Posted by: Administrator | 21 July, 2006

President at Harvard University, USA

Speech by the President General Pervez Musharraf  at the Harvard University, USA

September 8, 2002  President Musharraf

President Dr. Larry Summers, Dean Nye, Distinguished Members of the Faculty, Alumni, Ladies and Gentlemen.

It is a pleasure to be in Cambridge again after my visit last February and indeed a privilege to be hosted by Harvard University and to address its alumni.

I am thankful to you, President Summers, for your gracious invitation. I would also like to thank Dean Nye and the Kennedy School, for organizing this evening’s programme.

Harvard is synonymous with the spirit of inquiry, learning, and academic excellence. Harvard’s contribution in expanding the frontiers of human knowledge is universally recognized. It has produced seven US Presidents and some 40 Nobel laureates of whom two are from the family of President Summers.

Ladies and Gentlemen, today I would like to share with you my vision of Pakistan in the 21st century.

We are striving to build a modern, moderate, tolerant and a progressive, democratic, Islamic state. Regionally and internationally, we wish to be a force for peace and stability, and a reliable partner of the world community. On the civilizational plane, we see Pakistan as an important bridge between the Islamic world and the West.

The inspiration for our vision comes from our founding father – Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. He was a true Renaissance man, passionately attached to the idea of modernity. He desired his new country to be progressive and pluralistic internally, and a promoter of amity among nations externally. He wanted his Pakistan to be, “At peace within, and at peace without.”

This was the guiding light when we began our journey as an independent nation in August 1947. It was a remarkably hopeful moment. We made quick strides in many spheres and created an impact internationally. But in the decades of the 80s and 90s we lost our way. Successive leaders failed to address mounting economic, political and social challenges. The people became disenchanted.

When I came to office three years ago, I had one overriding objective – to stem the drift and change the course to construct a future of hope for our people. We accepted the challenge and initiated a far-reaching process of national reconstruction, reform and renewal. At its core, this reform process seeks economic revival, good governance, stable and enduring democracy, and social harmonization.

Our top priority has been the revival of the economy. Sound economic policies and strict management and control have been put in place to correct macro-economic imbalances, reform the revenue system, correct chronic budget deficits, restore investor confidence and achieve sustainable long-term growth. Four key sectors have been selected to be the engine of growth, namely: agriculture, small and medium-sized industries, energy, and Information Technology (IT). Positive results have emerged. The basic macro-economic indicators are now in sync and Pakistan’s economy is poised for sustainable growth. However, challenges do remain. The principal challenges are; debt reduction and poverty alleviation.

Establishment of the rule of law and good governance is another key priority. The writ of the State has been strengthened. Specific steps such as de-weaponization, de-politicization of State institutions, dispensation of justice, transparent public accountability and measures against corruption are underway.

Growth of civil society has been steadfastly nurtured. This is the essential infrastructure of democracy. Community-based programmes of economic development and political participation are central in our endeavours. The devolution plan and strengthening of municipal bodies has generated a silent revolution at the grass-roots level, which is bringing visible change in the lives of the people in their towns and villages throughout Pakistan. Our objective of building a human rights culture flows from this philosophy. Special emphasis has been placed on police and jail reforms, protection and promotion of the rights of minorities, and the empowerment of women.

Deepening the roots of democracy is very important. Through the devolution plan, we have instituted a system that empowers people at the grass-roots. An unprecedented 33 per cent seats in local government have been reserved for women. This is the most powerful tool for gender empowerment.

I have promoted a dialogue with religious scholars to ensure that militancy and religious extremism have no place in our society. Madrassah reforms and reform of the public education system would continue to be implemented with resolve. I remain determined not to allow a fringe element to hold the entire nation hostage and hijack our agenda of reform.

We have always imagined Pakistan’s future to be fully democratic. Our democratic transition is well underway and would reach culmination with national elections in October. We are convinced that sustainable democracy can only thrive if it has deep roots and appropriate checks and balances. We have, therefore, instituted necessary constitutional changes.

I am convinced that success in these endeavours will fundamentally re-orient Pakistan in keeping with our vision and to respond to the aspirations of the people of Pakistan. I remain personally committed to the continuity and sustainability of this reform process.

In the 21st century, we envision Pakistan as a strong force for regional peace and stability, engaged with its neighbours in a partnership for prosperity and a reliable interlocutor of the world community on global issues. Our foreign policy shall be crafted to meet the challenges and opportunities arising from this vision.

Pakistan is and will remain a key member of the global coalition against international terrorism. The strategic decisions we took after September 11 are consistent with our moral principles and national interests. Our unstinting support has been critical in the battle against terrorism. This support would continue until our shared objectives are fully met and the evil of terrorism is completely eliminated.

Pakistan would also continue to participate in international peacekeeping operations worldwide. We are proud of our record on this count, being one of the largest contributors of troops and having participated in many UN peacekeeping operations, since 1947. We consider it a reflection of our unrelenting commitment to international peace.

Over the past two decades, Pakistan has hosted the world’s largest refugee population. For the most part, we have shouldered this heavy burden through our own limited resources. We have done so in recognition of our international obligations and a sense of compassion. We would continue to work with UNHCR and donor countries. The only resolution of the Afghan refugee problem is their return to a secure Afghanistan.

Narcotics trafficking and its links to international crime are a matter of serious concern to the international community. Pakistan is committed to playing its part in rooting out this twin evil. We have achieved impressive results through collaborative efforts with the US and related UN agencies. Our joint battle against these scourges would continue.

The reconstruction and socio-economic development of Afghanistan are critical objectives in our region. Our legitimate interest is to have a friendly Afghanistan on our Western border. We support the Bonn Agreement and the Karzai government. The deployment of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) beyond Kabul would further advance the objectives of reconstruction and internal security in Afghanistan, which are necessary for its revival. Pakistan would continue to make its due contribution to Afghanistan’s re-emergence as a peaceful and economically-viable state.

An enlightened sense of national interest guides our policy of seeking peaceful relations with India. However, our initiatives continue to meet with Indian intransigence. Since September 11, we have faced a relentless Indian campaign to cast Pakistan and the Kashmiris on the wrong side of the terrorism issue. The fact is that Kashmir is a fifty-four years old issue. It is the unfinished business of the creation of independent Pakistan and India. Terrorism has not created the tragedy of Kashmir. To pretend that there is no political problem in Kashmir and that Pakistan is to blame for all the troubles is to endorse injustice and repression over a people who have been denied their right of self-determination for over half a century. The solution lies in giving them their inalienable right to determine their own future in accordance with the resolutions of the UN Security Council.

Pakistan has condemned terrorism – in all forms and manifestations, anywhere in the world. Attempts to paint our position otherwise are sinister and motivated. Pakistan has made major commitments and taken major steps. India must take reciprocal steps in order to impart permanence and sustainability to our initiatives. We await de-escalation and resumption of dialogue.

President Bush, Secretary Powell and senior administration officials have been engaged in efforts for the reduction of tensions in South Asia. There is grave risk, yet nothing to be gained from military brinkmanship. Issues must be resolved peacefully, through political and diplomatic means. From our perspective, India needs to be persuaded that coercive diplomacy is not a viable instrument of policy in our regional environment.

It is also important not to be misled by any electoral exercise that India might stage in Kashmir. The so-called ‘elections’ in Kashmir have had a long history of manipulation by New Delhi. There is no possibility that these can be free, fair, open, transparent and inclusive. These ‘elections’ in any case are no substitute to the plebiscite promised to the Kashmiris by the world community.

Pakistan remains ready to discuss all issues. We are, however, convinced that without meaningful progress towards a resolution of the Kashmir issue in conformity with the wishes of the Kashmiri people, Pakistan-India relations would not normalize. The United States, with friendly ties to both Pakistan and India, is in a unique position to facilitate the resolution of this core dispute between Pakistan and India, which will create the conditions necessary to establish durable peace in our region.

Peace and security in South Asia are vital to the economic development and prosperity in the region. Peace in the region will also contribute significantly to the promotion of international peace and stability given South Asia’s strategic location astride regions with vast natural resources and economic potential.

Ladies and Gentlemen, while world leaders have rightly asserted that the effort to eliminate terrorism is not directed against any religion or a people, there is nonetheless concern among the Islamic nations of the emergence of widespread prejudice and xenophobia. Some people have succumbed to the temptation of easy explanations for the phenomenon of terrorism. They have sought to sow seeds of discord at a time when greater understanding of cultures and civilizations is needed. Hate should have no market. It must be stamped out with the same zeal as marks the fight against terrorism.

Pakistan joined the international coalition against terrorism and by its unstinting support has made a crucial contribution to the war against terrorism. The present war is against terrorism, and not Islam. Pakistan is an important part of the Islamic community, which is composed of over fifty nations and one fifth of humanity.

It is important that we diagnose the malaise and treat the root causes of terrorism. What is it that conjures up such storms in the mind? Why is life so cheap to the suicide bomber – his own and that of the victims? How is the instinct for survival overcome by a death-wish? What peaceful means of redress do a people have when repression and perpetuation of injustice is the only response they receive for there legitimate demands for freedom and dignity. These questions and others have to be faced with honesty and addressed with generosity of spirit. The process must be inclusive whereby a new order is created not biased to sectional interest or values or norms, but in support of a universal vision, if not a universal dream, and to which we could all lay claim of ownership as citizens of the world.

I am an advocate of civilizational dialogue as an important pillar of our strategy. Stereotypes on both sides have caused too much damage. It is time we began dealing with the ‘real’ Islam and the ‘real’ West rather than caricatures of each. The dialogue that Pakistan envisions would be promoted through greater exchanges at all levels, quality academic research by exchange scholars to remove misconceptions, enhanced people-to-people contacts and vigorous public diplomacy programmes to win the ‘hearts and minds’ of ordinary people.

The United States and Pakistan are well-endowed and well-positioned to strengthen their partnership and make a seminal contribution. On our part, Pakistan’s strong Islamic credentials permit us to speak with credibility and to act as a bridge to create more contacts and greater understanding. We must ensure the Islamic world and the West are allies in combating terrorism, and do not at any stage turn into antagonists confronting each other.

The international community understands what we are doing and how important it is for our region and the world. The people of Pakistan have supported me at every step of the way. I have no doubt that we shall achieve Jinnah’s vision and rebuild Pakistan according to the ideals and values that we hold dear and are close to our hearts.

I thank you

Pakistan’s Musharraf speaks at KSG

By Alvin Powell
Gazette Staff

Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf reaffirmed Pakistan’s support for the U.S.-led war on terror during a Sept. 8 speech at the Kennedy School of Government, but drew the line at aiding a U.S.-led war on Iraq, saying Pakistan already “has its hands full.”

Musharraf, speaking amid tight security to a packed ARCO Forum, spent a good deal of his speech describing the problems facing the South Asian nation. In addition to what he called Pakistan’s ongoing involvement in the war on terror, Musharraf spoke about internal reforms aimed at restoring democracy and boosting the economy, and about external conflicts over the disputed region of Kashmir.

“Pakistan has its hands full with so many problems, on our western border, domestically, our internal security. We don’t want to get involved with any other problems,” Musharraf said in response to a student question on possible U.S.-led action against Iraq.

Musharraf was the first of the academic year’s speakers at the Kennedy School’s ARCO Forum, which regularly attracts heads of state and other prominent members of government to address Kennedy School and other Harvard students.

The program was kicked off by Kennedy School Dean Joseph S. Nye Jr., who said the School is crafting an executive education program with Pakistan. Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers introduced Musharraf, saying Harvard’s cooperation with the Asian nation goes back to near the nation’s founding in 1947 and that Musharraf’s presence was a sign of the vitality of the Kennedy School.

Security was extremely tight for the event, with heavily armed police blocking John F. Kennedy and Eliot streets to traffic. Audience members entered the building only after having tickets and identifications scrutinized and passing through metal detectors.

Musharraf’s 30-minute speech emphasized Pakistan’s role as a partner of the international community and a force for stability in the region. Though he seized power in a 1999 coup, Musharraf repeatedly spoke of the importance of establishing a lasting, working democracy in the nation. He said Pakistan’s elected governments over the past three decades have been repeatedly marred by corruption and favoritism.

“All our reforms and political restructuring is aimed at creating sustainable democracy in Pakistan,” Musharraf said, then drawing a laugh from the crowd by adding, “I am extremely democratic; you have to take my word on it.”

Musharraf said there is no place for religious extremism in Pakistan and said educational reforms are being planned that will bring the religious schools closer to the mainstream educational system. He described numerous educational, economic, and political reforms that aim to alleviate poverty, empower women and the poor, and help make Pakistan a valuable, stable international ally in Asia.

“I see Pakistan as a strong force for regional stability,” Musharraf said. “Pakistan is and will remain a key member of the coalition against international terrorism. We wholeheartedly support the Bonn agreement and the [Afghan President Hamid] Karzai government.”

Musharraf spoke at length about the conflict between Pakistan and India over the disputed region of Kashmir, saying it is “unfinished business” remaining from the nation’s creation. He called for an election within Kashmir to determine its future, but denounced elections being held there this week, saying India was likely to manipulate them.

“Kashmir is the unfinished business of the creation of India and Pakistan. The solution lies in giving them their inalienable right to determine their own future,” Musharraf said. “Kashmir remains disputed territory. Without resolution, relations between India and Pakistan cannot be normalized.”

To combat terrorism, Musharraf said, the international community must address its root causes: poverty, military oppression, and stereotypes on both sides. He said a partnership between the United States and Pakistan is a good first step in that process.

“We must diagnose the malaise and treat the root cause,” Musharraf said. “Let us cast away our prejudices and follow a path of reconciliation.”

Though several questions from the audience were pointed, Musharraf appeared at ease as he responded. A few in the audience commented that, although he seized power, Musharraf seemed sincere in his concern for the Pakistani people.

“He is very sincere, very articulate, and very intelligent,” said Ayesha Kahn, a first-year Kennedy School student from Pakistan. Kahn said she is a bit cynical vis à vis army generals who talk about democracy but said she tends to believe Musharraf.

“He does very well fit the role of benign dictator, with his priorities right and working toward the betterment of the country,” Kahn said. “I would like to believe him. I’m quite a fan.”

Vivek Puri, a Kennedy School student whose parents came to the United States from India, said he also believes Musharraf wants the best for his country. Puri said he was impressed with Musharraf’s ability to handle potentially hostile questions from the audience.

“It really speaks to his education and polish,” Puri said. “I was impressed. He really knows how to spin himself.”

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