The President, General Pervez Musharraf addressed the Joint Session of the Parliament
Saturday, January 17, 2004
“Chairman Senate Mr Muhammad Mian Soomro, Speaker National Assembly Chaudhry Amir Hussain,
Honourable Members of the Parliament,
First of all, I thank Allah Almighty that all pledges made to the nation including the establishment of real democracy have been fulfilled. It is a matter of pride for me that I am addressing today the elected representatives. I am thankful to the elected representatives and the entire nation for the trust they have reposed in me on behalf of the people.
On this occasion, I am thankful to all members of the Senate, the National Assembly and the provincial assemblies for their condemnation of the Dec 25 suicide attack on me. I would like to make a mention here, of two dreams of Allama Iqbal:
His first dream was the establishment of a separate and independent state for the Muslims of South Asia. His second dream was to turn this state into a model real Islamic welfare state for the world.
The first dream of Allama Iqbal was translated into reality by Quaid-e-Azam in the form of establishment of Pakistan. But, regrettably, on the one hand we could not recognize the real spirit of Islam and on the other hand, our history of more than fifty years and our performance has not been such that could vindicate us before the Quaid-e-Azam.
What blessing has not been showered on our country by Allah? What are the requisites for progress of a country and prosperity of its people? First of all a country should be self-sufficient in meeting its food requirements. Thankfully, we have a fertile land and an irrigation system that render us self-sufficient in food.
The second requirement is water. By the Grace of Allah, we have been blessed with six large rivers and countless small water courses. The third factor is self-sufficiency in energy. Thanks to Allah Almighty we have water, coal, gas and nuclear energy, which can produce most inexpensive energy that can be far more than our requirements. Besides, we need natural resources. Thankfully, our country has been blessed with abundant natural resources, most of which are yet to be explored.
In addition to all these factors, we have hardworking and intelligent people. Just think as to how many countries of the world have been endowed with so many blessings. I think such countries can be counted on fingertips.
The question arises as to what shortcoming has held us back from making full use of our resources and abilities for the progress of our country and prosperity of our people? In my view the biggest reasons have been corruption and nepotism. These are eating us up like termite. The governments in the past have failed due to these. No government organization or corporation could deliver sufficiently. If national institutions do not perform, the government cannot function. How can the country progress then? Let all of us pledge collectively that we shall serve Pakistan and its people honestly and with good intentions so that Pakistan enjoys prosperity and its people may enjoy real welfare and well being.
Now, let’s review the current scenario facing the country. Today, Pakistan is at crossroads, where, if we take right decisions, we will move forward on the path of progress and if wrong decisions are made, the country will have to, God forbid, face critical consequences.
Today, Pakistan faces four dangerous perceptions:
Firstly, we are being held responsible for perpetrating terrorism in Afghanistan from our tribal areas.
Secondly, we are being blamed for terrorism across the Line of Control in Kashmir.
Thirdly, we are also being alleged for proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Fourthly, our society is being perceived as an extremist and intolerant one.
Apart from these negative perceptions, the Muslim Ummah, of which Pakistan is an important member, is faced with difficulties and chaos and Islam is being misperceived as pro-extremism.
Now the question is how to save the country and the Muslim Ummah of this chaos and difficult situation? and what role can Pakistan play in this regard?
We will have to take far reaching and important decisions for a bright future of Pakistan, otherwise the coming generations will pay a very heavy price for our indifference and Allah Almighty will never forgive us. We will have to pull Pakistan out of this negative image and direct the country on to the path of progress and prosperity. Apart from this, we will also have to play our role for the welfare of the Muslim Ummah.
First of all, how can we get rid of this negative image? We will have to launch a massive operation against those foreign elements in our border areas, who can be a source of terrorism in our country and Afghanistan.
The only way to tackle the allegations against us with reference to Kashmir is a peaceful solution of Kashmir and to find its just solution. The progress in this regard has to be carried forward with sincerity and in fulfillment of the aspirations of Kashmiri people towards a solution.
Our nuclear and missile power is for Pakistan’s defence and to strengthen it is in our interest. We have to assure the world that we are a responsible nation and will not allow proliferation of nuclear weapons.
The curse of extremism, by a handful of persons, is damaging the country internally. It is in two forms. On the one hand there are ultra modern westernised people who wish to end the religious system in the country. The others are those hardliners who interpret Islam in a wrong way and want to impose their narrow-minded views on all. The reality is that there is majority of moderate people who totally reject extremism.
I appeal to you and the people of Pakistan to wage a ‘jihad’ against extremism, so that Pakistan can be turned into a proper Islamic welfare and moderate state in accordance with the spirit of Islam, and the wishes of Quaid-e-Azam and Allama Iqbal. We all have to ensure that those individuals or groups who were involved in sectarianism and terrorism are completely eliminated from Pakistan.
I have presented before you a concept of how to cope with the threats and crisis facing Pakistan, but I believe that it all will depend on the strength of Pakistan’s defence and economy.
Here I would like to state that by the Grace of Allah our defence is strong. We are a nuclear and a missile power. We, not only have to preserve this capability, but also have to strengthen it. For Pakistan’s stability and survival we cannot overlook this important asset.
We are proud of our armed forces, because they have played an important role in country’s defence, growth and progress and will continue to do so. Some elements try to bring a bad name to the army to achieve their nefarious designs. But they do not understand that maligning of national institutions is in fact maligning of the country.
Economic progress is the basis of prosperity. With Allah’s blessings our economy has strengthened. In the economic field all macro economic indicators are positive and to further improve these we will have to keep the budget deficit in control (to less than 4 percent).
The Balance of Payments Surplus has to be maintained. Foreign borrowing has to be further reduced so that the rate of return of the loans also declines. Exports, foreign exchange reserves, remittances from Pakistanis abroad and revenue will have to be further increased.
I am specially conscious of effecting the benefit of these indicators to the common man, so that poverty is further reduced. The question is where is poverty affecting us and how to alleviate it?
Poverty is most of all in our rural areas and to reduce it we have to improve agriculture, system of irrigation, canals and dams. Apart from that we have to undertake projects of new roads, railways and sea ports so as to bring about a change in the lives of poor people.
To fight poverty in the urban areas and to end unemployment, we have to bring in more investment so as to open new avenues of employment. In the years to come, we have to reduce the price of electricity so that the people and the industry may benefit from it. We have to concentrate on alternate energy sources, such as coal, hydel, natural gas and nuclear energy to lessen cost of electricity and bring prosperity to our country.
Improvement in our human resources is essential for economic development in future. No country can make progress unless its people are healthy and educated. As such, we will have to utilise more of our resources in the sectors of education and health.
A country also cannot develop in the true spirit unless it affords opportunities on equal footing to women, which constitute 50 % of its population, and focuses its attention on ameliorating their lot. We will have to provide more opportunities to women in the fields of health, education and participation in the country’s political process, otherwise the future of our coming generations will not improve.
The minorities also constitute an important segment of our country. They are as patriotic as any other Pakistani and they have rendered distinguished services for our country. They should enjoy the same rights in Pakistan as granted to any other citizen. We should deal with them graciously and should take them along.
A durable democratic polity is inevitable for the continuity of progress and stability of Pakistan. The question arises as to why in the past the democratic process failed time and again?. The steps taken to establish genuine democracy in the country and to make it durable should be continued.
The devolution of powers to the lower level has made people the master of their own destiny and resolution of their problems at local level has commenced. This is an important step forward for their prosperity and progress and the process must be maintained.
A system of check and balance has been instituted at the national level with the 17th constitutional amendment, so that Martial Law is not clamped in future and assemblies complete their terms. The establishment of National Security Council is necessary to further stabilize this system. I am sure that the members of Parliament would exhibit the same sense of responsibility in the matter of National Security Council which they demonstrated in connection with the 17th constitutional amendment.
Here, I am specially thankful to Pakistan Muslim League, its allied parties and Mutahidda Majlis-e-Amal, for amicably resolving the LFO issue in the greater interest of the country and the nation.
On this occasion, we should seek guidance from the adage of the Quaid-e-Azam: “I assure you that there is nothing more precious in the world than your conscience. When you present yourself before God Almighty, you should be able to say with confidence that whatever duties had been entrusted to you, you had discharged them with full honesty, sincerity and loyalty”.
Let us pledge to the nation, as their representatives, that we will acquit our responsibilities dutifully and with honesty so that we could make Pakistan a strong and prosperous country.
All our strategies should be geared towards achieving and promoting national interests and objectives. We should make Pakistan a moderate, developed, enlightened and welfare Islamic state – a country fully in consonance with the visions of Allama Iqbal and guiding principles of the Quaid-e-Azam, a country every Pakistani must be proud of.
Today, the whole world, particularly, the people of this country, are looking up to you. You should prove with your responsible attitude that you are fit to take up these responsibilities.
May Allah Almighty protect Pakistan and bless its people with progress and prosperity. Ameen!