In New Delhi for a peace meet, co-chairperson of Pakistan's Human Rights Commission, Senator Iqbal Haider, warns India against getting sucked into the war against terror. He speaks with Nandita Sengupta:
28 Jan 2009, 0021 hrs IST
Q: China has been given the role of negotiator by Pakistan vis-a-vis India. What is the message?
Anybody who can play a role in bringing harmony between the two nations is welcome whether it is Iran, China or the US. But recall the statement that President Obama made. He said the US will withhold economic aid. That means the military aid will continue. So the US's ordnance factories will continue to run and make money by supplying Pakistan. We do not need military aid. The US is not playing a constructive role.
Q: What role has the US played?
The US has not played any role in curbing, arresting terrorism in our region. We must look at its inability to contain the forces and sources that support terrorism. The US, Saudi Arabia and the Arab world support extremists, militants, religious fanatics. Where are the arms and the money coming from? This must be considered when you view the Mumbai tragedy. India must be careful for it is being sucked into the so-called war against terror.
Pervez Musharraf allowed religious parties a free hand. The US supported Musharraf to the hilt. If that wasn't supporting terrorism, what is? He openly patronised all jehadis LeT, al-Qaeda, Taliban, Mehsud, Fazlullah. They follow the same religious beliefs and have the same modus operandi. And the US gave Musharraf a free hand. The biggest beneficiaries of India-Pakistan tension are these religious, militant, extremist forces in Pakistan. They are all the creation of the same midwife, the US.
Since 2001, terrorists could not have operated and succeeded without the covert and overt support of the Pakistan establishment, the US and NATO forces. At the local level, there is about 20 per cent support for the Taliban, not more than that.
Q: Is Pakistan's civil society feeling let down by its government?
No, not let down. But civil society has a more pragmatic approach and has done a more open analysis of the crisis. But, gradually, governments will have to heed the path of peace. Hatred against each other must not be the barometer of patriotism. Peace, love and understanding should be the criteria for us to engage with one another.
Q: What was your first reaction to the Mumbai attacks?
I could feel that this could harm India-Pakistan relations badly. Mumbai's 26/11 took place after a bold and positive statement by Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari. He had said the ultimate objective in India-Pakistan relations was to have relations resembling those within EU. He also explored a common currency. But all dreams were destroyed by a bunch of terrorists who thrive on strained relations between India and Pakistan.