President Pervez Musharraf’s Address to the Ulema and Mushaikh Conference, Islamabad
January 18, 2002
In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful. Jenab [Mr.] Mehmood Ghazi Sahib, Federal Minister for Religious Affairs. Jenab Zaman Sahib, Chairman Council of Islamic Ideology, Jenab Bhutto Sahib, federal and provincial ministers and all religious scholars (Ulema & Mushaikh) ladies and gentlemen, Assalam-o-Alikum,
Today, I am happy attending this seminar and feel honoured that I have been invited to this conference where religious scholars of great repute are present and I have been provided an opportunity to address them. I am grateful to Dr. Mehmood Ghazi for providing me this opportunity and all those who have come to attend this conference from far-flung areas. Mehmood Ghazi and Zaman Sahib have delivered thought provoking speeches. I fully agree to whatever they have said.
At the moment, there are four subjects under discussion in this seminar i.e. ideology of Pakistan, sectarian terrorism in Pakistan, unity of Muslim Ummah and the responsibilities of religious scholars. When I came to know about these topics, I was thinking that all of them are very important and I am fully confident that you will thoroughly analyse them and deduce better results for the welfare of the country and its people. In my opinion, I have already expressed my views about it in my speech of January 12, 2002, but there are certain points which I would like to point out again and elaborate.
We all know that there is an internal strife in the country and there is also external threat. The challenge before us is to eliminate the internal crisis and avert the external danger. We have also to frustrate the enemy’s design of exploiting our problems emanating from external threat. You know about the presence of the Indian armed forces on our borders. In military terms, the intention of the enemy and capabilities are two things that are to be weighed. A few days back I used to say that war is not possible. I used to say this on the basis of the statements of the Indian leaders which showed their intention but not their capability because they had not deployed their armed forces. They were in their respective cantonments. But when the forces have been deployed, it means they have also developed the strategic capabilities. Now their armed forces are in a position to initiate any aggressive action against Pakistan. Now if they have intention, it can be very dangerous. But, by the grace of God, our armed forces are fully prepared. I have made it clear, time and again, that there should be no doubt in it that our forces are fully alert and capable of not only of defence but also taking any counter offensive action. The second thing is our will and resolve to take action against any aggression and our enemy should know that we have the will and the capability to defend our country against any aggression. And I would like to second the views of Mr. Zaman that our real strength is our own defence and our military strength is the guarantee for peace. Any external power can help us in our defence, in dialogue, in mediation, but our real defence is our own military strength. Nobody can harm Pakistan as long as our own defence is strong. Hence, I am fully confident that by the grace of Allah, there is no possibility of war. We don’t want war. We want peace but if war is imposed on us we are fully prepared to counter it with full might, force and vigour. I lament the statements emanating from the Indian leadership who say “we are judging your actions.” “You have to show actions.” But we have to show no action to anybody. Whatever we are doing, is for Pakistan and for ourselves. We are doing everything we deem appropriate for ourselves, our development and internal peace. We have to show nothing to anybody. We won’t allow anyone to be a judge on us. Nobody should be under any illusion in this regard. Their Defence Minister also has been giving this kind of statements but this is all public posturing. As a saying goes in English, “Being more pious than the Pope,” he does this rhetoric just to maintain his position which is regrettable. He should abstain from giving such statements. As I have said our focus is our own interest and our requirements.
The first thing is to reform our society and to restore tolerance in the society. I have visited China many a times. During my first visit, I happened to travel in a microbus. On the same road there was a cyclist in the middle of the road going ahead of us. His speed was slow. The bus followed the cyclist in a slow speed for five minutes. The bus driver was neither angry nor did he say anything. He continued driving patiently till the cyclist got aside. Here in Pakistan we are always in a mood of fighting and quarrelling. We have to eliminate this atmosphere of squabbling. We have to eliminate terrorism, sectarianism, extremism and rancour.
The second thing is that we have to protect our Kashmir cause, our defence installations, our missile capabilities, revive our economy, improve it, create conducive atmosphere for investment and flourish business activities which ultimately will eliminate poverty.
I know, people say that poverty is pervasive despite of many steps initiated for the revival of the economy. This is true. It saddens me. My heart weeps. The question is what should we do for the poor. I think a lot about it. Ours is a poor country. We have taken unprecedented steps to remove poverty. You know about the strategy of distribution of Zakat. We have distributed thousands of rupees. We are distributing up to 50,000 rupees. We have distributed 2 billion rupees in these three, four months. We expect to spend up to 5 billion rupees in the current fiscal year and we plan to spend up to 5 billion rupees every year enabling the poor people stand on their feet and whoever wants to do some business could do so. In the next three, four years we expect to spend an amount up to the tune of Rs. 20 billion which will benefit 8 to 10 lac families i.e. four to five million people. We have already started this process.
The Khushhal Pakistan Programme also aims at providing employment to the people. I know there are 5 to 6 thousand projects underway, in which 5 to 6 lac people are employed. We are spending billions of rupees on these projects with the objective to eliminate poverty.
Apart from this, the Khushhali Bank also aims at reaching the poor. All these steps are for the poor but they are not sufficient. Revival of economy is the biggest step which will cause more factories, more employment opportunities, more construction work and more jobs. This is the most important step for elimination of poverty which is possible only when law and order situation is improved and peace and stability restored. This will make the investment climate favour able in Pakistan. That’s why I elaborated in detail. Therefore, our three focuses are to bring balance and harmony in the society, to guard our core interest and boost economy in order to eliminate poverty.
As stated by Mehmood Ghazi Sahib, our policy is to develop consensus. I have met you people on many occasions and consulted you. Interacted with you. I am ready to listen to you, sit with you for hours. I have sat with you for hours to listen to your opinions. In this way we are moving ahead with mutual consensus. We have to move together in cohesion. We have to decide unanimously what to do and proceed accordingly. As we know Pakistan is an Islamic Republic with more that 98 per cent Muslims and there is no room for any doubt about it.
In my view our society is divided into three classes. One is westernised modernist, ultra modern, who are in abundance in cities like Karachi and Lahore, who have adopted a wrong path. We definitely want progress in Pakistan but not in the way of the west. The second category is those of sectarian and religious extremist, who nurture extreme views, who do not want to learn anything other than religious knowledge, and want to enforce religious beliefs of their sect upon others. This, too, is wrong and should not happen. There should be some middle path. There should be no division amongst the citizens of Pakistan as progressive or religious. There should be no such division, we all are progressive, we all are religious. At least I have no such confusion. It doesn’t mean that I want to be modern and progressive and have a separate identity for the religious people. In fact we all are Muslims. I am a Muslim. Everyone in this auditorium is a Muslim. We all value our religion high.
Hardly there is any Muslim who does not respect Islam. We are emotional people. Almost all Muslims are like that. It is good to be emotional but there should be no division in it. As I have said we are all progressive, we are all religious.
Now, the question arises what is the path of progress for Pakistan, Islamic Ummah and how we can achieve the betterment of the Islamic world. I brood over it and we all may be doing the same. Our basic objective is the progress of the Islamic world and Pakistan. We have one objective but we differ in the ways to achieve the objective. This is a good thing. Difference of opinion is a healthy sign, provided it does not entail any fighting and killing. As Zaman Sahib has said, in the absence of difference of opinion, we will become a dead community. We are not dead. We can think. People who think, will have difference of opinion. There is no harm in it. But when followed by bickerings and squabbles and fighting and enforcing our views upon others, it will create problem. As I say that nobody can be coerced to change his views. This is my experience of the Army and history is witness to it and you too, can observe it in your daily lives that change comes only through setting your personal example. You set a trend and people follow it. You can’t force people for change. I would like to repeat that there is no need for any coercion or force to change someone. If you want to change someone do it by setting your personal example.
Now coming back to the issue, what is the way to achieve the objective? Should we have to follow the path of confrontation and fighting? In my opinion this is not an appropriate option. It is a folly. Through economic strength and power, others can be forced but it is very difficult without internal stability and strength. First, you must stabilize yourselves internally. Many people complain that our embassies are not working effectively. I say that they will work effectively only when we are strong internally. Unless your internal stature is strong, nobody will pay any heed to you outside. Your Ambassadors will have a say only when your country is strong internally.
Therefore, we will have to improve our internal conditions if we have to make progress and strengthen our country. This will entail women’s development, restoration of self-respect, improvement of society, spread of education and progress of science and technology.
Recently, in a conference on higher education, Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman presented his superb ideas while presenting a comparative analysis of Pakistan and other progressive Muslim countries with many small western countries of EU, proving that we stand nowhere as compared to those tiny western countries whose population is small but their GDP is very high, US $ 200 or 300 billion, and our GDP is $ 6.5 crore, twenty time less. So we have to change this situation. We have to expedite the rate of progress by adopting modern science, technology and modern knowledge.
We have to increase our GDP by opting for engineering and advance technology. Otherwise we will be growing only cotton, wheat and rice. We have to produce import substitutes, we have to grow our industries, we have to grow engineering goods for which we need scientific knowledge.
We also have to rectify our education system. At present there are three systems of education in our country. One, Madrassa education, second, Urdu medium, third, English medium. In my view, all these three systems should be made similar and efforts should be made to make them rectified. We have formulated a policy for the Madaris in the country. In this regard, I have assured you earlier and I would like to repeat that the government has no intention to take control of Madaris, because, it cannot run the Madaris the way they are being run. We don’t have enough resources at our disposal, so we want that you should continue running them. We want to help you only. What I want to tell you is to bring some improvement and nothing else. In my view, this betterment and improvement is possible by teaching other subjects in the Madaris. Because, by introducing other subjects the students coming out of these Madaris will have more knowledge and consequently will have more respect in the society, even If they become prayer leader in a mosque. But if same student of a Madarisa wants to go to Government college or I grant him a scholarship to study there, he should be able to do so or should get an opportunity to join a bank or any other profession. The objective is to make the students of the Madaris effective and valuable members of the society. Who does not want this? It is not something against Islam. In this regard my request to you is that please try to understand this. The subjects included in the Madrassa syllabi, if are difficult to teach, we will provide training for your teachers, provide new teachers and will try to assist you financially. We will utilize our resources for this purpose to their full capacity. My objective is to make these students valuable citizens of the country and to absorb them in society through better education.
Question. Mr. President, we request you to provide us teachers of Computers, English and Mathematics in Madaris. Then you will see our performance, Insha Allah?
Answer. Insha Allah, we will give you, rather I have told Mr. Mehmood Ghazi of my intention to visit Madaris and talk to students personally. You invite me. I will try my best to solve your problems and provide you the assistance you have requested for. We will give you computers, so you can teach your students. We have established an institution, NADRA, which is making identity cards. There are about 8 to 10 thousand computer experts employed there. They are earning Rs. 5000 to 8000 there. I will request all of you to cooperate with us in this process. Ghazi Sahib has established a board for this purpose. You take your exams etc under this system and you will be awarded with certificates equivalent to the degrees of Matric, FA, BA & MA and you will be able to absorb in the society. I know, many of the Madaris are already providing the best education to their students. They have computers. I would like to go and see, we will recognize their certificates. The syllabus of different education system in English and Urdu is being improved. We have to introduce this new education system in these Madaris, so that we can advance our education system simultaneously.
Q. We are all with you but the police should be directed not to harass the religious leaders?
A. If some one is doing it without reason, he is committing excess. But some religious leaders are misusing mosques, as I cited the example of a prayer leader in Karachi, who murdered many people and is proud of it.
Q. You have permitted the use of loudspeaker for the Friday sermon with the instructions that its misuse will result in the withdrawal of this permission. But the police in the country has been given instructions that the use of loudspeaker is prohibited, even for Friday sermon. Would you please explain it? We will abide by what you say.
A. I declare that Friday sermons are allowed on loudspeakers and it will be delivered on loudspeakers and these are our orders. You have known me well by now. I don’t say things, which I don’t do. What I have instructed will be implemented. May I know who has issued this order of prohibition of use of loudspeakers for Friday sermons?
Q. Sir, such orders have been implemented. When I told them that the President has allowed the use of loudspeaker for Friday sermon, they replied that our SSP has ordered us ……?
Q. Some Ulema have been implicated in false cases, with the intention to create hatred against you. Can you terminate these false cases?
A. Obviously, I will abolish all false cases. No one should be implicated in false cases. Your complaint is very serious and we will examine it.
Q. We are quite satisfied with the discussion of December 27, with the Ulema. We will abide by it?
A. Thank you. In the end, about the mental aberration that I talked about in the beginning, that it should be removed. Briefly, I would say that all external problems including Kashmir and other international affairs affecting Muslims should be left for the government to resolve and the government should be trusted in these matters. We will take appropriate steps in this direction, reflecting the wishes of the people of Pakistan. Insha Allah, I will leave no stone unturned and will do the utmost. Therefore, you leave it for the government and for me to handle. However, my request to you all is to support the government to improve the internal situation.
Q. We are with you but you also pull their strings?
A. Tolerate them a little bit. You know the performance of law enforcing agencies regarding implementation of such orders. There will be some problems in the beginning. Probably, there is some misunderstanding. We will find solution to these problems within few days and will rectify everything. Innocent will be let free. Only wrong-doer will be caught. Insha Allah everything will be set right. I repeat my appeal to you clearly that there should be a ceasefire as far as religious sectarianism is concerned. This fight should be stopped. Secondly, there should be similarity in education in the country. I need your help in these two areas. I would expect media to play its role to highlight your views on these issues. Similarly you can express your views on television and participate in live discussions and listen to each other’s views with patience and tolerance.
Now I would like to talk about Muslim Ummah. I have attended the OIC Conference and have visited so many Muslim countries. What I have observed is that we have lagged behind from the rest of the world. Till the 15th century AD, the transfer of technology used to take place from us to the rest of the world. Now it is vice versa and we are left behind. We have to rectify this situation. In my opinion Pakistan can become a beacon of light for rest of the Muslim world. We are very much capable for it. I attended the D-8 Conference in Cairo, which includes the developed Muslim countries but in fact they are not advanced in the comity of nations. There, I had proposed to expand the scope of D-8 Conference to the entire Muslim world. Many of the Islamic countries are advanced in different fields of science and they have scholars too. They should form Centre of Excellence for the entire Muslim Ummah for the spread of these sciences. This will spread education through exchange of knowledge and scholars amongst the Muslim countries. This is the only way to compete others.
When we talk unity of Muslim Ummah, we have to see how this can be achieved. We are all Muslims but the only way to create unity, is our interdependence in the fields of economic and education and benefit each other in these areas. For example, we have COMSTECH, headed by Dr. Attaur Rehman. To benefit Islamic countries in computer technology is our responsibility. Similar Centres of Excellence are needed to be established in the entire Muslim world for furtherance of unity of Muslim Ummah. My attempt would be to talk to the Muslim countries to analyse and define the Unity of Ummah and give it a practical shape instead of rhetoric.
Q. Mr. President you have said that on the issue of Kashmir problem you should be trusted. I applaud your decision regarding selection of Kashmir Committee and representation of the Kashmiris in it. I also commend your role in national affairs. I request you to give representation to religious leaders and the Kashmiri refugees in Pakistan in the Kashmir Committee?
A. OK noted. This was all I had to say. I am grateful to Mehmood Ghazi who invited me. I had a very fruitful interaction with you. I congratulate the management and the Ministry of Religious Affairs for arranging this conference. I am grateful to everyone present here. Whatever points you have raised regarding Friday sermons and nabbing innocent people will be considered and an appropriate action will be taken.