Posted by: Administrator | 20 September, 2006

President address to Nobel Institute, Oslo – Norway

24 January 2006, Oslo – Norway

Ladies and gentlemen it is indeed a unique privilege for me to be speaking as I said to this gathering from the platform of this institute of international repute. The theme given to me as spelled out is Pakistan’s role for peace and development in the region and beyond. This indeed allows me to project the reality in Pakistan and maybe clear misperceptions because I keep on saying that Pakistan is a country which suffers from distorted misperceptions which are very far from reality in many cases. It is my honor to be able to maybe correct this misperception to a degree.

Ladies and Gentle men I have no doubt absolutely that Pakistan like any other country desires the progress, well being and prosperity of its people and therefore it is possible only through modernization, social economic and cultural development of the country and I remain very conscious of this factor and I am also very clear in my mind that such development is not at all possible unless the prerequisite of peace and harmony within and out the region is ensured and it is achieved. Having said this I would like to lay down that Pakistan at this stage in history and with its geographical location is a key player today in the Islamic world because of its power potential and also in the region because geo-strategically Pakistan is located in the cross roads of Middle East and the Gulf specially of Central Asian Republics, all the new states which emerged after the cold war and collapse of the Soviet Union and the Western region of China where maximum investment is going on and it is developing very rapidly and South Asia.

Pakistan is the centre, it is the hub of this region therefore because of its being the hub Pakistan happens to be the trade and energy corridor in this whole region. If I was to give you a manifestation of this, India wants to trade with Central Asian republics and Afghanistan which is not possible without Pakistan playing a role. Central Asian republics are looking at the world market for trade and commercial activity. They are looking South wards the only ay possible is through Pakistan and Iran but easier through Pakistan, the Western region of China is obviously developing, the land route to the Eastern coast of China is four times the distance if were to travel to the coast of Pakistan. India is energy starved, Iran, Qatar, Turkmenistan have gas and oil which can only pass through Pakistan so therefore the geography of Pakistan bestows on its geo-strategic significance and therefore our role in the region.

Now let me come to the role that we have played and we are playing now and we would like to play in the future. I would be remiss if I did not mention here one critical role that we have already played in the past, though you all know it but I will still like to recapitulate.

Historically Pakistan has always been a part of the free world; we have been a part of the West during the cold war when we had a bipolar world we have been with the West historically and it would not be too presumptual that in this being part of the West we were the ones who struck the first blow in the form of the success in Afghanistan in the period of 1979 and 89 which led to the end of the Cold War, the collapse of the Soviet Union, emergence of many free democratic countries in Europe, dismantling of the Berlin Wall and reunification of Germany. It may be too presumptual but let me tell you that I have seen peace of the Berlin Wall presented by the Chief of German Intelligence to a Chief of our intelligence, the plaque there read “To the one who struck the first blow” so therefore the role played by Pakistan in all this was crucial, it was the success in Afghanistan which led to the consequences which I have spoken of but however ladies and gentlemen Pakistan paid a very very heavy price in doing this. It started with 1979 with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan; we launched a Jihad against the Soviet Union with the West, United States in the lead and Pakistan being in the lead and its intelligence organization being in the lead. Who fought this Jihad, 20 to 30 Mujahideen were brought from all over the world were armed and then sent in by us, Taliban from our Madrassahs were trained and armed and then were sent in by all of us and Afghan people of course, they fought the Jihad, for ten years this Jihad continued and Soviet Union got defeated and Soviet Empire got dismantled, cold war came to an end but everyone left us high and dry moved away from there and tribal war lordism erupted in Afghanistan from 1989 on wards till 11t September, it was total destruction going on in Afghanistan. This led to 4 Million refugees coming into Pakistan and we had no assistance to look after these four million refugees. In the warfare going on in Afghanistan, all the 20 to 30 thousand Mujahideen held up there and the Taliban militarized entirely. This is led to the emergence of Taliban in 1996 and also converting of the 2 Mujahideen into Al Qaeda they changed focus from fighting the Soviets, the didn’t have any other skills so with other political aspirations they went all over the world. This happened and all the brunt of this fell on Pakistan’s society. Combined with this what happened in Kashmir which started happening in 1989 onwards for 16 years so therefore ladies and gentle men, then 9/11 came in and the operations in Afghanistan and all its impact, all the Al Qaeda members shifted base to the cities of Pakistan and in the mountains of Pakistan. This is what we are fending of today. There is turmoil in our society because of what has happened in our East in 26 years and what has happened in our west in Kashmir for 16 years. This is what we have to now repair, we have to repair this damage to our national fabric and this is what we are involved in today internally. Now how are we handling this gigantic task, I must say that it needs a strategic understanding, it needs very depth, patient handling and that what we are involved in.

First of all we ought to go for peace and development within Pakistan, how to bring about peace and how do we go about development in Pakistan because development, economic progress, socio-economic uplift lies at the core of fighting terrorism. This is what we are doing now; we are dealing with terrorism and extremism as a holistic strategy.

There is a lot of mis perception when you couple these two words together, terrorism is dealt militarily with force but extremism is a state of mind, it is not an act where you can react through militarily action as it is a state of mind you have to deal with it through a different strategy so therefore all that I would like to say in this constraint time frame, we have evolved a long term and short term strategy to deal with terrorism in its immediate context militarily and extremism through a strategic concept in long term and short term.

We have evolved this strategy, it wouldn’t be presumptuous to say that Pakistan maybe is the only country in the World which is moving on a holistic strategy of addressing extremism and terrorism wit understanding in its immediate and futuristic long term prospective. Military action against terrorism is ladies and gentlemen is not a solution in itself, its only buying of time, Military action buys you time for using other instruments to tackle the issue of terrorism and extremism.

Military action as I repeat is not the solution so therefore we ought to be working while we use military action against terrorists, what other instruments to use to curb extremism and deal with the core which gives birth to terrorism. This is what we are doing, we understand the environment and we are dealing with it. We are trying to bring peace and harmony to the society through a societal transformation.

We have to couple this with economic revival and may I say from a failed and a defaulted state, Pakistan’s economy today is at an upsurge. Our GDP grew by 8.4% from last year, the year before that it grew by 6.5% and inspite of the oil price increase and the earthquake which we have suffered we will again rise by over 7% I am reasonably confident. All the macro-economic indicators of Pakistan are positive, we have grown from a low income category country to a middle income category country, the purchasing power of the people has increased and therefore there is a greater demand and the demand supply gap has increased and therefore I must admit that the inflation has been a cause in this upsurge in economy has also increased partially but we are keeping this well under check. All this we have achieved to encapsulate it in two issues through control of the fiscal deficit which we reduced considerably and the deficit is being converted into a current account surplus. These were the two broad areas which address controlling expenditures and increasing earnings and that is how this turn around in the economy of Pakistan happened and I wont go into further details but having said this we are trying to transcript the gains of these economic gains to the people through socio-economic development as I said through addressing the social sector and in this the three major elements we are addressing this poverty alleviation, health and education, these are the areas which we are concentrating on and let me also say that we have strategized each one of them, we are following a very well strategized holistic approach towards addressing all these and I am very positive and confident that we are on the rise on each element of this social sector as I said.

We are trying to introduce sustainable democracy in Pakistan, it may sound ironic to you that a man in uniform standing in front of you is talking of democracy but that is the reality. Democracy never function in Pakistan for all these years of about 50 years, never has democracy flourished or functioned so therefore it was disturbed, we had a number of martial laws, we have now analyzed the whole thing and seen the root causes of this derailment of democracy and may I very proudly say that we have introduced elements which we will have InshAllah we will have sustained democracy. We have empowered the people of Pakistan through a local government system at the lowest district level. We have empowered the women of Pakistan to giving them fixed reserves seats and also allowing them to contest on 3 other seats. We have empowered the minorities of Pakistan by giving them joint elections then we have introduced checks and balances on top. We have freed the media, today the electronic media and the print media of Pakistan is totally free. We used to have only one channel in the past but now we have dozens operating in Pakistan absolutely open and free for the opposition or the government representatives alike to air their views. Freedom of media, freedom of speech and expression, empowerment of people, empowerment of women, and empowerment of minorities is the core of democracy that is what we have introduced in Pakistan.

Now let us talk to peace in the region. On Afghanistan all I would like to say is that we are supporting the born process and we have inspite of our limited means given hundred million dollars for reconstruction in Afghanistan and things are moving well there and I will drop it at this but I will talk of India Pakistan relations, there is thaw in our relations, we are moving on two tracks of Confidence Building Measures and Dispute resolution with sincerity, flexibility and with a lot of boldness and courage. CBM’s are going very well but I regret to say that dispute or conflict resolution is going on a slow pace and that is what disappoints me and when we talk of dispute resolution, it is the Kashmir dispute which is at the heart of the dispute between India and Pakistan on which we have fought wars and I have been a part of those wars. I have been part of many other skirmishes so I know if anyone thinks that a military man doesn’t know peace in think military man is the most ably equipped to understand peace because he has seen ravages of war. therefore ladies and gentlemen we need to resolve disputes and we are trying our best. But as they say one doesn’t clap with one hand two hands are required to do that. We are giving lot of solutions, we are throwing many solutions and one of the solution that I have said is let us identify what is Kashmir the geographic limits of Kashmir and then demilitarize it and then give self governance to the people of Kashmir and then over and above lets have a joint management on top to manage and identify Kashmir. Theses are the four catch words I have been using I think there is lot of unanimity in accepting this as a win win for all for India Pakistan and people of Kashmir. In conclusion ladies and gentlemen my vision for Pakistan is to develop Pakistan to move Pakistan to be a moderate and progressive economically strong Islamic and useful member of the international community of nation. That is my desire and dream.

That’s all ladies and gentlemen thank You very much.

Question: Are the view that Al Qaeda leaders are hiding in the tribal areas of Pakistan and if so why they are able to hide for so long time.

Answer: Have you been to that area ever, these are mountains ranging from 10 thousand to 15thousand feet Moumbla is 17thousand feet the tales mountain there are no roads this was what is called the federally administered tribal agency,7 agencies with access was not available to even British for the centuries that they lived there. They were only restricted to one or two roads which they developed, they couldn’t move off the road and this continued for 57 years of our independence. We have now access into the area now and we were carrying out reconstruction there through the involvement of the tribal before 9/11 then come 9/11 and all theses Mujahideens as I have said and Taliban shifted base from the ravages of Afghanistan into our cities and mountains. We dealt with them in the cities, we arrested 7hundred major Al Qaeda players only Pakistan has done that no country in the world has done this it is only Pakistan which is using 80thousand troops to fight the Al Qaeda in the mountains and we made successes we have captured about 6 sanctuaries of there in the valleys where they were in hundreds now they are dispersed in the mountains in dozens only and we are using a special operating task force a mobile hard hitting force wherever we come to know them we strike them. The battle is more of intelligence rather operations. The limitation is on intelligence operation against them is easier but to get intelligence of where they are exactly inaccessible hostile terrain is the problem and as time passing we are developing our intelligence on the human side on the technological side and the aerial surveillance and when we will achieve more expertise we will know more of them and we will be able to succeed more but we are succeeding it will take some time you have to show some patience.

Question: Pakistan was a strong ally and a supporter of eth Taliban and that govt in Afghanistan also in the time after you came to power can you tell that how it was that you 4 were able to almost overnight turned around that policy a hundred and 80degrees.wht was your experience with when you woke up on the 12th of September.

Answer: National interest of any nation is supreme Taliban were not in our national interest not at all so if anyone misperceives that our action was in American interest sir it was in our national interest I took it like that and I knew it is in our national interest I knew that the people of Pakistan do not want to be talibanised. Now when you say that we were supporting Taliban and we were on their side yes indeed that was our geographic and geopolitical and geostrategic compulsion. If you know that Taliban were Pakhtoons and Pakhtoons are on the border belt with our western region of frontier and Balochistan where also the population is Pakhtoons so they have relatives on each side they have interactions between themselves. So it was only correct that all govt of Pakistan had relations and diplomatic understanding with the Taliban they swept 90%of Afghanistan and they were in occupation of 90%of Afghanistan which govt in Pakistan could ever leave the Taliban and on the other side which was being supported by the Soviet Union and India how could any govt of Pakistan be on the other side sir it was a geopolitical and geo strategic compulsion how ever that did not mean that any leader of Pakistan or the masses of Pakistan wanted to be talibanised and I understood that so therefore the decision was very easy for me. People of Pakistan don’t want them the geo strategic realities have changed the geopolitical realities have changed. Therefore you switch over night and I did that.

Question: Are there any limits at all to how far you are willing to go down on terrorists on Pakistani soil.

Answer: there are no limits we will go any where because they are not in our interest again. The misperception arises when people think that we are doing something for others. Please understand that first of all we are doing something for our selves. we will never allow we want to act ourselves in Pakistan. So therefore we are against any collateral damage we must avoid collateral damage and we don’t want interference in Pakistan only Pakistan forces will act.

Question: You said in your address that the major hurdle to the peace in the region especially between India and Pakistan the durable peace is the Kashmir issue. As far as I have observed through the last decades no Pakistani leader has ever been able to take these steps which you have taken to meet the India and go there and ask for various options making solution to this dispute and you said that you regret to say that you are disappointed. What do you think Mr. President would happen if the people of Kashmir are disappointed?

Answer: I would say if they get disappointed and Pakistan gets disappointed then the world should also be disappointed that the future will be bleak and dark no body can guarantee permanent peace in the region that would all I would like to say. The permanent peace will only be guarantee when the dispute between India and Pakistan get resolved and more than that if this dispute between India and Pakistan is creating adverse affect on the regional organization the SAARC, we want to go forward on the economic development of the whole region we are the only region the South Asian region which is out of the loop of development in Asia. Look East Asia, South East North East China even Australia they are getting together for economic prosperity of the region we are out of the loop.

Question: From my perspective it seems as if the short term as you call it military war on terror is seething rather than combating extremism what would your views on that would be.

Answer: I wouldn’t agree to that. It would if we did not address this issue of collateral damage if wee didn’t use the military in accordance wherever the targets ought to be real targets that is the people who are involve in terrorism we cant apply massively to the entire area we must never do that so we must target and that will be very good if we have good intelligence and I think we have developed where we had never penetrated in this area so there fore human aspect was non existence in the past now we have human intelligence affective human intelligence we have affective technological intelligence. Therefore we do target people but however there are other forces involved at the grass rot level yes indeed. there are some extremist organizations which penetrate there and use there influence because the people are quite illiterate, the literacy and educational level is low we have to beat them on the political side so it is a mass of using military using political input and also reconstruction uplift of the people, bringing water looking at agriculture having communication infrastructure and also education and health facility there that is what we are doing in a big 5 way we are going for reconstruction and we are being assisted in that so that we wade away the people from extremism. So it is a holistic strategy which you need to apply in the over all context. I think we are winning.

Question: Nearly 30%of Pakistan is living below poverty line today. The govt has very bold objective of reducing this to 13% by 2015.Do you also have goals of govt expenditures concerning education and health in your strategies.

Answer: Yes indeed I think this is on the social sector as I said that my major concern is poverty elevation and education and health. As I have said we have strategies all. We have seen where poverty is, poverty is in the rural areas 70%population is there, therefore we think it is only agriculture and therefore water issue which is the key to agriculture an agro based industry food and food processing and diary that is where we are trying to concentrate so that we elevate poverty in the villages. In the cities there are uneducated unemployed and educated unemployed. On the educated unemployed we went for telecommunication and information technology and we have succeeded in a big way. There is boom in both. Lot of employment is now going on. On the uneducated unemployed its investment factories are being opened labor is being employed and the construction industry it employs labour intensive. So both of them we concentrate on. Today there is again boom going on in both. So that is the poverty elevation part. We have strategize the education and health also. On education we have increased the funding tremendously. The Higher Education Commission Attaur Rehman is sitting here he use to get funds previously of half a billion slightly more than half a billion rupees. Today his funding has increased to 22billion which is something like thousand of increase in his funding and also to education we have also increase the funding we have decided to increase it continuously in the coming years by not few 10 or 20% we are talking of hundred of percents. And then we have a strategy of improving literacy level and universalizing education improving the quality of primary and secondary education and improving higher education. In the higher education side I can very proudly say that we are opening 6 universities being assisted by Sweden, France, Germany, Netherlands, Austria, South Korea they are assisting us in developing engineering universities and we are going in big way towards education in its holistic we want to have strong foundation and a strong super structure seen from literacy level to the higher education. In the health side we had ignored the primary health care which is in the villages and the secondary health care is at the district level we were only going for the treasury health care today we are concentrating on the secondary health care and may I say that these are two areas were I have personally taken upon myself to monitor other than whatever the govt and the Prime Minister is doing. I have taken it upon myself to go to the grass root level to see policy implementation because in the developing countries the problem is policy formulation and policy implementation there is a big gap, I am trying to fill that gap myself and I will do that so therefore I think holistically we are on a correct path.

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