Posted by: Administrator | 25 August, 2006

President’s Press Conference with International Media

11 November 2007

Ladies and Gentlemen, as you all know the National Assembly and the provincial assemblies are about to complete their tenure as laid down in the constitution of Pakistan. National Assembly completes its tenure of five years for the first time in history on the 15th of November and therefore they shall stand dissolved on the 15th of November. The provincial assemblies had different days of completion of tenure, the Frontier government has already been, they resigned and, therefore there is a caretaker government already there since 9th of October. The Punjab Assembly completes its tenure on the 24th of November the Balochistan Assembly completes its tenure on the 26th of November. Sindh Assembly completes its tenure on the 10th of December. The question was whether we should allow them to complete their tenure as stipulated or we should bring them on to one date and have elections on one day for the National and Provincial Assemblies.

I had a good discussion with the Chief Ministers of all the provinces and we have consonance of views on the issue that we should have election on the same day and therefore let us dissolve the assemblies on the same, on one day. So therefore the Chief Ministers of all provinces are in agreement to dissolve the provincial assemblies on the 20th

This is history, ladies and gentlemen because this is the first time that all assemblies are completing their tenure.

Now allowing the Election Commission sixty days maximum that they are supposed to take for the elections and forty-five days minimum that they need for the elections. I would request the Election Commission to hold elections as soon as possible as fast as possible which means if you calculate 45 to 60 days from 20th November we should have the elections before the 9th of January which happens to be the start of Muharram. So, therefore, I leave it to the Election Commission to decide on the exact date according to their own requirement but I very much hope it will be before the 9th of January. So, any day towards the end of he first week of January, we will hold the general elections in all the provinces of Pakistan simultaneously to tile National Assembly and the provincial assemblies. I wish, I could also give a date, exact specific date or my taking oath as a civilian President. I always said that I will abide by the constitution and that oath as a civilian President would have been on the 15th of November. But, now since the case is subjudice in accordance with the decision of the Supreme Court, the sooner they give, they allow for he notification to be issued which has been held in abeyance. The notifications cannot be issued according to their judgment although they accept my election from the assemblies with the fifty seven per cent vote, from the Senate, the National, all the national assembly and the four provincial assemblies. The moment, they give a decision allowing us the notification; I shall take oath of office as a civilian president of Pakistan. And I hope that happens as soon as possible. This sets aside aspersions, distortions, and rumors, doubting intentions about my intentions.

I would like to challenge anybody to point out at any stage where I said, I will not follow the constitution and there will be a postponement of elections or the issue of my oath taking. I think since the last three months, I have been talking of three stages of transition. The first stage from 1999 to 2002 where I was solely In-charge. The second stage from 2002 to 2007 where all assemblies are functioning and the governments at the centre and the provinces are there and I was only overseeing and the last stage as I always said the transition stage where I become a civilian president if elected and we now go on to a stage of total, complete democratic dispensation. I have always been saying this and I was always being saying that I will follow the constitution and I think this is my. I would like to say that in Urdu… .[Text in Urdu]

Now, I will come to my action on the 3rd of November. It was indeed a bitter pill to swallow. There is no doubt about it. There is no doubt that this was the most difficult decision I have ever taken in my life. Why did I take this decision?

I could have preserved myself but then it would have damaged the nation. I found myself between a rock and a hard surface. I have no egos, personal egos and personal ambitions to guard. I have the national interest foremost on whatever terrorism and extremism is going on, over which I am going to talk, about the destabilization that had taken place all over the country, a country in a stage of turmoil and shock and confusion, I had to select between what I need to do . Take a drastic measure to save the democratic process first of all. This very democratic process, which I have just enunciated, was the one, which was being derailed, had I not taken action. I would even say that the government, which was in a state of paralyses, needed reinvigoration; it would have gone more into paralyses. So, these were the dangers, So, I personally thought after consultations, discussions with everyone of tile society. I discussed with the politicians, individually in groups. I discussed with the Prime Minister and the cabinet, individually and groups. I discussed with the civil society, industrialists and businessmen, individually and in groups, I discussed with the military, individually and in groups, all of them and then only did I come to a conclusion that here is a situation where I need to see Pakistan as a whole, I knew International perceptions. I knew the fall out internationally.

Anyone knows It, any one with the little bit of commonsense would know it, I had to take a decision whether I need to take a decision in the interest of this nation, to preserve this nation, to safeguard it and risk myself or to let go hoping that the nation may improve later…. I am not going into the details of I have already spoken to the nation but I just want to say that the environment was the judiciary, the clash between the three pillars of the state. The judiciary, I wouldn’t say the whole judiciary, only one individual in the judiciary or may be very few in the judiciary, clashing with the Executive and the Legislative. In that, the government found itself in a state of semi-paralyses, not acting, the government functionaries not acting, they being humiliated in the courts and therefore refusing to act, refusing to take decisions. Then law enforcement agencies, the police totally demoralized and shattered, not prepared to take any action. Terrorists encouraged and those fighting against terrorism demoralized. Political uncertainty was in the state, who is to be the President, whether there will be elections, how. The economic downturn, as a result of all this the most painful thing, economy which was on an upsurge. I see a down turn. Our credit rating with the Standard and Poors and the Moody’s have declined for the first time in eight years. And the terrorism gaining ground because of this whole state of confusion and turmoil. Therefore, the decision and whatever it costs I bear responsibility and I stand by it. I stand by it because I think it was in national interest. Whether it was not in the interest of anybody seeing it from abroad but it was in Pakistan’s interest and I stand by it and I will answer any questions subsequently from anyone especially from those from abroad.

The turmoil, ladies and gentlemen, started on the 9th of March with the initiation of the reference against the Chief Justice. I just want to touch on this issue because, yes indeed everything was going fine, this disturbed the whole situation. If somebody asks me today, with hind side, should you have done it, may be I say no, should not have been done. But if somebody asks me whether you did the right or wrong I will say I did the right. There are two issues involved in this. One is the filing of the reference; the other is the content of the reference. Let us take the filing of the reference. There were accusations against the Chief Justice of Pakistan. No body is

above the law ladies and gentlemen. President can be impeached in the Assembly and the constitutional situation on the Chief Justice is, that a reference can be moved against him in the Supreme Judicial Council; that is the constitutional position.

So, therefore, the Prime Minister initiates a reference, accusations come to me and I follow the constitutional legal path of giving it over to the Supreme Judicial Council. So there was no lapse on the filing, whatsoever. On the content, ladies and gentlemen, does anyone know tile content, was it heard in the court, no . We did not deliberate on the contents, what were the accusations. And I just want to very shortly and briefly tell you about it because lot has been said about it and the other side of the story is going unheard. I had no personal problems with the Chief Justice. He has come to my house, visited me social callings. He has come to my office several times. Never did I request him, he came on is his own and obviously, there was a relationship. That was not the issue. But this in running of state, there are other more important issues on seeing the merit of the case. Let me tell you what is in the reference. This is no secret now. It is supposed to be in the courts, it is supposed to be open. It is not a secret but nobody knows it because the court did not consider it. There was no sense of justice in him. Judges were being appointed on his favourites. He used to refuse to accept judges nominated by, through the legal courts, through the High Courts, the High Court Chief Justices, the Judges for the High Courts. He would put in his own name, he would reject the names being given by them as a result of which this tussle always remained between the high courts and the supreme court and we had to mediate between them as a result of which most of the High Courts would [remain]under­strength. The Shariat Court Chief Justice, where he has no jurisdiction, he imposed a person that he has to be put there.

Many other violations of judicial norms like giving a verbal decision but then the written decision next day opposite of the verbal decision. Illegal interference in the courts cases. In one of the Chief Justice of a High Court humiliated by one individual abused in his court. He gives him contempt of court. The next day the man is released because he had some linkages with the Chief Justice. Harassment of civil servants to the extreme, lGs, Secretaries, going and standing outside the Supreme Court and High Courts for minor protocol lapses. If somebody has not received him well somewhere, a high police official from Hyderabad coming to Supreme Court here because, proper protocol was not given to him. And innumerable suo moto cases where the IGs, Federal Secretaries, Chief[s] of Pakistan and bringing it almost to a complete halt today. On the personal side may I say his personal corruption which is all laid down on his medical bills on his travel TA/DA bills, on his use of fuel bills, and then he would wanted the best vehicles for himself, wanted by name and escort for himself and if the vehicle is an older one, he would call the Chief Secretary, he will humiliate senior officials. So these were and then his son’s case and all that I don’t want to go into those details.

The issue that I wanted to highlight, why I took time, this is all in the reference against the Chief Justice. I would like to ask anywhere in the world what should be done if these are the accusations and known to be correct, what should be done to a person. I would like to ask from those of you sitting from the West, what you would do to a Chief Justice if these were the accusations against somebody. Is he above the law, should you not do anything. So, therefore I did what exactly, legally and constitutionally. I was allowed. I did not violate the constitution and the law of this land and I tried to correct the situation and allowed the judiciary to decide, the Supreme Judicial Council. Unfortunately, the mishandling in all that, at the technical level that was most regrettable. But the case itself, unfortunately, has gone unheard and the judicial body of the Supreme Judicial Council today stands absolutely, it has been, negated. A constitutional body has become irrelevant.

Another point I want to touch is the Lal Masiid affairs here. I don’t want to go into details, I just want to say, Ladies and Gentleman, there were so many aspersions being cast on me in the foreign media that there is some nexus between those terrorists and myself and the government that we are trying to manipulate things to our advantage nothing could be more wrong, baseless than these allegations, but they respond, they were written without realizing what is the difficulty with the government to act against about three thousand men of about two three thousand women. What it would have cost to act there. So therefore, the handling the delay was because we wanted to save lives. And the action I think was very excellent; it was late for a reason. But the aspersions, I am shocked as the aspersions, which were, cast allegations of delays, allegations of indecision, allegations of all kinds of mischief being done by the government itself.

I would like to touch on now the most significant aspect of terrorism and extremism or terrorism. This is what we are fighting with all our force, it was in the FATA in the tribal agencies, and it is spreading to the settled districts of Frontier. A block of northern districts, a block of southern districts, we have to fight them there and then with all tile suicide bombings all over Pakistan it is spreading elsewhere into Pakistan. We have to attack their source. We have to eliminate them at sources. This is no easy job. Again aspersions, allegation, lack of understanding of the realities on ground, are therefore, let me give this audience that not only had we made a plan which will be given to you, very regularly from the military operations directorate as well as Eleven Corps. We have a plan of action to strengthen the second line forces; this is under implementation from June this year up to the December, it will be completed in January 2008 . We have fifteen thousand policemen about 120 platoons of Frontier Constabulary, about seven thousand Levies, twelve wings of Rangers are being raised and four more will be raised, sixteen. All this will take a little time, but we have inducted the army there.

And now in Swat area, army is in the lead role. They have taken over, the Frontier Corps and constabulary will be there, but the army will be in the lead role in the operation.

There have been aspersions on me that I am foot dragging, I may be in league with the extremists and terrorists may be I had a soft corner for Taliban, all kinds of aspersions.

Ladies and Gentlemen, in 99, I inherited a government policy whatever its policy was in Afghanistan. It was I who tried to moderate actually with the Taliban. Because, we had diplomatic links with them. All that I would like to say on terrorism and extremism … [Text in Urdu]

All organs of State have to combine in unison to defeat terrorism and extremism, whether it is the judiciary, whether it is the government, federal and provincial all law enforcement agencies, the army and the second line forces and the media. If the media is going to make heroes of terrorists and villains of the law  enforces. God save our battle against terrorism, I would like to lastly come on to media and say a few words.

I am for independence of the media and that is what I gave to the media in Pakistan. I am using this word I because there was a lot of opposition to do it. But we still gave it the independence and I still stand by it. But all that I desire, all that the government desires is responsibility and what is responsibility, it is not that you should not criticize us or the government, do please criticize the government, do please criticize me but there has to be checks on deformation by designs, distortion of facts, projecting non truth, humiliation … [Text in Urdu]

We have made a code of conduct, and I would like you to see that code of conduct. I do not wonder whether we are issuing … [Text in Urdu]

You must read that code of conduct. We have taken the codes of conducts from many countries including western, and has been made absolutely a code, which brings responsibility. May I say that it is only a few channels that are by design or for their own political agenda doing this and a few people in those channels. Therefore, if everyone shows responsibility in accordance with the code of conduct, we have no problem whatsoever with the independence of the media. But play a role also in fighting terrorism. Play a positive role, help the forces fighting terrorism, and reinforce their hands. That is all that I have to say … [Text in Urdu]

Thank you very much Ladies and Gentlemen. I am available for any number of questions and short questions.

[Linzy Hyre- Channel IV news]: Mr President, can you tell us whether in the current circumstances Ms Benazir Bhutto is your ally or your opponent?

President Musharraf: I want to have fair, transparent elections. We are now launching a political election process. In this, I am going to be absolutely above board. Rules of the game are going to be set by the Election Commission, which should be adhered by all equally. Now after the elections, whatever happens will be seen later, but I in my position as the President of Pakistan, if at all the Supreme Court decision comes out and I take oath, will remain above board and neutral.

[James Pace: Al-Jazeera English]: You have given us a date for the election. You have not given us a date for lifting the state of emergency. How can a free and fair election take place if there is still a state of emergency with opposition politicians locked up?

President Musharraf: No, they will be in the election process. Let me tell you that in view of the disturbed environment-the terrorist environment, the bomb blasts, the suicide bombs, and the situation in the Frontier, which has to be tackled, in Swat, in the southern districts, I can assure you that it is the emergency which reinforces the hands to control all this and keep it in check. And I think it is quite the opposite that you are saying; it will ensure absolutely fair and transparent elections because we are not going to interfere in the process of the elections. We would like anybody from abroad, observers to come and see the fairness. Certainly, if any one was disturbing the law and order situation, the arrests have been done because of that. But I would expect that all of them get released and then participate in the elections, and they will be free to go and do electioneering as per the rules given by the Election Commission. But if they disturb law and order and if they want to create anarchy in Pakistan in the name of elections, in the name of democracy; we must not allow that. So therefore, certainly, the emergency is required to ensure peace in Pakistan to ensure an environment conducive for elections in Pakistan.

[Allex – Sky News]: Could I ask a question about the first foreign journalists to be deported, the three Daily Telegraph reporters. Can you tell us what criticism of yourself is acceptable?

President Musharraf: Yes, I didn’t know why they have been deported. I know it now. I wonder whether you know it. I wonder whether you know what words they used, you do it and you accept such words in your country. You accept a word of that sort if I was to use ii anyone of my reporters were to use against your president?

[Second question]: Say, is it just specific word. Mr . President. What is it?

President Musharraf: Yes indeed, that’s what I said. Let us remain in the norms of behavior. Now if there is anybody who does not have a sense even of what how to speak and how to write? What conduct and behavior? I am really shocked. So, therefore the action was taken because of absolute. I mean. I cannot. I don’t have words to express what I can say about it. In fact I would say, I expect an apology.

[Hassan Khan-Khyber News]: Is it not very unfortunate that always you are looking towards the foreign … in your televised, nationwide speech. You also request them to please give me some time and then the other day addressing the foreign diplomats you again put that request to them. Is it not you are belittling one hundred and sixty million people of Pakistan by requesting the foreign people to give you some time to rule Pakistan?

President Musharraf: Who has told you that…

[Second question] I have to repeat my question, In your televised speech to the nation, in the English version you requested the international community to give you time then later on addressing the foreign diplomats you again put a request that please give me some time…

President Musharraf: O .K. I have got the point. I did not, at that time I think if you understand the language that I used, it was not time to me, and it was time to the nation, if you remember. What I was saying was, democracy I remember, isn’t it. you are talking of when I said democracy, we are learning democracy, give us time, give Pakistan time to learn democracy. I spoke of human rights, that you are concerned about human rights, individual liberties. We are learning, Pakistan is learning, give us time to learn, give Pakistan to learn. I was not asking for myself. Please understand that is not the thing. I didn’t say give me time so that I teach democracy and human rights to Pakistan. No sir, I was talking of generalized statement and that I will say to the whole western world I was addressing I was addressing to the whole western world that in the developing countries if you see, let me clarify a little with you;

Look nations or societies are vibrant, they are living organism, they move in a certain direction and that direction is set over centuries. They start moving in a certain direction because of their environment that they live in and they start moving there. Now if you think that that movement and that direction may be wrong and should be changed. You can not impose a sudden change in that direction and tell them O .K., you have been going wrong now you have to follow human rights that we are telling you and please start phasing this way. Society will gradually transform. You cannot impose a change on the society. It is in that context that I was talking. Please allow  time for our society for Pakistan to learn democracy and to learn human rights and keep progressing on that path and keep moving in that direct direction.

Mohammad Akmal Khan: Rang TV … [Text in Urdu]

President Musharraf:… [Text in Urdu]

[Ahtesham- Dawn]: Mr . President. if this emergency continues, do you expect the suspension of aid by donor agencies and international financial institutions?

President Musharraf: I don’t expect that, I don’t hope that at all. They do understand our ground realities here, mainly the issue of terrorism, how we have combated it. And what is required to reinforce us to fight terrorism. Now the other concern of there certainly I do understand, and let me you, now that you asked this question. A lot of leaders have rung me up . While they do show concern about elections and the issue of my being a civilian President, doffing of uniform; but at the same time each one of them and I don’t want to name them, each one of them have shown understanding of the environment here in Pakistan, and therefore, if we go on the path of democracy I am sure they will understand and no such problem will occur. And let me say by adopting the course I have, actually, I have put the derailed path of democracy back on the rail. What have done today in announcing elections was being derailed actually through the Supreme Court’s action against the Legislative and the Executive. So, that is what I put back on rail actually. And that, the West should understand, and should accept the ground realities of Pakistan.

[Grag Tocat – Fox News] Mr President, I must return to the question about state of emergency. Can you give us a day, can you give us some kind of a timeframe, Attorney General was suggesting one month. I know hearing from the White House and others in Washington. There are concerns about the state of emergency. Here in this country and what effects it might have on your own war on terror that it might affect its function. Can you give us a timeframe when we might expect it to be dropped?

President: The emergency reinforces the war on terror; I really don’t know how you see emergency as countering or negating the war on terror. It means, I just said it is this emergency, which has reinforced our hands to use the army in the lead role in Frontier. Otherwise, the army was not being requisitioned. So, therefore, emergency contributes towards better law and order, better fight against terrorism itself. So therefore, all that I can say I do understand that emergency has to be lifted. But, I cannot give a date for it. We are in a difficult situation. And therefore I can not give a date… [Text in Urdu]

[~ohn Right -ICB News]: The state of emergency seems to have deepened divisions here and raised very much the popularity of Benazir Bhutto. In deed this week she described you as representing the forces of dictatorship. I wonder why she resorted to this rhetoric, I wonder … of her attempt to bring her people on the streets this week and I wonder if you think that will undermine any kind of power sharing deal with her?

President Musharraf: Did you say raised her popularity. I wonder whether you know the rural areas of Pakistan. Islamabad where there were 150 people at one time outside her residence and another on one day there were about 200 people at the barricade who created nonsense that is what you think is the popularity. This country is the country of 160 million people. Seventy percent of them are in rural areas. Your information is of Islamabad. Islamabad is some hundreds of thousand of people, right.

You please go into the rural areas and the rural areas, see the feel what her popularity there is, I wonder whether you are correct. Please have a correct feel of Pakistan and Pakistan is the rural area. Seventy percent of Pakistan and in that 55 per cent may be or if not more is Punjab. Go into the rural areas of the Punjab, go into the cities of Punjab and see whether she is gaining popularity or gone down in popularity because of certain actions, certain comments that she has been making in the past. So, I would not like to comment on that and as far as coalition, I said before, I am the President of Pakistan and now we want fair, transparent elections, we must give an equal chance to all political parties. So, we are going into the elections. How can I say now? I mean in the West. I know through your papers and through your remarks. You think that she is the next Prime Minister of Pakistan? I don’t know.

Who has given you this impression? How you have counted this vote and what your calculations are based on? She has to win the election. If her party wins the elections then only will be going to the other stage of whether to see who is going to be the prime minister. I wonder whether our assessments are correct at all. As far as I am concerned, fair, transparent elections, let any party win and then it is the political parties who need to get into coalitions and understandings with each other. There is no point in a personality getting in touch with me . I mean what is the use of any one having a relationship with me . It is the political parties I am not heading a political party so therefore I would say, for the sake of future of Pakistan; I have been saying that there has to be a political reconciliation in all the parties. So that we face this menace of terrorism with political strength and government and administrative strength. I would leave at this. There is no, from my point of view at the moment, any decision that we have to be sort of. Let the political parties decide the future course of action after the election results.

[Cho Ro Fun- Chinese Daily]: would you like to just give some assessment on the security situation in Swat and South Waziristan. Is right now, the military operation is just a temporary one with the time of emergency or after that if there is till some thing like a suicide attack or some certain kind of terrorist attack, what will your government do in that kind of situation?

President Musharraf: The military operation will continue till we defeat terrorism. There is no time limit on that. The emergency reinforces our strength, our hand to use forces more strongly wherever we want against terrorists. But, even when we remove emergency, the fight against terrorism by military will continue till it is defeated.

[D . Damascus BBC]: How will you set aside the presidential aspersions when you are locking up opponents, judge, locking up politicians, appointing new judges as to get yourself reconfirmed all under the state of emergency, because it appears that the only thing that may have been derailed is your own re-election as President, not forthcoming parliamentary elections. Emergency is an issue about your elections not about parliamentary elections.

President Musharraf: I have tried to explain it in the beginning but you are asking a question again. As far as locking up of people, yes indeed, if there is any disturbance in the law and order, agitation, disturbing the peace in the land, we will act against them. However, when you are talking of judiciary, yes a judicial correction had to be done. Why it had to be done? I have explained. I have explained the rationale for it. What was the problem that the country was facing? When I look this action, I told  you it was a bitter [pill] to swallow. One was in action. Don’t do anything. What should have been the result of not doing anything and then of doing something if I had to act, where do I act. There was the problem. The problem was some elements in judiciary being in class with Legislative. How? In that 57 percent of Senate, National Assembly and four provincial assemblies have given me a vote to be the president. But they say no, hold on . That is not the case. We will try this case in court. They start trying and they have a seven-member bench. After sometime, then they decide no, it should be eleven-member bench. They became eleven-member bench. And then they allowed that unofficial result to be announced, and they said no notification should be issued. So this suspended totally, totally overruling what the Legislative had done. What the parliament had done. Secondly, direct interference in their executive branch. In that, as I told you, the government [was] in semi-paralysis. The law enforcing agencies totally demoralized. This was the situation, where Pakistan found itself? As a result of which, economic downturn, Pakistan almost becoming nonfunctional, government becoming nonfunctional. Now, if one has to act as I said the choice is either don’t act or act, one of the two. So if you don’t act , to me and all those I discussed with, every one thought not acting is doing damage to this country. Therefore I found myself between a rock and a hard surface. And if I had to act, I had to correct the source of the problem. And the source of the problem happened to be some elements of judiciary, and therefore we had taken action.

[Abdulwadood Qurish Roznamaa Jang] : … [Text in Urdu]

President Musharraf: … [ Text in Urdu]

[Kam Asher- Middle East Magazine]: Given your comments about the Chief Justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, can we assume that there can be no resolution of this crisis that would involve his reinstatement as the Chief Justice of Pakistan and all the reinstatement of the other sacked judges who refused to take oath under PCO, in other words, is his dismissal and their dismissal a red line that you no longer prepared to negotiate?

President Musharraf: Absolutely, absolutely, there is no question. Those who have not taken oath are gone. They are no more judges. The Supreme Court has been formed and the High Courts are there and these are the final High Courts and Supreme Court, and those who have not taken oath are no more Judges.

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