Posted by: Administrator | 9 July, 2006

President addresses Joint Session of Philippine Congress

19 April 2005

MANILA, April 19: President Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday called upon Islamic and Western nations to reject a ‘clash of civilizations’ and urged Muslim countries to oppose extremism.

Addressing a joint session of the two houses of the Philippine Congress, President Musharraf also called for a rejection of terrorism, but asked the developed world to address the political and economic deprivations in poorer countries that give rise to the menace. “We must reject the false notions of ‘clash of civilizations’, especially conflict between Islam and the West,” he said, adding that “terrorism or extremism has no religion”.

President Musharraf reaffirmed Pakistan’s role as “part of the international coalition against terrorism,” but said the world must do more to address its ‘root causes’.

The president called upon Muslim states to practise ‘enlightened moderation’ and “reject extremism and intolerance and promote socio-economic development that is lacking in many Islamic societies”. He also urged “Western nations to help resolve long-standing political disputes that have caused so much pain in the Islamic world”.

President Musharraf referred to the reforms carried out by his government, saying democracy had progressed and economic growth and stability had been sustained under his administration. He said he hoped Pakistan would become a ‘dynamic and moderate Islamic country,’ but added that “our neighbourhood has remained disturbed,” due to turmoil in Afghanistan and dispute with India over Kashmir.

The president also vowed continued support for Philippine peace efforts aimed at ending a decades-old insurgency through negotiations and called upon the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to adopt the course of peace. The Philippine government in turn, must respect the rights, tradition and culture of its Muslim minority who are based in Mindanao, he added. “I urge the Muslims of the Philippines, my brothers in faith, to shun the path of confrontation, suppress extremism and contribute to the socio-economic progress of their country,” he said. 

 “We admire the courage and determination of the Philippine government in the peace process,” the president said, adding that he was optimistic the government would eventually seal a peace accord with the MILF.

Meeting: Earlier, President Musharraf and his Philippines counterpart Gloria Arroyo held a one-to-one meeting during which the two leaders agreed to develop a vibrant trade and economic relationship.

 President Musharraf was given a military welcome at the Malacanang presidential palace ahead of his talks with President Arroyo.

The two presidents also agreed to boost intelligence cooperation to combat terrorism. They were of the opinion that vast prospects existed for mutually-beneficial economic and trade relations. President Arroyo said she compared notes with Gen Musharraf on their respective governments’ campaigns against terrorism. “He believes as much as I do that when we fight terrorism, there is the military aspect and then there’s the socio-cultural aspect,”

President Arroyo told a news conference after the bilateral talks. “So on the military aspect, we agreed to enhance our intelligence exchange,” She said. “It’s very important in the world of international terrorism,” she said, adding that her country would try to learn from Pakistan’s experience in dealing with religious schools promoting militancy.

President Arroyo said both countries would also work together in addressing the root causes of terrorism through enhancing ‘inter-faith leadership dialogue’ to moderate teachings in madressahs. The Philippines president said she had instructed her national security adviser, Norberto Gonzales, to meet senior officials from Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) in June to “enhance our technical intelligence exchanges”.

President Musharraf also sought Manila’s help in securing a free-trade agreement with the Association of South East Asian Nations, saying it would provide better access to Pakistani products in many areas. The Philippine leader assured President Musharraf of her country’s active role in this regard. The two presidents also exchanged views on regional and international issues of common concern, including Afghanistan and the Pakistan-India peace process.

President Arroyo said Manila appreciated President Musharraf’s efforts for establishment of durable peace in South Asia through a composite dialogue process with India. “We believe in harmony in the region and peaceful resolution of all disputes,” she added. The two leaders decided to augment cooperation between private sectors, with President Arroyo saying that her country would import pharmaceuticals from Pakistan, which were not only inexpensive but also of good quality.

President Musharraf asked President Arroyo to facilitate import of Pakistani rice to her country, saying Pakistani rice ranked among the best in the world. President Arroyo expressed hope that the first-ever visit by the Pakistani head of state would impart a new vigour to bilateral ties. Reciprocating her views, President Musharraf extended an invitation to the Philippine leader to visit Pakistan, which she accepted.

Later, senior aides joined the two leaders in delegation-level talks, focusing on enhancing bilateral cooperation in various fields, including fight against terrorism. Documents 241 The two presidents witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding that would serve as a “legal framework to facilitate cooperation and inter-operability between the security, intelligence and law-enforcement agencies of the two countries”. The two sides signed an agreement on cultural exchanges for promoting cooperation through people-to-people contacts.

The United Marketing of Pakistan and the Philippine International Trading Corporation signed an accord for increased supply of pharmaceuticals to the Far Eastern country. The two countries concluded an agreement on abolition of visa requirement for holders of diplomatic passports.

Commerce Minister Humayun Akhtar Khan, Minister for Culture and Youth Affairs Mohammad Ali Durrani, Minister of State for Religious Affairs Dr Aamir Liaquat Hussain and Adviser to the Prime Minister on Women Development Nilofar Bakhtiar, Foreign Secretary Riaz Khan and Information Secretary Shahid Rafi assisted President Musharraf at the delegation-level talks

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