Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan's Ambassador to the U.S., on Fox News Sunday

Following is a transcripted excerpt from Fox News Sunday, June 2, 2002.

BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS: With nuclear war an actual possibility, world leaders are working to ease the tense military standoff in South Asia between India and Pakistan. Almost a million troops from both sides have been exchanging fire across the so-called Line of Control, which separates India- and Pakistan-controlled areas of Kashmir.

For the Pakistani view of this crisis, we welcome Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan's ambassador to the United States. Also here with questions is Fox News contributor Fred Barnes.

Good morning, Madam Ambassador. Welcome.


HUME: I want to start by showing something that President Bush said this week and ask you to respond to it. Let's listen.


PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: We are a part of a international coalition applying pressure to both parties, particularly to President Musharraf. He must stop the incursions across the Line of Control. He must do so. He said he would do so. We and others are making it clear to him that he must live up to his word.


HUME: Well, there you have it. The United States wants those incursions stopped.

Has President Musharraf moved to stop them, and have they stopped?

LODHI: I think there are two things here. What you didn't show President Bush saying was that war is not in the interests of either party, and we agree entirely with that. And, as you know, the country that's been threatening war is India, not us. We have made it very clear we will not be the country to initiate any conflict or any hostilities.

President Bush has called upon us in Pakistan to control and to stop what is described as cross-border infiltration. President Musharraf has repeatedly said that he will stand by his word, the word that he gave in January of this year, when he said that there will be no cross-border infiltration.

But I think it's very important to ask India whether it is also responding to the call of the international community.

HUME: We will have an opportunity to do that in a few minutes, when we have your Indian counterpart here, but right now the question is to you, Madam Ambassador...


HUME: ... is whether those incursions have indeed stopped.

LODHI: We have told the international community that we will stand by our word. And I think it's very important for the international community to respond to one of our proposals, which is to have a verifiable mechanism on the Line of Control, so that there is an impartial, neutral mechanism for the future, to verify these allegations.

Otherwise what we're going to see in South Asia is the two countries, every three years, every three months, getting back to the brink, back to the edge of the precipice. And I don't think that's in the interest of either country or the world.

HUME: Well...

LODHI: We need a neutral mechanism, a neutral monitoring force on the Line of Control that can verify the allegations that are made from time to time.

HUME: From the Pakistani viewpoint, you have forces out there in that area. Surely you have intelligence, and surely you have some influence, which gives rise, indeed, to the promise that has been made by President Musharraf that he would indeed curb, indeed try to stop these incursions.

So what do you say to the question of whether they have stopped or not?

LODHI: As I have said, the president repeated only yesterday that there is no cross-border infiltration, and that the orders that he gave in January of this year are being complied with and are being implemented. There is no state patronage or government patronage of any kind of cross-border movement.

Let me also point out that, on this Line of Control, India has deployed 250,000 troops on the line itself. Of course India has deployed 600,000 troops within Kashmir itself, and it's deployed them for a long time. This Line of Control is heavily mined. It has three layers of Indian troops.

So the question that has to be asked of India as well is, how is it that this cross-border infiltration takes place, with such huge deployments?

I think we have an issue here which needs to be addressed. The issue is the issue of Kashmir, which lies at the source of tensions between the two countries. And unless we address the substance of this issue...

HUME: We will certainly be addressing some questions to the Indian ambassador about that.


BARNES: What about the camps in Pakistan, across the Line of Control from the Indian-held part of Kashmir, where these camps have sent, dispatched -- people have gone across the border and committed acts of terrorism? Are these camps being dismantled?

LODHI: Let us make it very clear that Pakistan condemns every act of terrorism...

BARNES: Well, I know that, but I asked about these camps in particular.

LODHI: As far as Pakistan's soil and territory is concerned, we have said it very clearly, repeatedly, that we will not allow our soil and territory to be used by any terrorist group trying to carry out actions against any country in the world.

Let me tell you that, when we gave our word to the international coalition, when the war on terrorism began, we came through, we delivered. In fact, the United States, as well as the rest of the international coalition, could not have achieved the significant gains that were achieved in Afghanistan without our help.

BARNES: Let me try...

LODHI: We stand by our word. When we say that our territory and soil is not going to be used, we mean everything.

BARNES: And does that mean that these camps are being dismantled or have been dismantled?

LODHI: As I said to you, we have given an assurance to the world, we have committed ourselves, we are trying to contain militancy in our own country. We are dealing with the fallout of two long, protracted conflicts in our region.

Now, what we ask of the international community are two things: One, patience.


LODHI: These are processes. These take time.

Second, that India must also respond to the call of the international community to exercise restraint. We in Pakistan will not respond to military intimidation and military threats.

BARNES: What about...

LODHI: What we will respond to are reasonable proposals.

BARNES: Well, what about if India has a limited raid, Indian troops have a limited raid into Kashmir, the Pakistani-held part of that, to rout out these camps, would Pakistan respond with nuclear weapons?

LODHI: I think to talk about nuclear weapons in such a cavalier way would be hugely irresponsible. My president has already said that even contemplating a nuclear conflict is irresponsible and would be insane.

However, let there be no mistake that these fancy notions of limited war, hot pre-emption are dangerous illusions in the minds of Indian strategic and military planners. If there is any aggression that is committed against my country, my country will respond appropriately in self-defense.

HUME: Now, you have no -- you have a policy of no first use of force, but unlike India, no policy of no first use of nuclear weapons. So that does raise the question of what would be a potential trigger.

Fred has given one scenario, which is limited action along that borderline. And the question he put to you, which you didn't quite answer, is, would that be enough to trigger the defensive use, which you -- that was considered the defensive use of nuclear arms.

LODHI: To begin with, just like the United States and just like NATO do not subscribe to a no-first-use doctrine, we don't either. You know why? Because we believe a no-first-use doctrine is of only rhetoric and propagandous value and has no meaning in an operational sense. In a theater of conflict, it has no meaning, which is why the U.S. and NATO have rejected this for more than half a century.

HUME: There's a hotline between Islamabad and Delhi for this very kind of situation. Is it working?

LODHI: I cannot engage in a discussion on the fact that there could be a nuclear conflict, because I...

HUME: Well, what about the hotline?

LODHI: ...because I think...

HUME: It's just a telephone. Does it work?

LODHI: Well, the hotline between the DG military operations of the two countries has been used during this crisis. It's not...

HUME: So, it's working?

LODHI: It's not been operational for some days now, which is why we think the international community has a huge role to play, because the Indians refuse to talk to us. The Indians reject dialogue. We have advocated a peaceful resolution of this crisis. We think the stakes are too high in a nuclearized region for the two countries not to be talking.

Only yesterday, the president said he would be willing to meet with Prime Minister Vajpayee at this regional summit in Kazakhstan, which starts in a day's time. India has said no again.

What are we to do with the neighbor that refuses to talk to us, a neighbor that refuses to resolve issues politically and through diplomatic means?

HUME: Of interest to people in this country, one last question, Madam Ambassador, is whether the nuclear weapons which Pakistan possesses are in full control of its military and in full control of elements loyal to President Musharraf?

LODHI: Our nuclear capability has always been in safe hands and remains so. We have an impeccable record of nuclear safety and security. So the world need not worry on that score. What the world needs to worry about is the fact that how can two countries in this very dangerous part of the world continue down the road that they're continuing because India just refuses to talk?

HUME: Madam Ambassador, it's very nice to have you. Thank you very much for coming.

LODHI: Thank you.

HUME: And we'll have India's side of all this after a break.