Question: When are you returning to Pakistan? Will you consider forming your own Party or will you form an alliance with existing politicians?
Answer: One thing is for sure, that I will return to Pakistan. The timing however is of the essence. It is mainly dependent on the domestic environment. I have to see whether people vastly want me to return and also whether I can deliver. I have to work through the political and democratic process. Only grassroots support can enable me to carry out a programme and policy based on my vision for the future. So if this question is coming from someone who desires that this happen, it is really up to you to begin engaging. The youth who have been voicing this question and are the future custodians of Pakistan, have to get activated.
As far as forming a new Party or getting into an alliance is concerned, one has to be pragmatic. Existing politicians have their importance and a definite role to play. I have to generate direct public support to try something original. I do believe in a military maxim: “Never reinforce failure.”
Question: Why were such large amounts of bank loans written off? Does this not send the message to the citizenry that crime pays?
Answer: Absolutely correct, it should never be done. But who says I have written off a single loan of any rich or influential individual? Never have I done this.
I have, however, written off loans of the poor, especially those stricken by natural calamities. This was always done on a collective basis. Loans of the poor were written off in drought stricken areas of Baluchistan and Sindh in 2000, then of the earth quake affected in 2005, the flood affected of Baluchistan and Sindh in 2006 and as a part of agriculture reform package for the poor. It was always made sure that these special reliefs were not availed by well off individuals. I have never written off a single loan on an individual basis.
Any individuals who got loans written off have done so on their own, using their influence or other underhand means which must be investigated and action taken. This has never come to my knowledge, and I never took any decision to write off loans to benefit a single individual.
Question: Why did you handover Pakistanis to US for interrogation? In particular, why were Americans given access to an accomplished Pakistani citizen like Dr. Afia Siddiqui?
Answer: These are baseless allegations. Not a single Pakistani was handed over by me to the US or any foreign country. Those taken by US were captured in Afghanistan and not given to US. Our policy was clear:
- Pakistanis will be tried in Pakistan.
- Foreigners will be offered to their own countries first and in case of refusal (which was invariably the case), will be handed over to the US.
The facts about Dr Afia Siddiqui’s case are still unclear. I only heard her name through the media when the story of her arrest in Afghanistan became public.