September 22, 2021

1957. Interview with Pakistan's Prime Minister Suhrawardy

An Interview with Prime Minister Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy

July 14, 1957

ANNOUNCER: Prime Minister Suhrawardy, "Face the Nation."

ANNOUNCER: You're about to see Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, Prime Minister of Pakistan, face the nation and the questions from veteran correspondents representing the nation's press.
Chalmers Roberts, diplomatic correspondent for the Washington Post and Times Herald, Bill Downs of CBS News, and John Madigan of the Washington bureau of Newsweek. And now substituting for Stuart Novins from CBS News and Public Affairs, the moderator of "Face the Nation" George Herman.

GEORGE HERMAN: Insofar as Western policy is concerned, one nation forms the land bridge between the troubled Middle East and the potentially troublesome Far East. That nation is Pakistan, a Muslim republic which faces Iran and the Arab world on one frontier, and Burma and the Asian world on the other.
At the head of the pro-Western government of Pakistan is Prime Minister Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, a lawyer with a background of working for labor organizations and a foreground of fondness for the broadest possible kind of democracy. He has a reputation for frank and unabashed speech. We'll see about that now as we get our first question from Mr. Madigan.

JOHN MADIGAN: Mr. Prime Minister, what have you and President Eisenhower accomplished in your conferences that could not have been effected at the ambassadorial level or through meetings of our State Department with your foreign office?

HUSEYN SHAHEED SUHRAWARDY: Well I think personal contacts have their value, and we understand something more about American doctrine and American politics by personal contacts, and I think that President Eisenhower and Secretary Dulles also understand more of my mind and what I propose to do.

BILL DOWNS: Mr. Suhrawardy, the communiqué makes no specific mention of military aid. Your nation is a bridge between SEATO and the Baghdad Pact. Did you get additional military aid?

SUHRAWARDY: Well I don't know, but it is obvious that all the time we are reviewing our military requirements, Mr. Downs. The position really is that we are not seeking military aid in such quantities as it will make it difficult for us to digest all the aid that we get. We want just enough military aid to save us from aggression.

ROBERTS: You did ask, sir, while speaking to the President and the Secretary for some additional military equipment. Is that correct?

SUHRAWARDY: We have assessed—all that I can say is that we are continuously assessing our requirements. At the present moment, my view is that we have not received sufficient military aid.

ROBERTS: The communiqué that you have issued with the president jointly speaks of serious financial pressures on your government due to maintaining your military forces, which are allied of course with American forces in two specific pacts out there in your part of the world. What do you mean by that? What are those financial pressures, and what are you asking us to help you do to relieve them?

SUHRAWARDY: Well Mr. Roberts, the position is that our revenue and our income is not sufficient to maintain our military equipment at a proper standard. When I mean a proper standard, it is not sufficient to save us from aggression. And all that we want is that America should come to our assistance to that extent that we shall be able, without fear, of being attacked from any quarter to carry on with our cooperative effort and our constructive efforts.

DOWNS: Mr. Prime Minister, speaking of aggression, the Indians say that they fear an attack from Pakistan in the area of Kashmir. Do you intend to use military force to enforce what you consider your rights in that area?

SUHRAWARDY: Obviously not. We are not fools. The Indians are tremendously very much stronger than we are. It was the Indians that moved their forces on the borders of Pakistan twice, once in 1950 and another in 1951. We never moved our forces at their borders against them.

ROBERTS: Mr. Prime Minister, you've just said in this communiqué with the president that you have pledged to try to solve this Kashmir question with your Indian neighbors peacefully. Yet in a speech which you made in your own parliament not long before you came here you said that you had reached, in your approach to the United Nations, "Our very last throw of the dice. We cannot continue to live under these conditions." You have been unable to solve this directly with the Indians. What do you mean by that? How are you going to solve it?

SUHRAWARDY: I am afraid, Mr. Roberts, you misunderstood me. I have said, that so far as our relationship with India is concerned and the Kashmir question, we have tried to resolve the question by mutual conversation and contacts but we have not reached any conclusion. Consequently we have approached the United Nations now, and we expect that the United Nations would do justice.

MADIGAN: Do you feel, Mr. Prime Minister, that President Eisenhower is going to give you, through the United States in the United Nations, strong backing to try and get the demands?

SUHRAWARDY: Well, I am certain about it. If he doesn't do so I shall be deeply disappointed because I expect from him a sense of justice that he will try and seek that the matters between us are adjusted.

MADIGAN: He has so said, and you have in the communiqué, that he hoped it would be solved on a just basis, and under United Nations "principles" I think was the term that you used.


MADIGAN: What action expressly will be taken by the United States in the United Nations in relation to the Kashmir issue?

SUHRAWARDY: Oh I think Mr. Madigan that the United States ought, in the Security Council, and later on in the General Assembly—which is necessary for us to go to the General Assembly—to use its weight and its influence and its persuasion to see that the other countries of the world also realize the justice of our case.

MADIGAN: You say that the United States ought to do that. Has the President said that we will do that?

SUHRAWARDY: Well, I expect that he will.

MADIGAN: He has said so?

SUHRAWARDY: And if he has said so—well, I am sure that he will.

DOWNS: Mr. Prime Minister, we in this country are familiar with fights over water. In Kashmir and the Indus Valley which your country comprises, the Indians have been threatening to build dams which would cut off a large part of your irrigation water. Now, we have had range wars over this question in the West in the past, and even in the present I think over California and the rest of it—would you go to war if India did build these dams and cut off your livelihood that way?

SUHRAWARDY: Oh let us not talk about these hypothetical matters. I don't—I cannot conceive that India would ever be so—I would like a word—so barbarous to stop the water flowing down our rivers.

DOWNS: Well what is the solution to this, then?

SUHRAWARDY: This. There are, as you know, six rivers. Most of them rise in Kashmir. One of the reasons why therefore Kashmir is so important for us is this water, these waters which irrigate our lands. They do not irrigate Indian lands.
Now, what India has done is not threatening it is actually it is building a dam today, and it is threatening to cut off the waters of the three rivers for the purpose of irrigating some of its lands. Now if it does so without replacement, it is obvious that we shall be starved out and our people will die of thirst.
Under those circumstances I hope that contingency will never arise. You can well realize that, rather than dying in that manner, people will die fighting. Because that will be the very worst form of aggression.
But I think that before any such situation can arise, those countries of the world that undertake and have undertaken to ensure that peace exists and that matters between countries of our type are adjusted will step in to see that India does not perform any such barbarous actions.

ROBERTS: Mr. Prime Minister, that's at least a future contingency you're discussing. I'd like to ask you this about the Kashmir dispute with India. The Indians claim that the United Nations resolution on this question said that first of all, you should pull you troops out of Kashmir, and that all the other steps in the UN resolution were contingent on that, including the idea of plebiscite, and that you have never done that. What is Pakistan's answer to that charge?

SUHRAWARDY: Pakistan's answer to that charge is the United Nations resolution, and the reaffirmation of that resolution not so long ago was January the 24th or 23rd, 1957. After all, this matter is raised by India before the Security Council, and this contention has been rejected. That is not the correct reading of the resolutions of the United Nations. These are nothing else but plausible excuses that are put forward by Mr. Nehru for the purpose of giving a semblance of some adequate, specious reason for his intransigence.

MADIGAN: On this very show last Sunday, Mr. Prime Minister, Mr. Nehru disagreed with your 100 percent.

SUHRAWARDY: Well I disagree with Mr. Nehru more than 100 percent, if that is possible.

DOWNS: Mr. Prime Minister, can there be real peace between Pakistan and India until you settle the religious question? When India was partitioned there was probably one of the greatest bloodbaths in civilization's history that took place. Several million people were slaughtered for religious reasons. Is there an answer to the dispute between the Hindu and the Muslim?

SUHRAWARDY: That matter is closed. India was partitioned on that ground. There were these tragedies that took place, particularly between the two wings of the Punjab, because passions were high. After that we have settled down to work.
There are—one eighth of the population of India is Muslim, one eighth of the population of Pakistan is non-Muslim. We are trying our level best to see that justice is done to the minorities. So far as we are concerned, we haven't had a single riot since 1950 when Nehru and the late Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan came to certain agreements regarding the treatment of the minorities. In India, I believe there have been as many as 402 from that time until now.

MADIGAN: Mr. Prime Minister, a few months ago when Mr Nehru was here in the United States, one of our colleagues referred to him as the "mystical man in the middle." He was referring to Mr. Nehru's stand on nonalignment and neutralism. What is your description of Mr. Nehru's position in the Cold War?
SUHRAWARDY: Well, I think that Mr. Nehru himself does not understand his position. Mr. Nehru occasionally leans on one side, occasionally on the other. The result is he gets the best of both worlds. That is to his advantage, and I think he continues to pursue that policy because up to now he has not been caught short on it.

MADIGAN: But you too, sir, up until a short time ago followed a policy of nonalignment.

SUHRAWARDY: No, I don't think so.

MADIGAN: You are interpreted as saying until 1953-54, not connecting yourself with either side, and I believe you have said recently that you have learned something since that time which had attached you solidly to the West. Am I correct?

SUHRAWARDY: Yes, the position was—if I can cast my mind back—it was some time in 1950, when I [inaudible] the question of these defensive pacts and alliances and so on. It not had been considered until some time in 1950 when I thought it desirable that we should remain aloof from the world conflict.
And still I would say this. That the policy which I have laid down to my country is goodwill towards all and malice towards none. There's no reason why we should start in a shining charger and start tilting against windmills. In 1953 or 1954 it was not—I do not think I ever stated that we should not ally ourselves with any countries.

ROBERTS: Mr Prime Minister—

SUHRAWARDY: But listen one minute. At that moment I had stated that I had not sufficient knowledge of the political situation and of our state of preparedness and so on, because the government did not take either the country or the opposition into confidence. Therefore, as I said, as I had not sufficient knowledge. I was not prepared to give a dictum as to what should be our policy. As I said that recently I have come to know more about the situation, and I am perfectly satisfied that the only manner in which Pakistan can be safe from aggression—and the security of the Middle East can be assured—is through these defensive pacts into which we have entered.

ROBERTS: Mr. Prime Minister, some of the cynics say that the reason Pakistan has joined these pacts with the Western countries, especially the United States, has to do in part at least with reasons other than military ones. That is, they have to do with economic reasons—that in in fact your budget is supported to some 40 percent by the United States. Is that correct?

SUHRAWARDY: Well our budget is supported to some extent, but that is not the reason why we have joined the United States. We were in the same boat as you know. We fought in the same manner. On account of the very religious fundamental principles that we profess.
Therefore this has nothing whatsoever to do with the economic situation. After all, the United Nations is assisting us as it is assisting forty other countries. That's an entirely different matter. But we are not selling our independence or our independence of thought or really even independence of action except for these economic reasons and political reasons.

DOWNS: Well Mr. Prime Minister—

SUHRAWARDY: But should the United States choose to cut it off, we shall still continue on the path which we have started down.

ROBERTS: Is 40 percent a correct figure of the amount of your budget which comes by one means or another in the form of American help?

SUHRAWARDY: Well I wouldn't—no, I don't think so. I think the great portion of the foreign exchange which is available to us for our development purposes—that comes from the United States because most of our foreign exchange is committed to meeting our own defense requirements.

DOWNS: Mr. Prime Minister, you are our bridge between the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and just north of you there is a big nation called China—Communist China—and you've been there recently I believe.


DOWNS: What is Pakistan's relationship and how do you feel about this colossus north of you?

SUHRAWARDY: Well I've told you that our policy is not to have malice against anyone, and so long as China does not interfere with us I see no reason why I should interfere with China. But China has got a very important place in world politics and you have to wait—it is trying to reconstruct itself.

DOWNS: Do you think that the United States should recognize China?

SUHRAWARDY: That is a matter of policy for the Unites States, and I think that only recently your Secretary of State Mr. Dulles has given what he considers to be very adequate reasons why China should not be recognized.

DOWNS: Do you agree with it?

SUHRAWARDY: To some extent I must say that—

ROBERTS: Mr. Prime Minister, you have diplomatic relations—does your government have diplomatic relations with Peking or with the Formosa government?

SUHRAWARDY: No, our government has diplomatic relations with the Peking government.

MADIGAN: Your communiqué—yours and President Eisenhower's—spoke of "exerting influence" in the Middle East to solve the problem there, the Israeli-Arab problem. What do you specifically mean? What type of influence, and how would you exert it?

SUHRAWARDY: Well I think that Palestinian question or the Israeli problem has got to be solved if we are ever going to be certain about peace in the Middle East. And I think that it is the duty of all persons of good will to do whatever they can in bringing about this peace.

MADIGAN: What specifically can Pakistan or the United States do?

SUHRAWARDY: Well, I think that they could bring the two parties together. They could try and reason with—

MADIGAN: Outside the United Nations?

SUHRAWARDY: Yes, outside the United Nations.

MADIGAN: In other words you're calling upon the United States to act as an individual mediator in this problem?


DOWNS: How about Pakistan? Would you be willing to be a mediator in this problem?

SUHRAWARDY: Yes, I think so.

DOWNS: There have been some speculations, Mr. Prime Minister, that you have ambitions to lead the Muslim world or at least pull it together. Mr. Nasser also has similar ambitions. Where do you stand on this struggle for the Muslim world, if there is one?

SUHRAWARDY: I think there is no struggle. If Mr. Nasser has got ambitions, well, let him pursue his ambitions. I have no such ambitions. All that I have been wanting to do is to bring the Muslim world together so that they can sit down at the same table, discuss matter amongst themselves. All these disputes which exist between the member nations may be resolved. International—with regard to international disputes—we may be able to put forward suggestions which may be able to resolve them. And so far as leadership is concerned, my view definitely is that if any country desires to get the leadership of the Muslim world then that combination, namely the Muslim world coming together, is bound to fail.

ROBERTS: Mr. Prime Minister, how is Pakistan in a position to exert any influence in the Middle East conflict between the Arabs and the Israelis when you have recently said of Israel, "We have never recognized it and we shall never recognize it." You are entirely on one side of that controversy are you not?

SUHRAWARDY: Well I'm afraid that is the position of Pakistan because I think that the creation of Israel was wrong. But after all there is Israel and everyone realizes that there must be an adjustment and an agreement between the Arab world—between the Arab nations that resent the existence of Israel, and Israel itself. An agreement of this nature connotes that they recognize the existence of Israel. That they recognize that, if there is an agreement between these two parties, then one of the parties is not exterminated.

ROBERTS: You would advise all the Muslim nations to accept Israel as a fact of life?

SUHRAWARDY: I'm afraid there is no other alternative. But there's no reason why Pakistan should recognize its existence as something's a fact; it's a very unpleasant fact.

MADIGAN: Mr. Prime Minister, doesn't your discussion here regarding China, Israel, Egypt, all these countries, the United States, Russia—you say don't tilt at windmills, don't start a war. Does this not place you a little bit in the position of, similar to Nehru's, nonalignment and like everybody?

SUHRAWARDY: Oh no. No. On the other hand we say this, that if there is aggression in respect of any of the countries with which we have agreed, it will be the duty of Pakistan to enter into the fray.

MADIGAN: You're saying then that all these pacts are only defensive pacts...

SUHRAWARDY: They are defensive.

MADIGAN: ...and that no more economic pressure should be brought to bear on any of these parties in the communist sphere of the world

SUHRAWARDY: Well I'm sure that that must also be the policy of the United States...

MADIGAN: Is it your policy?

SUHRAWARDY: ...not to have aggression

MADIGAN: Is it your policy to bring other pressures to bear on these nations?

SUHRAWARDY: Well I think—as I do not believe in their ideology. I think that we should try and see that they conform more to the things that we believe in. And possibly there are internal pressures as you can see now visible in these countries from which one can hope that there is going to be a change in the internal policy of—

HERMAN: Mr. Prime Minister—excuse me, Bill—you personally are pushing for wide general elections in your own country, yet one of your neighbors to the South, another distinguished Muslim leader Mr. Sukarno, has said that he thinks that the people of Asia are not yet ready for this broad kind of democracy. What is your answer to that?

SUHRAWARDY: Well Mr. Sukarno might speak for his country but not for ours. I think that we are. I think that the British have given us sufficient background to have. They have brought us up in that—within that atmosphere of democracy.

HERMAN: If I may follow your line of thought then you do not feel that the Dutch people gave the Indonesians enough of that kind of background?

SUHRAWARDY: I wouldn't like to go into the internal history of Indonesia.

DOWNS: Well Mr. Prime Minister, do you fear in your own country an ideological invasion from the north? In other words, do you have a political threat of communism in Pakistan?

SUHRAWARDY: Well I must say that attempts have been made to infiltrate into our country and there has been a certain amount of spread of communism. And unfortunately communist countries themselves have not to that extent directly interfered with that, or have infiltrated but have utilized neutral countries.

ROBERTS: You're saying that, are you saying sir that this communist spread of subversion is coming through the Indian Communist Party rather than centering, say, at the embassies of the Soviet Union and Chinese communists?

SUHRAWARDY: Well that's rather an embarrassing question, but there is no question about it that there are Indian agents in our country that are preaching communism amongst our people.

DOWNS: Well Prime Minister, recently our ally Britain changed her mind or at least diverted from our policy to liberalize her trade with Red China. Are you also going to liberalize your trade with Red China?

SUHRAWARDY: Well we have been trading with Red China to some extent. We have been selling it cotton we have been taking from them coal, which we need. I do not think that our trade can be of such a nature as can be considered to be of strategic value to China.

ROBERTS: At the start of the program, Mr. Prime Minister, you spoke of personal contacts with President Eisenhower; said they're good because it dispelled certain doubts. What doubts did you have concerning the United Sates or President Eisenhower?

SUHRAWARDY: Did I use the word—

ROBERTS: You didn't use the word "doubt." You said, "not clear in each other's minds what you were thinking or what the United States was thinking."

SUHRAWARDY: No. On the other hand possibly we were more confirmed in our views as to our attitude, and—

ROBERTS: Did you get everything you wanted while you were in Washington?

SUHRAWARDY: No, I didn't come here for a anything—not everything That's something that's gone wrong with you all to think that anybody who comes here, comes here with the idea of wanting something. Surely coming here and talking to your leaders means that I can also contribute something in the matter of thought.

ROBERTS: That wasn't said in the term of derogation, Mr. Prime Minister. It meant the legitimate desires that you might have.

SUHRAWARDY: Well, we all know the position and the relationship that exists between us, and that's that. Certainly we come here in order to make friends and to know the people more and to have personal contacts [inaudible] about the civilization and culture of your country.

ROBERTS: You want a "meeting of minds" is what you're saying, not merely material things.

SUHRAWARDY: Well I should put it like that Mr. Roberts. That probably is correct. I mean it's true I don't place myself on the par of the United States by any means. The United States is a very great country, and it has given a certain moral philosophy which did not exist before. Namely the country helping other smaller countries is something which people did not realize could be done.

HERMAN: I'm afraid that's all the time we have Mr. Prime Minister. Thank you very much for coming here to face the nation. Our thanks also to our panel of distinguished newsmen, Chalmers Roberts of The Washington Post and Times Herald, Bill Downs of CBS News, and John Madigan of Newsweek. This is George Herman.