Nawaz Sharif on Pakistan and India:
"We're not to blame"
Just hours after sending the army into Karachi and setting up military courts there for the speedy punishment of "terrorists and criminals," Mian Mohammed Nawaz Sharif spoke to TIME's Tim McGirk and Syed Talat Hussain. The Pakistani Prime Minister defended his crackdown in the nation's largest city and explained how relations with neighboring India might improve. Excerpts:
TIME: Why did you decide to send the army into Karachi?
Nawaz Sharif: The law and order situation was bad. My government did its best, but things went beyond control. The situation has improved since we imposed governor's rule. Many terrorists have been arrested. Why, just one of them alone killed 13 people. Under the normal system, justice takes a long time. These terrorists and criminals were threatening judges, policeman and witnesses.
TIME: How long will this "quasi-martial law" last?
Nawaz Sharif: As long as it has to. I'm very, very clear-headed as far as these matters are concerned. We have to put our house in order.
TIME: What will happen if Pakistan doesn't get its IMF loan? Will the country be forced to default?
Nawaz Sharif: Pakistan never defaulted on its payments. We wouldn't have this situation if the agreement between Pakistan and the IMF had been allowed to continue. As you know Pakistan was forced to conduct nuclear explosions and, as a consequence, sanctions were imposed and the IMF loan package was terminated. Now we have a balance of payments problem, but it's because of sanctions. Our economy is resilient. We're involved in serious negotiations with the IMF. I hope that these negotiations are successful. In a couple of days, we'll have results. The world has a stake in an economically strong Pakistan. It's also in the interests of regional stability.
TIME: Why did Pakistan detonate a nuclear device?
Nawaz Sharif: Pakistan was forced to conduct its nuclear tests, and Pakistan isn't to be blamed for tests. These detonations were forced on us. It was a question of our survival. Our security was in grave danger.
TIME: Is Pakistan going to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty?
Nawaz Sharif: We've already declared a unilateral moratorium [on nuclear weapons testing.
TIME: The U.S. is worried Pakistan might sell nuclear technology to other nations.
Nawaz Sharif: Pakistan isn't a rich country. We need resources, but we've never done this. Our record is impeccable. Pakistan scrupulously abides by its long-standing policy not to sell to a third country or entity. Our [nuclear] export controls are effective and we're tightening them even further.
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