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June 8, 1999
Few Americans realise gravity of the Kashmir problem, says Kissinger
"If you ask an American for a solution on Kashmir, you will get an American solution," quipped Nobel Laureate Henry Kissinger. "And that is why I cannot give advice on the issue. But I am sure an acceptable solution will come out soon between the two countries."
According to the former American secretary of state, there is very little coverage of the Kashmir problem in the United States. "Most Americans don't know how serious this problem is," he said while delivering a lecture on Political and Economic Challenges of the 21st Century in the emerging scenario of globalisation.
Asked his opinion on India's nuclear tests and the subsequent sanctions imposed on the country, Kissinger was diplomacy personified: "If I were an American president, I would do what Clinton has done. But if I were an Indian prime minister, I would do what the Indian prime minister has done," he said.
For good measure, he added, "I believe India and the US must have a joint discussion on the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty."
On globalisation, Kissinger said, "Events in one country affect all other countries. The recent crisis in Thailand had its effect on many countries. So, in a way today we all are dependent on one another."
But he stressed that free trade also brings its own problems. "There are many countries in Africa that have been left behind. They do not have any opportunity and I believe they must be given some opportunity to lead a dignified life."
Expressing concern at the global flow of capital, he said, "There are two types of funds -- equity capital and speculative capital. And we have to differentiate between the two."
In his opinion, speculative capital does not address local conditions. It merely takes advantage of local conditions to make money.
"We in America must remember that the countries that are emerging markets have great potential and that is where the US has to broaden its base. India is among the best environments for investment," he added.
Commenting on the Indian bureaucracy, he said, "I was once told by an American that the Indian bureaucracy drives him mad. I told him that if he can solve the Indian bureaucracy, he can solve any problems in life."
Asked why he got President Richard Nixon to send the US Seventh Fleet into the Bay of Bengal during the Indo-Pak war of 1971, Kissinger said, "I hope you will appreciate that I made a terrible mistake." But he clarified his position by stating that in those days America had joined hands with China and Pakistan was party to the alliance.
"We agreed that Bangladesh must be free, but India's then prime minister Indira Gandhi was a strong and tough leader. And she did not want a state created by American intervention to be India's neighbour," he said.
According to him, the Americans thought that having liberated Bangladesh, the Indian forces would move into West Pakistan as well. Mrs Gandhi refused to give any assurance against such a move. "That is why we moved in the Seventh Fleet. It was a move during the Cold War."
PHOTOGRAPH: JEWELLA MIRANDA
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