Posted by: Administrator | 11 August, 2006

President to the European Union Foreign Relation Committee, Brussels

15 September 2006, Brussels

Mr. Chairman, Mr. Almabrook, honourable members of the committee, the European Parliament has indeed played an important role in the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. These values are universal and people everywhere aspire for them. This committee’s role in shaping Europe’s foreign and security policy is very vital indeed. We look forward to deepening our dialogue in the coming years.

Since gaining its independence in 1947 Pakistan has sought closer political, social and cultural ties with Europe, we were allies of the free world at the height of cold war. The European Union is a leading trading partner of Pakistan and increasingly a destination of choice for our students. We value the timely assistance that the European Union members provided after the tragic earthquake that struck Pakistan last year.

In the last five years Pakistan and the European Union have forged an even closer relationship, we are again standing together in combating this curse of terrorism. Pakistan is a full partner in this endeavour and may I say a leading partner in this endeavour. Terrorism is a game of our times; it is an agent of chaos and the enemy of progress. It is in our common interest to fight it together with sustain and comprehensive efforts.

Mr Chairman, first of all Pakistan’s social environment, let me say to this august gathering that Pakistan can be broadly divided into three groups; one group I call ultra conservative, I call them obscurantist, I call them extremists, they are the fringe they are not the main force, they are fringe but they are aggressive and a militant fringe. On the other side of the spectrum I call them ultra liberals, they are westernised and they are not in sink with our cultural reality they are also are a fringe, but may I very frankly say that when West comes to deal with Pakistanis they generally deal with this fringe’s of ultra liberals, who do not represent the main block of Pakistan. The main block of Pakistan is the moderate majority, the vast moderate majority but they are not extremist, they are progressive they want a progressive dynamic Pakistan, they don’t believe in extremism, they don’t believe in ultra liberalism, that is the vastmajority for peace and this is the vast majority which has hope for the future of Pakistan.

Now, I would like to say this august gathering with full conviction that Pakistan is not an intolerant extremist society as many western perceptions have been created. Whatever extremism or terrorism you see in our region or in Pakistan is a fall­out of the 26 years of war-fare of militancy around us and if I, very briefly to give you the history, takes back to 1979 with Soviet invasion of Afghanistan where the West, the United States and Pakistan waged a war against Soviet occupation. This went on for ten years where we launched a jihad, it was called a jihad, where we brought in about 30,000 Mujahideen from all over the Muslim world, when I say we, the United States the west and Pakistan together, we trained Mijjahideen, armed them and sent them in and again we all did it together, for ten years we carried on doing that. It had its fall-out on our national fabric and then in 1989 everyone left Pakistan high and dry, everyone left for Pakistan to fend with what the 30,000 armed trained Mujahideen who were there and the Taliban who were there and four million refugees came into Pakistan when war-fare and war lordism broke out in Afghanistan and then the Taliban emerged in 1995, and then 9/11 came in and all hell was let loose and then also may I say freedom struggle erupted in Kashmir since 1989. So, for 26 years Pakistan’s internal national fabric has been disturbed while before 1979 we were a peaceful moderate progressive country, we became in the eyes of the west an extremist intolerant society. No Sir, we are not intolerant, we are not extremist. The main force of Pakistan is the moderate majority but unfortunately because of the fall-out of the history of Pakistan for 27 years there is extremism, there is terrorism there are militants and we have to face them. So therefore, may I say that terrorism and extremism are not inherent to Pakistan these were imported because of the circumstances.

Now, Mr Chairman, I would also like to highlight the significance of Pakistan, we are a country of hundred and sixty million people with enormous natural and human potential. With the present economic upsurge with all the development activity there is an economic boom going on today in Pakistan there is poverty reduction which has 10 percent reduction in the last five years with growing industrial and technological base added to this fact that we are the second largest moderate powerful Muslim country, I personally think that Pakistan can play a pivotal role in regional peace and stability and act as a bridge between the West and the Muslim world. We have linkages with Central Asia with China; we belong to a region where today there is turmoil and we having linkages with the West. So Pakistan has a bridging role to play in the present geo-strategic and geo-political environments.

We, if you see our location geo strategically, are in the centre of the Gulf of South Asia and India of Central Asia, Afghanistan and all the Central Asian Republics and China to our north-east. All these countries are looking for trade with outside world and between themselves, are looking for energy within themselves and to export to outside world. None of this possible without the indulgence of Pakistan because of its geo-strategic location. Therefore, Pakistan also acts as a trade and energy corridor in this region, within and with the outside world and therefore Pakistan provides the interconnectivity regional interconnectivity, and a linkage to the world for this region.

Now, with background of our geo-strategic and geo political significance let me come to our response against terrorism and extremism and I would like to give you a very wholesome view of this because I know there is lot of concern on what we are doing and what we have achieved and what we are doing. Ladies and Gentlemen we have to differentiate terrorism and extremism, first of all, terrorism has to be fought militarily and frontally with force, and extremism is a state of mind it cannot be fought militarily, it has to be fought more with brains rather than bran and extremism cannot be controlled or checked through imposition of some laws or rules or force. Extremism is a state of mind, which changed through a process of transformation, which needs to put into a check.

Now, what is the cause of terrorism and extremism, in the Muslim world and in Pakistan I personally think, first of all political deprivation, a feeling of hopelessness, powerlessness, dejection and anger, societal alienation, poverty and illiteracy these are elements which spawn terrorism and extremism. The greatest challenge that the world and Pakistan faces today is indeed to addressing the challenge of extremism and terrorism. Pakistan is being perceived as spawning terrorism but as I said this is not a creation of Pakistan. Al Qaeda or Taliban are not the creation of Pakistan, they have emerged because of circumstances. Al Qaeda came into being because of 30,000 Mujabideen that we brought from all over the world and were left there when the world left us. They quell and convert it into the AlQaeda, with a focus elsewhere while they were fighting with the Soviet Union in the past their focused changed to political issues with-in their own countries, that led to the creation of Al Qaeda and Taliban emerged because of the circumstances with-in Afghanistan, so therefore, they are not the creation of Pakistan. Nobody should therefore, doubt that first of all Talibanisation, or Taliban go against the Pakistan’s national ethos and we are not for Talibanisation we don’t want Talibanisation in Pakistan, we reject that, but nobody should at the same time blame us or doubt our intentions for not doing enough or saying that casting aspersions that may be the government or our intelligence organizations are abetting in such activities. If employing of 80,000 troops and suffering 400 deads and Pakistan is not doing enough than I would like to ask which country of the world is doing enough? And may I also add that our vision is to integrate Central Asian Republics with South Asia and allow them exit and connectivity with the whole world through our ports and communication infrastructure. If that is our vision encouraging Taliban and Talbanisation go against the basis of that vision. So therefore please understand, Ladies and Gentlemen one can doubt one can challenge our capabilities but one should never challenge or doubt or intention. Now Pakistan is confronting terrorism, and I would like to explain how, we fought the AlQaeda; we eliminated them from our cities, we got 600 or 700 of them all the leading ones from our cities and we don’t have anymore AlQaeda in our cities.

However Ladies and Gentlemen, we must understand now what I say is very important. The centre of gravity of terrorism has shifted from AlQaeda to Taliban, this is a new element which has emerged, more dangerous element because it has roots in the people, Al Qaeda did not have roots in the people so Taliban are more organized, they have roots in the people and Talibanisation may I say is a separate thing altogether. It’s a social concept an obscurantist’s social concept where they reject music or against television watching and all that stuff. So we have to counter both of these.

Now the question is whose commanding the Taliban, not Osama bin Laden or Zawahiri. Taliban are being commanded certainly by Mullah Omer and where Mullah Omer is, is the question. Lot of people keep doubting all of them are in  Pakistan, Mullah has never visited Pakistan since 1995 when he came into strength why would he been in Pakistan. He certainly in Southern Afghanistan and the people of Afghanistan know that so therefore we need to be very clear that we have to fight Taliban with force, we have to check Talibanization that obscurantist concept from spreading this a battle. And the battle if it is to be one has to address centre of gravity of the force and centre of gravity lies in the Mullah Omer which happens to be in Southern Afghanistan. Why I elaborated this, I do not at all mean that one should give up pursuing Osama or Zawahiri but one should remember that the real danger lies in the strength emerging and further strengthening of Taliban because they have the seeds of converting and taking of more of the population rowing the population to them and then converting this into a national war by the Pakhtoons against may be all foreign forces, we must stop this projection of the Taliban in time through a strategy.

Now I would like to talk about the strategy that we were opted because unless you understand the environments we will not get to the strategy. The environment in the frontier, tribal agencies very briefly is that there were militant Taliban who support Taliban across the border in Afghanistan then there is a vast majority of Pakhtoons that is the ethnic group and Talibans are also Pakhtoons but they are moderate they are religious but they are not Taliban and then there is another category that is emerged who are those who are pretending to be Taliban they are drug peddlers and miscreants, so we are dealing with this environment at frontier we have the institution of levies , constabularies and then the Frontier corps and the fortier’s of Army of course. Reinforce the levies and constabulary which is actually the force of political agent the civil administrator, so we must alleviate them and bring them up develop linkages between the two the tribals the Pakhtoons non-Taliban Pakhtoons and elders of course. The civil administration carried out simultaneous massive reconstruction efforts now we are doing all that we have reinvigorated the civil administration. We have developed a FATA Secretariat a potent Secretariat and we have created FATA Development Authority to look after the reconstruction and now we went for the grand tribal Jirga, it is a meeting of tribal elders, we got all the elders and we reached an agreement, a peace agreement and what is the bottom line of this peace agreement, this is worth noting Ladies and Gentlemen, the bottom line is:-

No Al Qaeda activity in our area or going across into Afghanistan and they agreed to this.

No Taliban activity, no militant activity, no training in our area or going across the border.

No Talibanisation, this obscurantist culture be going spread forcibly imposing on others and they agree.

Now I ask you ladies and Gentlemen, I think this is a great historic achievement. According to tribal culture, if anyone violates these bottom lines, it is they who will oppose them, and therefore what we achieved is that-we reached an agreement with the moderate majority, non-Taliban Pakhtoons and we put them in a lead role to confront the Taliban back them with strong civil administration and military force and we hope that these people will be able to rein away the younger population from going towards the Taliban they will draw them towards themselves and if we have massive reconstruction activity the social sector, health, education and job creation poverty alleviation which we are trying to do with United States in the form of financial assistance and reconstruction opportunity zones where industries.

From a low-income category country, we are now in the middle-income category country. Our revenues have grown by about 150 percent in last five years. 

 coming up in that area where the whole mountains are marble and granite we could export them duty free to United States. So we are trying to generate economic activity there. So therefore, ladies and gentlemen this is a strategy and I personally think that, if we succeed this has seeds of success for the future.

And may I be audacious enough to suggest that this need to be implemented in other tribal agencies and also across the border may be in Afghanistan; this is the strategy for political involvement and reining away the population from terrorism towards a political resolution. After all we all must know ladies and gentlemen and I am a military man that military only buys time and provide an environment for a political resolution. Military will never give the ultimate solution we have to create an environment we have time we have to go on a political path and an intelligently thought-out path and that is what we are trying to do, so I personally think that this a time for brains more than bran may I say.

I would now like to say a few words on Afghanistan. We believe in the integrity, stability and economic development of Afghanistan totally. We support the Bonn process to the hilt. We ourselves are carrying out a number of development projects. We have built the road from our border to Jalalabad. We would encourage a faster reconstruction activity in Afghanistan. My visit to Afghanistan has cleared a lot of misunderstandings and misperceptions, which they were suffering. And basically these doubting our intentions. We must not doubt our intentions. We could doubt capabilities. And I am very highly glad to say that to a large extend have cleared the misgivings. I would like to say a few words again on India Pakistan.

This is here we are going on two tracks. We are going on CBMs, confidence building measures and conflict resolutions. CBMs are going pretty well. I think our relations with India have never been this good. But conflict resolutions, I am afraid is stalled at the moment. And we are trying are best to move the conflict resolution forward and in this the Kashmir resolution the key to the whole problem. My meeting with Prime Minister Manhmohan Singh, just about two days later, I hope will substantive and move this process forward. I feel the time is ripe and the opportunity for the solution is great. These are fleeting opportunities, which do not come again and again. And the demand on leadership is to grasp the fleeting opportunities and not let them go. Because if they allowed to go we will repent later. We would request the European Union to facilitate, to encourage the bilateral process that we have initiated towards a conclusion of moving the conflict resolution forward. I have a trust in Prime Minister Manhmohn Singh. I think he is a sincere man. And I think he is flexible enough to reach out and think out of solution. We have now to show boldness. That we go for the solution. In spite of any terrorist activity, in spite of any obstacle that anybody wants to create.

Mr. Chairman, our efforts for regional and international peace are strongly under pinned by reaching a far reaching economic, social and political reform process at home. We have done a lot and I don’t want to go into the details. Backwardness, obscuridism and Talibinisation have no place in a vision for progressive future of Pakistan. Over the past four years, our economy has performed robustly with an average growth rate of 7 percent. Our GDP has doubled. Our per capita income has doubled. Our export has grown about 120 percent in the last five years. This is the kind of growth and also there is more revenue available for our development. Therefore massive development activity is going on in Pakistan in all fields of activities. I don’t want to elaborate on all that.

In the social sector, we are focused on empowerment of traditionally under privileged section of our society. And these are the minorities and the women. The minorities have been empowered by giving them a joint electorate system and reserved seats at various levels. Therefore, they have been mainstreamed. As far as women are concerned, we have empowered them politically and now we trying to empower them economically. Political empowerment, we have done by giving them 33 percent seats at the local level, 17 percent seats in the National Assembly are women and they can also contest against men. There are today 72 women in a house of 342. Therefore 22 percent of the member of National Assembly is women today. This is how we empowered them politically. We are empowering them economically through many ways. There is a women’s bank. There is a micro credit bank, Khshali Bank. Which is focussing more on women. We have also decided to mainstream the women. There are three women pilots in the Pakistan air force. We are inducting 40 women into our Army, which never been done before. We have given them 10 percent quota in our civil services other than those who come through competition. So we are mainstreaming the women. And we are economically empowering them by many other means. We have just initiated a scheme in which we are calling a Bazaar scheme, where we are generating the jobs for the women. So we are mainstreaming the women and the minorities.

In the political arena, good governance and sustainable democracy remains our priorities. We have introduced a three-tier system, the local government system; we have empowered the people at the grass root. This system is now in its second term. We had elections to the local government system. They had completed their tenure and had another election. And half of the senate had completed their tenure and have another election. We are going to have National Elections next year in 2007 after the assemblies complete their tenures of 5 years. This had happened for the first time in the history of Pakistan. Never has completed their tenure in the past. This is the sustainable democracy that we have introduced. We have liberated the media. While there was one TV channel in the past, today there are 43 channels in Pakistan. There is complete freedom of speech and expression. If you watch TV in Pakistan, many are talking against me; I don’t mind that, because I don’t have skeletons in the cupboard. And I have any of the answers that I have done or not done.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is very important to recognize and understand that Pakistan is transforming. The outside world also needs to note this transformation and extend all out help and understanding which is required at this moment in the history of the nations. The world needs to consistently review and change its perceptions accordingly. We still have challenges to contend with. We still need to extend the fruits of the recent economic growth to the common man. Fully empower the under privilege and decisively win the battle against the battle of terrorism and extremism. But that trends lines all in these areas are encouraging. We therefore, expect the international community to see the progress and change in Pakistan. Pakistan is an allay and should be treated as such. Nothing should be done to undermine the mutual trust and confidence.

 Mr. Chairman, the international community can also help to strengthen this process of transformation. There are many ways in which the European Union can work with Pakistan. We need market access. Industry to come up in Pakistan to expand. That means the job creation and that means the poverty alleviation. That means to address the root cause of terrorism and extremism. So I urge you to invest and trade with Pakistan and enhance our trade. I am not looking for aid I believe in trade not aid. So if you need my help I request you for help in investment and enhancing trade with Pakistan. We could deepen Pakistan EU dialogue. And I propose that at an appropriate time, Pakistan EU summit should be instituted. This would help our strengthen and expand our bilateral cooperation across the broad range of areas including trade and education.

Lastly we could work together to promote greater interfaith harmony. Please, know Pakistan is a strong Muslim country; please know that we are a strong moderate Muslim country. Please use us to bridge the inter faith divide, to bring the harmony to the world. And bring peace to the world. Contribute our bit.

Mr. Chairman, Pakistan is making a significant contribution to international peace and security. We are a sincere and serious partner. You as the member of the strong institution have a vital role to play in further strengthening Pakistan EU partnership. We look forward to working closely with you. We look forward to working with you with all sincerity but with total understanding with us. Understanding of our problems and we seek your assistance for us to meet the challenges that I have and our country has to face.

Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen.

 

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