New Delhi — In a recent interview to Toronto Star, published March 10. Gen. Zia said his country would never close its borders to Sikhs. Pakistanis “must carry out their obligation as the guardians of the Sikh holy places,” he said adding, ““‘They are our neighbors. There are Punjabis on our side and Punjabis on the other side of the border.”

While denying that Pakistan had the atom bomb or planned to make it, Gen Zia said what his country was trying to do was develop ‘peaceful uses of the atom, particularly for production of electricity.”’ ‘‘Pakistan,”’ he said, had acquired a “dittle bit of technology. t is a humble, modest, experimental programme to which everyone is saying Pakistan has built a bomb.”

Gen. Zia is reported to have said in the interview that his country had not made an “international uproar’ over the “‘treatment”’ of 100 million Muslims in India. This, he claimed, was a sign of Pakistan’s serious desire for peace with India.

Gen. Zia was quoted as having said, “‘I hope I don’t sound too emotional, but Islam is a universal faith that doesn’t recognize international boundaries or the colour of skin. In our eight years of rule, in spite of the fact that there have been killings, murders, and a very unsympathetic attitude towards Muslims in India. Pakistan has not raised her voice.”

The Pakistan President had made similar comments last year which led to strong reactions in India.

Article extracted from this publication >>  March 29, 1985