Q. Leaving aside Indian allegations about Pakistan’s link in Mumbai terrorist attacks, what is your take on the security implications of these attacks?
A. Well, the same thing happened in 2001 and 2002, when Pakistan and India were close to fighting a nuclear war. Unfortunately, when Pakistan is focusing its full attention on the War on Terrorism in the border areas with Afghanistan, once again it seems that the stakes are high on our eastern border with India. And, obviously, you know, the matter is still in the stage of allegations and only time will tell us what is the actual story. But given the severity of security threat facing Pakistan, especially from the issue of terrorism, I think it is quite unfortunate that once again our attention is unduly focusing on our conflict with India.
Q. What does this mean for the future of peace process between India and Pakistan?
A. Well, as you know that in the last four years, after long effort and very hard work, Pakistan and India were able to achieve some kind of peace. They concluded a number of Confidence-Building Measures, especially on Kashmir which is a key dispute between the two countries. So, one unfortunate outcome of the attack in Mumbai is that Pakistan’s attention from counter-terrorism effort is being diverted to its conflict with India, the other unfortunate outcome is that the peace process between India and Pakistan, which began in the year 2004, is, I think, really in serious danger right now.
Q. Do you think the security situation will further deteriorate in the days ahead?
A. Well, currently, the situation is very serious. In fact, unofficially, we learnt that the air force of the two countries was placed on high alert in the last two days, and there is now significant mediatory bid on the part of the international community. But one hopes that the Americans and their allies in this War on Terrorism will immediately intervene and try to mediate the differences between the two countries.
We have to understand that terrorism in the post-9/11 era has somehow become a common threat to India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other countries in this region—and which demands that there has to be a common approach to tackle this issue. And a conflict which goes beyond the 9/11 events—and, in fact, it started after the partition of the subcontinent in 1947—should not come in the way of this great fight that we are having together against terrorists, whose terrorist manifestations so not know any limits, they cross borders, they attacks countries. And Pakistan itself has been a victim of so many terrorist activities in recent years.