Posted by: Administrator | 5 October, 2006

President address to Italian Senate, Rome

30 September 2004, Rome

President urges EU to play its role in promoting inter-faith harmony

ROME, Sept 30: President General Pervez Musharraf Wednesday urged the European Union to help resolve political disputes and assist in the economic development of the Islamic world to help promote inter-faith harmony. “EU is a strong emerging bloc and when we talk of interfaith harmony, you (EU) must contribute by resolving political disputes,” the President said in response to a question during his address to the Italian Senate – the Upper House. He urged the 25-member union to use its influence in resolving the lingering Palestinian issue. Similarly, the President said, the EU can contribute tremendously in economic development within the Islamic and the developing world. The President supported the entry of Turkey into the EU and said it could act as a bridge between the Islamic world and the West and the EU and the OIC.

The President in his hour-long speech touched upon various domestic and international issues. To a question, the President said Pakistan was a strong believer in pan-Islamism and wanted to use its strong position to harmonize the future path of Islamic and the entire world. “It is the Pan-Islamism in which Pakistan believes in and in this Pan-Islamic context, Pakistan happens to enjoy a very strong position,” he said, adding, “Pakistan wants to use this role in harmonizing the future path of Islamic and the whole world”.

Likewise, the President added, Pakistan also enjoys the geo-strategic position in the region and has a central role to play in bringing harmony to the entire region. Replying to a question, the President described the situation in Iraq as complicated. The President stressed the need of holding elections in the Gulf state and raising local security force to bring stability to the country.

He said Muslim countries had been requested to send their troops to Iraq for peacekeeping which they did not do as they did not want to be seen as an extension of occupation forces. However, he said, after the Interim government, the situation was changing in Iraq and the country must look at raising its local force speedily to take over security duty. The President observed that it was at the time, when the foreign forces were withdrawing, that the Muslim countries could think of sending forces to help in the reconstruction efforts.

To a question, the President said the route to improving peace in Middle East was through the resolution of the Palestinian issue. The raising of Wall by Israel was not helping as no Muslim country would allow Israel to usurp the Palestinian land.

On the domestic issues, the President said every country has its own peculiar environment and “You can’t see the democracy in Pakistan with Italian eyes”. He said democracy in Pakistan had never functioned and between 1988-99, no government could complete its tenure. The President said four Prime Minister were dismissed by the Presidents elected by their own parties and three presidents were shown the exit door. He said when he took over it the country was about to be declared a failed state,. The President said he was a strong believer in democracy. He said he democracy in Pakistan could not work as people were not empowered and there was no check and balance between the president, prime minister and the army chief. Now, he said, the people have been empowered at the grassroots level through the introduction of local government system.

The World Bank has termed it a ‘silent revolution’ in Pakistan, he added. Likewise, he added, women have been empowered by raising their representation in the local government and National Assembly. The government has empowered the minorities by giving them joint electorate. Through an institution, the system of checks and balance has been put in place, he added. “We have introduced sustainable democracy in Pakistan, and I am confidence that it will sustain itself,” he said.

The President also expressed the confidence that for the first time in the country’s history, the National Assembly will complete its tenure. President Musharraf reiterated Pakistan’s firm resolve in the fight against terrorism and highlighted its role as a front-line state in curbing this menace. However, he said the world must strike at the root causes to eliminate this menace.

The United States and the West must help resolve the political disputes mainly involving Muslims and also assist the Islamic world in their socio-economic development.

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