to renounce violence. Do you see some shift in British or Western policy?
A. His remarks clearly indicate that the Western world is adapting to the new ground reality in Pakistan. And the ground reality is that we now have a democratic government consisting of mainstream political parties. In democracy, you have a multitude of options to tackle a complex problem, and terrorism in my opinion is a complex problem. That is why in his first speech at the National Assembly, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani talked about the need for tacking terrorism through economic and political measures, rather than through the use of force alone.
Q. But so far the Americans, along with the British, have been in favour of only the military option. Don’t you see some sort of hypocrisy in the Western policy on the War on Terror?
A. Obviously, the Western approach to tackling terrorism through military force alone will take time to change. The new government is also expected to take some time in adopted what it calls a comprehensive approach for the purpose. What is important is that new ideas are being floated, and they are being welcomed by the Western leaders.
In my opinion, extremism and terrorism can be best defeated through democracy. In democracy, extremists can be persuaded to become normal citizens and if anyone among them attempts to terrorize the general population, then there will be genuine public reaction against them.