WASHINGTON: With power virtually resting with the army in Pakistan even during a democratic regime, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wonders "who to
deal with" or negotiate with in Islamabad.
"I think the most important force in Pakistan is the army," he said in an interview with CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS" Sunday coinciding with his four-day state visit to US when asked who he thought was running Pakistan right now?
"And there is democracy. We would like democracy to succeed and flourish in Pakistan. But we have to recognize that the power at present rests virtually with the army."
Asked if he felt he had a partner in Pakistan right now with whom he can negotiate, Manmohan Singh said: "Well, I don't know whether we have a partner right now."
The prime minister said when General Pervez Musharraf was the president of Pakistan, "I used to ask him. And he said, 'Well, I am the army. I represent the armed forces. I represent the people.' Now I don't know who to deal with."
Asked if looking at the situation in Pakistan, he was worried about the collapse of the state and the nuclear weapons moving into the hands of either some radical element within the army or terrorists, Manmohan Singh said: "Well, we worry about all these contingencies."
"But we have been assured by the Americans that they are satisfied that's not going to happen."
Asked if he saw any prospects for productive negotiations on Kashmir with Pakistan as he was reportedly close to some kind of a deal with Musharraf, he reiterated that while there can be no redrawing of borders, greater people-to-people contacts would make borders irrelevant.
"Well, I have publicly stated that there can be no redrawing of borders," he said "But our two countries can work together to ensure that these are borders of peace, that people-to-people contacts grow in this manner in which people do not, I think, worry whether they are located on this side of the border or that side.
"If trade is free-trade, people-to-people contacts and our both countries competing with each other to give a life of - to enable the people on both sides to lead a life of dignity and self-respect - those are issues which we can discuss. We can reach agreement."