Pakistan’s President Arif Alvi has endorsed Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s proposal for a joint venture between Malaysia, Turkey and Pakistan to unite the Muslim world.
In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency in the capital Islamabad, Alvi said the Malaysian premier’s proposal is very important and joint venture of three big Muslim countries would help the Muslim world.
He also thanked the Turkish government and people of Turkey for their support on Kashmir issue.
Q: Mr President, could you tell us what’s the Indian aim behind the current move in Kashmir of removing its special status and dividing it into two union territories? And what is the possible solution of this long-standing issue, if India would not follow UNSC resolutions?
Arif Alvi: First of all, I must thank the government of Turkey and the people of Turkey of having stood by the people of Pakistan in all times of need and for taking very bold stand on Kashmir, exactly reflecting on the law and 11 United Nations resolutions on Kashmir.
The Indian prime minister [Jawaharlal Nehru] when he went to the United Nations on the Kashmir issue. He went to the UN and promised a plebiscite in Kashmir to ask for the opinion of Kashmiri people on their fate and they kept on promising the same until the mid-’60s. But later, the Indian government started changing [its attitude] and then Pakistan and India went into Simla Agreement which meant bilateral discussions. But, [since then] at all international forums India discourages discussions.
Even India has labeled Kashmiris’ movement as a terrorist movement and you understand and my Turkish brothers will understand it very well that is how illegally they have labeled all freedom struggles, which are recognized by the UN, to be terrorist movements. That is what India tried to do.
But despite that, since 1972 when we got into the Simla accord, India has not held a single meeting on Kashmir and today they make a statement that Kashmir is an integral part of India. That’s not the only issue which worries me, the issue which worries me is that [Indian Prime Minister Narendra] Modi’s government subscribes to an RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh] philosophy which is very similar to [Adolph] Hitler’s philosophy of ethnic cleansing of handing the minorities and suppressing them. After the Gujarat riots, after which no democratic government in the world was ready to give Modi a visa, that pattern continues [in India]. That pattern continues in Kashmir, even in Assam, making the people of Assam and Bengal — about 4 million Muslims — stateless.
Recently, about two weeks ago, the UN said that you should not be making the people stateless, all the Muslims. But still he [Modi] targeted the minorities. Entire action is not only targeted to Muslims, also question of all minorities. If you make the people stateless, if you suppress the Muslims in India, if you suppress the Muslims in Kashmir and the minorities in all of India, India is threading a very dangerous path.
Again, I am thankful to the government of Turkey and President Erdogan who called me when the Pulwama incident became a crisis. I am grateful to President Erdogan for having called me and for having understood and taking pride in the fact that Pakistan with stood the onslaught of India.
Q: Why UN and other world powers are not interested to help resolve Kashmir issue despite passing of 71 years? Do you think Pakistan and India could go to war if India would not withdraw its recent actions in Kashmir?
Alvi: I think it is the first time after 1965 when Kashmir was discussed in the UN. I think present Modi’s government has brought the situation to a level where the governments throughout the world have to react. Today is the 45th day when the voice of Kashmiri people is totally suppressed and nobody knows about the exact situation inside Kashmir as the valley was entirely locked down. On information, on television, on cell phones, on landlines, there is a total lockdown.There is curfew. Can you imagine that people who would be requiring medicines and people who need to earn livelihood. They all behind curfew. So, you can’t stop eight million people in Kashmir Valley, can not be put under curfew. I think the situation is humanitarian-wise, it is a major crisis. I think the world has to and world is looking into it. And I believe that the Indian government is living under a falsehood, under a false intention, as well as a false belief about the future that they will be able to suppress Kashmiri people, but, no people can be suppressed.
You look at the Palestinian, no people can be suppressed in the world. Whether they were the Jews in the Europe, Nazis could not suppress them. People can not be suppressed.I believe that sooner or later Kashmir is going to have a plebiscite. Pakistan wants peace, you know when Imran Khan became the prime minister he made so many overtures, every time he [Khan] said if India takes one step forward Pakistan will take two steps forward, let’s sit down and talk. But every time India rejected those overtures and we started feeling that India might be considering this as our weakness. We want peace not because of weakness, we want peace to bring prosperity between Pakistan and India. As India is facing extreme poverty, it is tremendous, it is much more than Pakistan — if there is peace, there is going to be lessening of the burden on military spending but Indian belligerence is the same it, has belligerent relations with all neighbors — including Pakistan — and this is a very sad situation.
Q: Recently you said that Muslims do not want war, but we will not step back if we are forced into it, you meant that Pakistan will not go into war first against India?
Alvi: I believe and I narrate that the saying of our Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that Muslims do not want war, but if it’s imposed upon them they fight back with the will of Allah and that’s a jihad. First, Pakistan doesn’t want war, second we are nuclear states, important, thirdly the extremist elements and the fascist regime of Mr. Modi has its thumb on the nuclear bombs and they are so nervous in doing this that I remember during the Pulwama situation when in February this year Pakistan shot down two Indian aircraft, they [Indian] shot down their own helicopter. So their finger on the button is very dangerous. India is an irresponsible nuclear power. India exploded its first device in 1974, it’s second device in the 90s. When Pakistan also then reacted by showing the world that we also have nuclear power. That is why peace is very important. That is why Indian withdrawal from 370 etc. and going towards plebiscite in Kashmir is very important.
However, Pakistan is a responsible nuclear state, having asked India all the time, when we caught their [Indian] pilot in Pakistan: One plane came into Pakistan, it was dropped in Pakistan, second plane was in Pakistan, it was shot down but landed in India. Has this plane not landed in Pakistan they would had been lying about it also. I believe that, Indians for the first time after 1971 crossed into Pakistan territory this time after the Pulwama incident, and I am afraid if Indian atrocities continue in the occupied Kashmir, there might be an influx of refugees towards Pakistan. We want peace — but at the same time if India attack us, we will retaliate and I don’t think India can imagine that people with the faith can withstand all kinds of onslaught on their territory.
Q: Last month, Malaysia’s prime minister proposed a Turkey-Malaysia-Pakistan joint venture to unite the Muslim world. As president of Pakistan, what role would you play to realize it?
Alvi: I think it’s very important. Before our recent meetings [with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan], I and Imran khan had first time met with President Erdogan in 2011 and 2012, I think President Erdogan is a very visionary leader, at the same time Prime Minister Mahathir and Prime Minister Imran Khan are also very visionary leaders, these three are big democracies, these three are democracies which are strong with huge populations.
I think it’s very important that these countries get together on economic issues. What’s happening in the Middle East, Turkey is playing a good and major role around its border in Syria and trying to achieve peace. There will be a major rebuilding in the Middle East and a major rebuilding of Afghanistan when there is peace. So I think Turkey, Pakistan and Malaysia can play a huge role not only for peace but at the same time for joint venture for development throughout the Middle East and in the Muslim world. These are principled people, these are people who do not like foreign hegemonies hurting their countries, and Pakistan also. These countries have been harmed by foreign hegemonies. Turkey has been harmed, Malaysia has been harmed and Pakistan. And by corruption. These countries and these governments have fought corruption to the hilt. And Pakistan is still under pressure from India and I think cooperation among them is very important for the Muslim world.
Q: How do you see the future ties between Turkey and Pakistan? In what areas do you think bilateral relations should be further strengthened?
Alvi: I think bilateral relation between Pakistan and Turkey are exemplary as both are very very close friends. It does not relate only since the formation of Pakistan but since Khilafat Movement, we have close relations. I remember my father talking about the Khilafat movement with passion. He passed away in the 80s. He played a role himself in the Khilafat movement and I think that was the original binding. We started this friendship which is unique in the world. All Pakistanis travelled abroad, who went to Turkey can link with that. This is friendship between governments but more importantly friendship between people. I think after the Khilafat movement the second and third generation is living right now and i think we must let our people know both in Pakistan and Turkey that what a change we thought to bring in the world when we resisted in the Khilafat situation.
In future, there can be good economic ventures between Turkey and Pakistan, there could be good cultural exchanges between the people of Pakistan and Turkey and there could be good defense relations between Pakistan and Turkey. We can cooperate in building of aircraft, we can cooperate in building of all infrastructure. With the help of Turkey, we were building a frigate which I inaugurated few months ago. I think there is tremendous cooperation between the two brotherly countries. I think it will keep on improving. Turmoil in the future which is coming towards the World: global warming, the nationalism which is coming up and reduction of globalization by itself, these are new areas where World is still confused on what to do and which direction to go. In fact, 6 years, 7 years from now all it was about multinational global cooperation. I think there is more nationalism today. So, I think, these are very ripe areas for us to look at for more and more cooperation and therefore to provide the leadership to countries which are not so well of to provide leadership towards better education, better health standards, to preserve the environment in Turkey, Pakistan, Malaysia. Pakistan and Turkey themselves are great examples that we live together, we think together and we should be working together.
Q: Turkish people are pleased with Pakistan’s support in the fight against Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO). In this context, do you think the FETO danger is well perceived internationally?
Alvi: I think it’s well perceived internationally, I think we stand by Turkey with understanding of what happened and Pakistan took immediate steps in fight. When I visited Turkey for the Istanbul Airport’s inauguration, President Erdogan made a special request that cases of all those terrorists in Pakistan should be expedited and we went ahead and expedited those cases and handed over the schools to Maarif foundation.
I think Turkey was wise enough to handle that issue well and in time although it went through crisis because of that and we understand that the crisis that Turkish government and President Erdogan went through. It was because of support of the people Turkey that who were able to withstand, It is a great example to the World that when people are with you nobody can touch you.
I’m glad, we understand what is happening and we have been able to manage it and I am sure Turkish government would also be able to manage it.
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