Posted by: Administrator | 18 September, 2006

President at World Economic Forum, Davos 2004

22 Jan 2004, Davos, Switzerland

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Schwab has just given me eight and a half minutes. I have to move very fast. I am extremely grateful to you Sir, for giving me this opportunity to talk to such a prestigious organization as the World Economic Forum. I shall straight come to the point. I shall make my first few words that 1 would like to convey to you and then would be open to any question-answers. Ladies and gentlemen, The end of the cold war, we thought, will usher in an era of peace and stability but unfortunately that was not to be. The issues, the disputes of Palestine and Kashmir continued as festering wounds and heightened really, heightening the Islamic sentiments around the world. Then this was followed by the incident of terrorist attack on 9/11 and the operations in Afghanistan which further exacerbated the situation internationally and then finally we landed up with the operations in Iraq which further complicated the already very tense situation in which the Muslim world found itself. The unfortunate part of whatever was happening around the world was that all the political disputes going on around the world involved Muslims and all Muslims were seeing on their TV screens all that was happening to their brothers and sisters around the world. As a result of this, I would like to give out what kind of an environment got created in the Muslim world.

Firstly, in the masses of the Muslims, I would say, it led to a deep feeling of injustice, of abandonment, of hopelessness, of powerlessness, and of a sense of deprivation that started prevailing in the masses. The fall out of this was resignation and desperation. Over and above all this, when we combine it with the poverty that pervades the Islamic world and the lack of literacy level or the low literacy level, I think, this becomes an ideal recipe for extremism.

 This, in very brief political scenario led to two very dangerous misperceptions: One in the Muslim world, that was that Islam as a religion was being targeted and the other in the West and this was that Islam is a religion of militancy, extremism, terrorism intolerance and that Islam negates or is a counter to democracy and modernism. So these were the two dangerous perceptions going around in the world. Within this environment also, the theory of clash of civilizations emerged and further complicated the issue.

Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, within this turmoil, I would like to say, all around with focus on the Islamic world, on the Muslim world, the world became a very dangerous place to live in.

Now, before giving my strategy of how to deal with this situation which I call the strategy of “Enlightened Moderation”, which 1 propose as a solution to this malice, I would like to speak a few words in the defence of my religion Islam. Firstly, like any religion, Islam preaches peace, moderation, justice and equality. It is certainly against extremism. In fact, no religion preaches militancy, intolerance and hatred and so does Islam not do that.

Secondly, Islam is not in conflict with democracy, modernism or secularism. When I say Islam is democratic in essence, it believes in human rights, it believes in freedom of speech and expression. it believes in reaching decisions through the process of “Ijmah” and “Ijtihad”,— a process ol’ consultation— and therefore, it is very democratic, it is not an anti-thesis to modernism; Islam believes that there should be a continuous review of the thought process in accordance with the time and environment. Therefore, Islam does not get anchored in history in the past. It is supposed to keep reviewing its thought process and looking to the future and therefore, it always remains current and modern.

Lastly, on secularism Islam protects the rights of minorities. In fact, it gives equal rights to them and, therefore, when a country like Pakistan is said to be an Islamic Republic of Pakistan, as I repeated in my previous talk also, it is inherently democratic, it is supposed to he inherently secular, it is supposed to be inherently modern. Now therefore, I would also like to say that, this is the reality, however, there are actions which are counter to these realities. The practical things that we see in the world, in the Muslim world are counter to this but we cannot be ascribing misdeeds of a few to Islam, to the faith itse1f.This would be a grave error and I would say that it poses the greatest impediment to civilizational harmony. Actions of extremists must not be projected as injunctions of the religion, of the faith itself.

Unfortunately, projection in the Western media of Muslim culture and the religion comes from two extremes that is what I see from the media: One, whenever Islam is to be debated what we see is a minority representatives, religious bigots, I would call them, who are brought on to the media and asked to give views on religion, obviously they give very extremist views of our religion. On the other 2 extreme we also see that sometimes ultra-modern personalities are brought in who really bad mouth or condemn their own customs and culture and beliefs may be, may I be allowed to say, sometimes to please the West. These are the ultra-modern personalities in our society. The middle path vast majority is moderate and remains out of the loop. So this is one of the unfortunate realities of the media that in the West generally Islam is seen through the eyes of extremist at both ends and the moderates, who really can give them main aspects of Islam, the real beliefs and the real essence of Islam, remain out of the loop.

I would like to put in a few words also against, this theory of clash of civilizations. Islam, Ladies and gentlemen, does not negate or disown any revealed religion. Moses and Jesus are accepted as prophets and revered in the Quran, our holy book and the essence of revelations in all religions remains the same. It is goodness, I would like to put in an illustrious mystic of the Muslim world, Jalaluddin Roomi who said “the lamps might be different but the light is the same in all the religions and faiths.” But two issues, cultural and moral values, may be different in the West and with the Muslim world, hut this should certainly not lead to a clash of civilizations. Tolerance and accommodation must be displayed for mutual gain.

 Ladies and gentlemen, We are not living in the Middle Ages when difference in moral values or cultural values led to wars, clashes and the crusades since the guiding force or the urge then was projection of power. Domination of the world economy was not the centerpiece at that time which moves people to clashes and wars against each other. But now in this era of geo-economics for the progress and prosperity of the entire human race the centerpiece is combined or collective emancipation or success of the entire human race. This is the modern era of geo-economics and therefore, if we were to go for the benefit or the progress of the human race, all the human race has to be taken along, it has to be through mutual interaction, through inter-dependence rather than a clash. So in the modern age of geo-economics, North and South interaction between North and South, between haves and have-nots, between rich and poor is essential so that we progress collectively for the good of the world at large. Therefore, I don’t see that this clash of civilizations is a theory which should be accepted. I would say the clash of civilizations ought to be rejected because it is I think inherently flawed, because in this time, we do not need power projections.

We need economic revival for the benefit of the people. I would like to ask a question what really leads to extremism and to militancy. I think the source of this is unresolved political disputes: secondly. it is poverty; and thirdly, it is illiteracy. All these combine act as cannon-fodder for extreme religious indoctrination. Now having said all this, my vision for a security structure is based on a strategy that I proposed and that strategy is of “Enlightened Moderation” and this strategy is a two-pronged strategy where one of the prong is to be delivered by the Muslim world in that they should have to reject extremism and go for socioeconomic development. The other prong is to be delivered by the Western world. In that they must resolve all political disputes involving Muslims and also assist them in their socio-economic development because, as. I said, we have to attack the source of extremism—political disputes, poverty and illiteracy.

The Muslim world has taken one step forward because in the last OIC Summit, we have decided to go on the path of “Enlightened Moderation” and we have decided to restructure the OIC through creation of a commission which is under process now. 1 personally feel that the West, the United Nations, the United States ought to move forward towards the resolution of political disputes and the socio-economic emancipation of the Muslim world as their part of the prong of the strategy of “Enlightened Moderation”.

Lastly, I would like to say that we need to correct the economic asymmetry that exists around the world; the fruits of globalization must be distributed in favor of the have-nots. The issue that comes to my mind is really an issue of harmony in wealth and equity. When one compares communism and capitalism, one tries to answer why communism failed, communism probably failed because they did have equity, they did manage equity within their society but they did not really succeed in the growth of wealth for themselves. While, when we talk of capitalism, wealth is in abundance but I am afraid equity is lacking.

Islam proposes an economic system which harmonizes wealth and equity. I think this has to he done to bring harmony into the world. A word on our regional context; Pakistan is purporting peace in South Asia. I think we have reached a stage where Pakistan and India together have decided to initiate a composite dialogue for resolution of all disputes including the dispute of Kashmir. I am very hopeful that with resolve and sincerity we will move forward on the path of peace which will usher in a new era of economic emancipation for the people of South Asia. Ladies and gentlemen, these were my initial thoughts. I would be open to any question that you may like to ask. 3

Question: Mr. President we have just some minutes left and I would like to ask your presentation of “Enlightened Moderation.” I would like to ask you two very specific, very short questions: so the first one, taking up what you just said about peace—and you said history has been made—but it is the beginning, what do you see as a next concrete step which has to be undertaken and may he how optimistic are you, Sir, about your successors in creating sustainable reconciliation with Indians. I know it is a long question but we would like to have a very short answer.

President: My optimism is based on the fact that for the first time there is a realization that we need to address all issues including the issue of Kashmir to bring peace and harmony to the region and therefore, this is my hope for the future. Now, on the way forward that you are asking is certainly initiation of a composite dialogue which would include all issues and Kashmir. Kashmir cannot he sidelined and this has been accepted in the agreement between myself and Prime Minister Vajpayee. So, all that I say is. we have now reached at a start point, we are at the start point. I think this is a very good beginning and we need to move forward towards an end and move forward will be when the dialogue process moves forward, it addresses all issues including Kashmir. 1 am very hopeful that with sincerity and resolve on both sides, we will address all issues

Question: Mr. President, you have a second neighbor Afghanistan which has recently made significant progress towards institution building which is the creation o1 its national assembly and the drafting of the constitution hut in your opinion can -a fully stable and democratic Afghanistan survive without finding Osama Bin Laden?

President: Well, I think looking for, searching for Osama Bin Laden can go on. Simultaneously with stability and bringing good governance into Afghanistan. I am sure with the developments that have taken place like Loya Jirga hasbeen held and a constitution has been approved and there will be elections in the future. I am very sure on the political side Afghanistan is moving definitely towards an era of stability and consolidation. On the military side, operations are going on against Al—Qaeda and Taliban. I am reasonably sure—I am very sure in fact-that a strategic threat from a concentration of Al-Qaeda and Talihan will not take place because there are operations—effective operations going on, on the Pakistani side of border as well as on the Afghan side. I think time is Of our side and the situation, the military situation is progressing well. The third element is the reconstruction of Afghanistan which is extremely important, also further bringing peace and stability into the country. Reconstruction effort has also, I think, gained a momentum, although it needs to go faster. so therefore. 1 feel from the reconstruction point of view, politically and militarily things are on the mend. The issue of arresting or eliminating the threat of Osama Bin Laden will carry on, one can not really lay a time-frame on that.

Question: Mr. President you are trying to build true democracy in Pakistan but still it is the image of militancy, radicalism, extremism which may jeopardize democracy in your country and attempts on your life have even evidence to this fact, so my question would be: How stable is democracy? I think the world needs you. How much can we rely on you and on stability of the situation that you will resolve those issues?

President: I am very glad that you are relying on a man in uniform to bring democracy. Let me assure you that I would not let you down in this attempt. Let me say that religious extremism or sectarian extremism in the country does not at all impinge on bringing of democracy or running in a democratic government. The failure of democracy in Pakistan had its roots in other issues. We analyzed them completely and we have a political restructuring strategy which has been implemented. We have taken democracy down to the grass-root level which it was not there before through the local government system and we have introduced a system; of checks and balances on top, at the national level, which was another problem of not having sustainable democracy. With these introductions I feel sustainable democracy has been introduced in Pakistan, irrespective of the actions of sectarian and religious extremists I don’t think democracy will now he derailed with the reforms and restructuring that we have done in the political sphere

 Question: The very last question Mr. President. I refer to your latest actions to make sure that Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities and knowledge is used in a responsible way, nevertheless there are some question marks about possible transfer which happened or which may happen, how much can you tell the international community that this issue is under control?

President: Yes, indeed let me assure you and this gathering that Pakistan is an extremely responsible state. All the nuclear and missile assets, the strategic assets are under total custodial control. Now having said that let me also assure this house that Pakistan government has never and will never proliferate. Now having said that yes. There are certain aspersions on certain scientists of Pakistan but let me also tell this house, these scientists of Pakistan are not alone. There are aspersions on other scientists of the world and there are also aspersions on entire under-world 4 which has been producing equipment for proliferation. So therefore, this needs to be investigated. As far as Pakistan is concerned, we are investigating, carrying out a thorough investigation of any proliferation that may have been done by individuals for their personal financial gains. We will deal with them as anti-state elements, that are my assurance but having said that, let me guarantee again that Pakistan will not proliferate. Pakistan’s nuclear assets are in extremely safe hands and they will never be allowed to fall into the hands of extremists.

Question: Mr. President, instead of summarizing what you told us, I would like to ask you a very short final question. What you personally consider, your biggest challenges now in the next, let’s say. Twenty-four months?

President: I think the biggest challenge is sustaining the process of economic revival first of all because I think the economy is the basis for any development and second is this issue of sectarian and religious extremism which must be eliminated from our society, that is what is sapping our energies and that is what impedes progress, I think.


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