Zardari says India is not a threat to Pakistan

October 5, 2008

Pakistan’s new President Asif Ali Zardari is starting to challenge quite a few long-held positions.

India, he told the Wall Street Journal in an interview published over the weekend, “has never been a threat to Pakistan.” For a country that has fought three wars with India, including one in 1971  that ended in humiliation and the birth of Bangladesh from what was East Pakistan, these are remarkable words.


Indeed for a country that said it would rather eat grass in order to pay to develop nuclear bombs if India did so, the  idea that India is not a threat is a whole game-changer.

Is that what Zardari, a businessmen who many see as without the baggage that politicians carry, has set himself to do ? He is even more provocative on Kashmir, speaking of the militant Islamic groups that operate there as “terrorists”.

His predecessor Pervez Musharraf would more likely have described them as “freedom fighters”, the Wall Street Journal says. Certainly it would be hard to recall any senior Pakistani leader, his assassinated wife and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto included, going so far as labelling the militants in Kashmir as terrorists.

Indeed, Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League seized on Zardari’s remarks, saying it would raise the issue in parliament. It said the renewed unrest in Kashmir, where a row over the transfer of land to a Hindu pilgrimage trust has snowballed into mass protests against Indian rule, had proved that the uprising  was indigenous.

Porters at the India-Pakistan checkpost

Zardari also advocated strong trade ties with India,  arguing there was no other way for economic survival for countries like his.  “He imagines Pakistani cement factories being constructed to provide for India’s huge infrastructure needs, Pakistani textile mills meeting Indian demand for blue jeans, Pakistani ports being used to relieve the congestion at Indian ones,” the Wall Street Journal said, noting that for a country that had spent most of its existence trying to match its neighbour’s military strength, this new agenda was a remarkable recognition of India’s rise as a global power.

Trade between the two countries has been rising in recent years, but is still miniscule in relation to its potential, most experts say. So difficult have ties been in the past that Pakistan would rather import tea all the way from Kenya than procure it from India.

So for Zardari to talk of turning his long distrustful nation into a service centre/manufacturing base for India’s gigantic economy is a remarkable leap into the future.  


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

Y isnt the above historic devitation in stand by Pak PM not being highlighted in the Pak Media??…thnkfully this time its been published on Reuters & Western Media first wud have been blamed on Indian media’s imagination!!

Posted by Sri | Report as abusive

Now pakis seem to realize they have not other go to survive other than falling on feet of india. other wise as rightly said pkais will have to eat grass for living.

Posted by Om | Report as abusive

I find it very amusing that there is a foolish Indian who thinks that despite all the slums in India, the abject poverty and AIDS, the oppressesd 25% population of Dalit low caste hindus, it is thought that Pakistan is in any way dependent to India.
Pakistanis have a much better living standard, the Gulf sates, China and Saudi Arabia provide for much of Pakistan’s petroleum, trade and military requirements. Pakistan has major trading partners in Europe. There is nothing like Pakistan becoming dependent on India at all.
Pakistan is already building nuclear reactors to meet growing energy demand. The new port of Gwadar is being leased to China in return for strategic interests. Pakistan’s strategic location means it is a hub and transit route for Central Asian former Soviets state’s energy resources to Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf. Pakistan can never be dependent on India. India is better off feeding its own poors.
Zardari is a street smart guy, even Pakistanis dont trust what he say, he has his own clever agenda and is decieving India by such comments. Who knows what he may be upto?

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive

As per Umair pakistan has better living standards – “they have masterded the art of eating grass”. He is imagining all the slums in India all the time..he is probably in Islamabad – the pakistani capital which had only 2 5 star hotels, now only one after Marriot is blasted, i wonder if whole pakistan qualifies atleast to be called a slum, please suggest if there is a word in english for a place which is worse than a slum..I think we will call it pakistan for now.
Umair please stop spekaing of US and european partners.. everybody knows they all just want to throw bombs in to pakistan for their safety and that’s where your partnership ends.
I agree India has poor to be fed, but Indian poor has more self respect than paksitans president and prime minister, Indian poor work hard, earn and eat. Indians dont go to US and china or a Arabia for begging.
and speaking of hidden agenda of pakistans street smart president..what can be a former playboys agenda ?? everyone knows how his jaws dropped in front of Palin..its not even a year since he lost his wife..
No doubt you pakistanis find everything amusing..

Posted by Om | Report as abusive

I don’t know what Zardari is up to by making those comments. Maybe, as Umair commented, he has got his own agenda. Nevertheless I don’t think India will be so easily deceived. The Pakistani’s made a monumental error by allowing him into power. I think that he is all about advancing his family’s interests at the expense of Pakistan’s. India must be loving it!

Posted by Ray | Report as abusive

If Zardari really means what he is saying then its actually good. India anyways is not going to invade Pakistan. The major contention between the two of them is Kashmir. If that is solved then things will be fine. Yes, Indians don’t trust Pakistanis and vice versa. It is the historical baggage of the partition which both of us are carrying.
Also, the implicit and explicit support to militant activities of the separatist movement in Kashmir by Pakistan is a major issue. Moreover, episodes like Kargil, where on one hand Pakistan talks about being friends with India and on the other hand attacks it, has increased the distrust.
As for living standards as some people have mentioned, India has its poors so has Pakistan. But still Indian economy is growing faster than most other countries and is considered to be one of the most promising economies in the world. (Read BRIC report). It is becoming a hub for small car manufacturers and is already far ahead in IT and ITES industries. It has energy issues, and even with the nuclear deal, it has a far way to go to fulfill those energy needs.
And hey Umair, can you launch satellites and dream of sending a Pakistani rocket to the moon? India is doing that. Please don’t look at India from a Pakistani view point. India is actually not a threat to Pakistan. We just want to live in peace. Zardari is right in his analysis. Though how much he means it is still a suspect.

Posted by Aman | Report as abusive