Excerpts from President’s Address To The Nation (Enumertaing Performance of his 3 year Governance)
20 November 2002
I would like to present before you my personal conduct and performance of my government during the past three years. The governments are run with the confidence of the people. The people lay their future in the hands of the government. It is incumbent upon the rulers to honour the people’s confidence and fulfil their promises.
I want to remind you about the state of affairs as it existed on 12th of October 1999. I do it because we quickly forget the past. I would like to briefly remind you about it. What did we inherit? Pakistan was about to be declared a terrorist country or a failed state. This danger was confronting us. The ship of the country was facing a severe storm and no way out was in sight. The economy was faced with default. Banks and financial institutions had been looted and plundered. High government officials were involved in corruption. All government institutions, namely PIA, Steel Mills, Railways, KESC were about to be declared bankrupt. The method of governance was getting from bad to worse.
Pakistan was constantly under Indian pressure. The overall atmosphere was that of dismay. As for Pakistan’s economic conditions, we had foreign exchange reserves of about one billion dollars. But out of this amount, the government’s own reserves accounted only for 300 or 400 million dollars. If they are converted into imports, these reserves were barely sufficient for about four weeks of imports. Foreign debts had gone up to 38 billion dollars and were increasing at the rate of one and a half to two billion dollars per annum. As a result 63 percent debts in 1991 stood at 442 billion rupees, which increased to 1642 billion rupees in 1999.
There was recession in the world, second was the continued drought, third the eleventh September incident, which had negative impact on our exports and investment and the fourth jolt was that of warlike situation imposed on us by India. These were the additional jolts to our economy. By the grace of Allahtala, we faced all these difficulties.
Now I would like to tell you about the performance of my government. What we achieved during these three years could not be achieved by the previous governments during the past eleven or twelve years.
Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves which stood at one billion dollars have crossed eight and half billion dollars mark. Looking at these reserves in terms of imports, these are enough for ten months imports as compared to reserves good only four weeks requirements in the past. Insha Allah these foreign exchange reserves will cross the ten billion dollars mark during the current year.
The foreign debts that stood at 38 billion dollars, have been brought down to 36 billion dollars for the first time in Pakistan’s history. That has been reduced by two billion dollars. The debt was increasing as in the past. Our foreign debts would have gone up to 44 to 45 billion dollars. It would not have been reduced to 36 billion dollars. Furthermore we have reduced by four billion dollars the high interest bearing loans which were consuming 63 percent of our budget. Now it stands at 48 percent. This means that now we have more funds left for development projects. The internal debts that were increasing at the rate of sixteen percent annually, have been reduced us for the first time in country’s history.
Due to the measures, as compared to about one hundred billion rupees development expenditure during eight to ten years before 1999, this year we are investing 134 billion rupees on development projects.
During the past three years we have brought this figure to 404 billion rupees raising it from 300 billion rupees, that is, we have increased the tax collection by one hundred billion rupees, the tax collection during previous ten years had increased by one hundred billion and had gone up to 200 to 300 billion rupees which by the grace of Allah had crossed 450 billion rupees during the last three years.
Exports in Pakistan’s history never increased beyond nine billion dollars. We crossed this figure during last two years by nine billion dollars. This is a record for Pakistan. Insha Allah this year our plan is to increase the exports beyond ten billion dollars. Looking at the figures of the first three months exports could increase by about twelve percent, but actually they have increased by fifteen percent. Insha alllah our exports would cross the ten billion dollars mark.
We are spending 130 billion rupees on these development projects. For the progress of agriculture, we are constructing a number of dams, that is water reservoirs, canals and work has begun on the drainage projects. These include Mangla, Merani dam, Gomal Zam dam, Thal Renee Karachi canal. You must have heard that the Chotiari dam project in Sindh has been completed. I shall be inaugurating the project. For improvement of communications system, many mega projects have been started. These include Karachi-Gwadar coastal highway, M-I, Peshawar-Rawalpindi road, M-3, Pindi Bhattian to Faisalabad road.
Northern byepass, which we call m-10, Lyari expressway, Bunder road, ring road and in northern areas, three roads that would attract tourism. You must have heard all about it. Work is going ahead speedily on all these projects. The work on Gwadar port is in progress at a very fast pace. This should have been completed three years back. Now Insha Allah, the way the work is going on, the project shall be completed within 30 months. In Baluchistan, the Saindak copper project, which had been lying abandoned has been revived, producing jobs to many people. We are also laying down double railway track from Karachi to Peshawar.
In the power sector, work on the Thar coal project has started. It was lying abandoned for the last ten years and no one was coming forward to run the project. We have revived the project. This project, Insha Allah Tala will produce gas and electricity. This will not only result in the progress of the region, but will also lead to prosperity of the people in the most backward area.
In the information technology sector, access to internet has been increased from 29 to 850 cities. Bandwidth capacity which was 30 megabyte had been increased to 400 megabyte per second. Bandwidth cost was not such that information technology was not making progress. It has come down from ninety thousand dollars per month to only three hundred thousand and eight hundred dollars per month. It is helping the growth of information technology. Countless software parks, institutes, universities and virtual university have been opened and they are now in operation. Special attention has been given to industrial sector. In textile, one billion dollars investment shall be made for setting up new factories and for the up-gradation of machinery.
We have to improve the quality of life of millions of people. Provision of jobs to a few thousands shall not make any change. Our government has studied the ways and means of removing poverty and carried out an analysis. After that a comprehensive plan has been chalked out, about which I want to tell you. Please listen to me carefully. Before I come to the details, it is important to know the answers about two things. Firstly, the question is as to where the poverty lies and where the poverty is rampant. Only then a plan can be drawn. Poverty in my view is at three places. Firstly it is in the rural areas because sixty to seventy percent of our population lives in the rural areas.
Gwadar port and coastal highway are the important projects that we are constructing. There is lot of fish in this region and dates are produced in abundant in Turbat and Punjgoor which presently is being used as a fodder for the animals. There are one hundred and thirty varieties of dates in the area, but they are all wasted. Insha Allah with the construction of Gwadar port and coastal highway, this produce will find its way to Karachi and foreign markets. This will increase the income of hundreds of thousands of people in the area. There will be more jobs. About increase in earning through land I have already told you.
ADBP, which used to give loans to the rich people and those who were defaulting. Now directive has been issued not to give loans over and above one million rupees and loans of less than one hundred thousand to get much more importance. This will help people earn their living.
Now take the railways, it was incurring 2.5 billion rupees of loss every year. Now this has become a profitable institution. In the first quarter, it has earned half a billion rupees profit. It has employed new engineers, got new coaches. Neat and clean trains are running. These trains are running on time. I have feed back about it. Everyone is appreciating it. All the railway stations are clean and have become modern. This was about railway. Now take the case of PIA, it was about to go bankrupt. Now Insha Allah this year it will earn a profit of 2.5 billion rupees. And we are purchasing new planes for PIA.
Take the case of steel mill. It was running in loss. It owed a loan of 19 billion rupees and this loan was increasing. In these three years, we repaid five billion rupees worth of loans. Now it is running in profit.
Now about WAPDA. It was a sinking organization. It has been reformed to a great extent. I know people used to criticize its performance and still are saying so. But I want to tell you that they have worked very hard to improve it. Let me throw some light on their performance. First of all about IPPS, that is independent power producers. These are private companies which produce electricity. All disputes with them have been resolved. This has helped save six billion dollars or 360 billion rupees. These 360 billion rupees over the life of projects. Their annual income had been to the tune of 93 billion rupees which went up to 18 billion rupees. If these had not been closed, then these IPPS this year would have been paid 109 billion rupees by WAPDA. Where from they could find such a huge sum? Let me tell you that last year WAPDA paid 84 billion rupees to the IPPS and next year you must know that WAPDA would have to pay 115 billion rupees to the IPPS whether or not you use the electricity provided by them. By 2004, there will be some decrease in this count.
About the education sector. We have made a complete appraisal about it and have done planning in four areas. This related to literacy campaign, primary and secondary education, higher education and madressa education. At primary education level, we have introduced new syllabus, new curriculum and new books have been published, which are being introduced in the schools. After that in rural areas and the urban areas, there will be similar syllabus. Special attention has been paid to training of teachers. Hundreds of thousands of teachers have completed training.
A new university ordinance has been enforced. I know there have been strikes in many universities against this ordinance. I want to point out that the teachers and the students are brothers. You must know that our universities are in a very bad shape. There is no doubt about it. Do you have any doubt about it? If we want to bring about improvement then new planning is must. If we have to develop the education sector, we will need new planning otherwise we not change and the country will never be able to make progress. I am glad that professor Ata-ur-Rahman has talked to the vice chancellors and the students and they have almost reached a settlement.
In the field of science and technology, we plan to institute linkage between the industry and the university. The universities should impart education in subjects which relate to the industry. There should be increase in exports and import substitution as well. In this field we have greatly increased the budgetary provisions for pioneer education. In 1999, the budget of the ministry of science and technology was only 140 million rupees, that is point two billion rupees. This year we have raised their budget to 6.74 billion rupees.
In law and order, far reaching and revolutionary changes have been brought about. 140 years old obsolete police act has been replaced by police ordinance 2002. Entry into police service has been made through merit and this is the criteria. Posts above ASI are being filled through public service commission and those of constables through a board. The posts are being filled on the pattern of army’s ISSB system and far better people are coming forward. Police responsibilities have been re-allocated. That is, their responsibility of prosecution has now been handed over to the provincial prosecution service, which is being introduced.
Three and a half billion rupees have been provided for providing transport and communication facilities and accommodation to the police.
Anti terrorist institutions are being set up at the centre and in the provinces. They have carried out very successful operations and have eliminated most notorious gangs and individuals and arrested a number of them. The most important in the police reforms is that the police is now answerable to the peoples representatives.
As for the accountability, the national accountability bureau has been set up. Its work is satisfactory and I know there is criticism about them. Results are not hundred percent. But whatever work they have done, I want to tell you it has never been done in the history of Pakistan.
Overall, they have regularized an amount of 160 billion rupees. All their actions have been across the board and non discriminatory and it started from the top. They apprehended people nobody could touch in the past. They took action against 532 government servants, 180 politicians, 150 businessmen and 18 military personnel.
Our government followed a successful foreign policy during the most critical juncture. Alhamdo lillah Pakistan’s prestige has increased. We have good relations with all the countries. These include china, gulf countries, turkey, SAARC member states, the us, European union countries, Japan, south east Asia, central Asian republics, Islamic countries. With all of these countries our relations are good.
As for relations with India, we always kept aloft Pakistan’s sovereignty and honour. We did not accept any pressure. We promoted the Kashmir cause I the world. I personally raised voice for the supremacy of Islam in all the international for a.
Besides this, the government allowed freedom to the media. There is no precedence that media ever enjoyed such freedom in Pakistan’s history.
Now in conclusion, let me mention the political reforms. There was never true democracy in Pakistan and political governments never came to the expectations of the people. To say that they were not allowed time is totally wrong. As I said earlier over the past twelve years before 1999, every government had about two and a half to three years time. This is the time span that our government got. For this there was a dire need for political reforms. The first question arises as to why democracy failed in Pakistan. In my view there are two reasons.
There was no effective institution to check and oversee government’s corruption and incompetence. Secondly, no power was given to the people at the lower level to resolve their problems. People were never given any power. We started the political reforms from the local level. Local governments came into being as a result of silent revolution in august 2001. The people have been empowered in financial and administrative matters. Government officials have been placed under the peoples representatives. So much so the police too will be answerable to the peoples representatives. Women, minorities, labourers, farmers have been given special representation. It is the duty of all of us to ensure the working of the local governments so that the peoples problems are solved at the local level.
In the end, I fulfilled my commitment by holding the elections in October in accordance with the verdict of the supreme court. These elections were totally impartial and transparent. There were some allegations but I consider them baseless.
I have placed before you honestly the performance of my government. As I have stated I also am issuing a white paper about it. I assure you that whatever I have done, it was for the betterment of Pakistan and its people. Every step that I took was guided by the spirit of honesty, sincerity and patriotism. There can be mistakes. But the intention has always been good. The country is still faced with countless problems. Most of them are self created. Their solution may be difficult, but not impossible. Pakistan has the resources and the people have the potential. Pakistan first, should be our spirit and our motto. Our government has shown the right path and corrected the direction of the country. The ship of the nation has been steered clear out of the stormy seas and is well set on its destination. Now it is the duty of the elected government to get the country its due place.