Benazir Bhutto for Pursuing ‘Open Borders’ Policy
15 July 1999
NEW YORK July 15: – Pakistan and India should pursue an “Open Borders” policy to solve the Kashmir dispute, former Prime Minister and Opposition Leader Benazir Bhutto told foreigntv.com’s Peter Arnett in an exclusive online interview. In the streaming-video conversation posted at www.foreigntv.com Tuesday 13, July. She said that open borders would help remove the ongoing explosive issue of land control to allow Kashmiri people from both sides to interact. She mentioned the “open borders” arrangement between Israel and Jordan as an example of how such a policy would work.
If Pakistan and India fail to resolve the Kashmir situation, Mrs. Bhutto warned, “then the international community will be sucked into the crisis.” The Pakistan Government has “mishandled” the Kashmir crisis from the start”, she said and added that the only way to avoid a larger war is to find a new, approach to resolve the long-time impasse that has brought both nations to all-out war over Kashmir twice in the past.
Benazir Bhutto criticized Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for “the mishandling of the Kashmir crisis from the start.9′ She said that his “dual policy of bus diplomacy and armed struggle is like having your cake and eating it, too. And during the conflict he tried to pass the blame on to the military, causing division in the country,” she asserted.
She also criticized Sharifs recent trip to confer with President Clinton on resolving the crisis. ‘”‘If he wanted to settle it, then why not in Islamabad, instead of going all the way to Washington? Any self-respecting nation would feel that if you have to withdraw, do it voluntarily rather than have someone else dictate it.”’
Benazir Bhutto also said that the regime in Pakistan “treats me as a non-person. They are trying to eliminate me from politics. They have not bothered taking me into their confidence at a time when the Indian government is reaching out to the opposition parties to unite their country over the Kashmir crisis”
Bhutto cited her role in introducing the Internet to Pakistan despite objections from traditionalists and the importance of e-mail and online connectivity for staying in touch with her party in Pakistan. “Thank God for the world of modern communications which I introduced in Pakistan. When we brought the email in everybody said this is going to bring in obscenity and vulgarity. Now that very email and internet is helping me.”
About the charges of corruption against her she said “To be publicly accused of doing it only to line my pockets is hurtful to the extreme. She said her hardcore support within Pakistan remains firm, and that the economic situation is growing worse, and along with that, public discontent. “If free elections were held in Pakistan today my party would win,”‘ she said.
When asked how she was keeping in touch with the party she said “I have a very good political organization. It is a team effort. I am in touch through e-mail, the internet, the fax and the telephone. I have more time here than when I was in Pakistan, going from courtroom to courtroom to defend my self.
She said history will repeat itself’ and expressed the hope that she will once again be turning full circle. I hope the day will come, and come soon, when I can return. I know what my country needs.