Posted by: Administrator | 1 February, 2007

Banquet Speech At Rashtrapati Bhawan Delhi

Text of speech given by Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf at banquet hosted in his honour by the Indian President K.R. Narayanan in New Delhi

14 July 2001

BismillahYour Excellencies the President and Mrs. Narayanan,
Your Excellency Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Assalam-o-Alaikum

It is a privilege and a pleasure for my delegation, my wife and me to visit India and its historic capital.

We are also looking forward to visiting Agra and Ajmer Sharif in the next two days. To us in Pakistan, these are familiar names that evoke glorious memories of powerful empires of a flourishing culture and of saintly figures that stirred the souls of countless millions. On our return to Pakistan, we will carry with us indelible images of the richness of this historical legacy.

I thank you, Mr. President, for the warm hospitality extended to us since our arrival in Delhi, the city where I spent my early childhood. I thank you also for the opportunity, my wife and I had, earlier this evening, of meeting you and the gracious First Lady, Mrs. Narayanan. Your wisdom and warmth of personality have left a deep impression on both of us.

My meeting with Prime Minister Vajpayee, at lunch today, was extremely rewarding. I am deeply impressed by his wisdom and dignity. During the next two days, we will hold discussions on the future direction of our difficult and troubled relationship.

My presence in your great country brings to an end a hiatus of more than two years, which I believe, has not served the broader interests of either side. As neighbouring countries, we need to bridge the gulf that divides us. I come to India with this purpose.

Fifty four years ago, to the day, in this city, the Founder of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, said and I quote “I sincerely hope that relations between Pakistan and Hindustan will be friendly and cordial. We have a great deal to do, both states, and I think that we can be of use to each other, not to say to the world. Being neighbours, from our side, I do not think you will find goodwill wanting”. Mahatama Gandhi, Bapu of Indian Nation, also laid down his life in the cause of nonviolence and peaceful coexistence.

Fifty four years and two generations have passed since then. The world has entered a new century and a new millennium. Regions around the world are focusing on reducing tension for economic prosperity, social well-being and poverty alleviation. Regional associations for this purpose are gaining strength.

Where does our region stand? With 1/5th of the world’s population, and impoverished, deprived, disillusioned and tolling  masses, we still are groping for co-operation, mutual trust and peace.

I believe in Quaid-e-Azam’s vision of good relations between Pakistan and India. I believe also that this vision is not beyond our grasp’  I have come to India because I would like to do everything possible to realize the dream of the Quaid-e-Azam.

The legacy of the past years is not a happy one. Our two countries have been through wars. Blood has been spilt; precious lives have been lost. We have been locked in mutual suspicion and hostility. We have paid a heavy price for it. We owe it to our future generations to do our utmost to open a new chapter of goodwill and cooperation.

We must not allow the past to dictate the future. Our nuclear status imposes now responsibilities on us. We must overcome the burden of history. Other nations have done it. We must also do so.

The experience of the last decades and more is before us. The Jammu and Kashmir dispute continues to block progress towards normalization of our relations. I believe that there can be no military solution of this dispute. It can and must be resolved peacefully. We must be bold enough to face this issue squarely and resolve it once and for all. This indeed, will open a new chapter of fruitful relations between our two countries and also put an end to the sufferings of the hopeless people of Kashmir.

Our capabilities and responsibilities in the new century no longer offer us the option of continuing on the path of a sterile impasse, continued hostility and mistrust.

I am deeply committed to finding a path towards normal relations between our countries. I would like  communications to open, trade to flourish, mindsets to change and stereotypes to disappear. The children of Pakistan and India must not be made to live under the constant shadow of conflict. They must also not be made to live in deprivation and crippling poverty. The energies of our peoples must be diverted to the immense  and challenging task of social and economic uplift of banishing misery and ushering in an era of progress and prosperity.

I would like to conclude with another quote from Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah on the eve of his departure for Karachi from New Delhi on 7th August 1947 he said, “The past must be buried and let us start afresh as two independent sovereign states of Hindustan and Pakistan. I wish Hindustan prosperity and peace”.

Today again I urge you to join me in this noble endeavour. Let us begin this effort now. Let us today embark upon this challenging and rewarding task. Let us join hands in building a better future for our succeeding generations. Let us, together, create history for the world.

With these words, I request you to join me in wishing health, happiness and well-being for his Excellency the President and Mrs. Narayanan, progress and prosperity for the people of India and peace and security for the entire region.

Thank you, Excellencies.

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