Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s Speech at the State Banquet Hosted by Bangladesh Acting-President Barrister Jamiruddin Sircar
July 29, 2002
Mr. President, Madam Prime Minister, Your excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to return to Bangladesh, an enchanting land blessed with scenic beauty and mighty rivers, a fertile soil, a rich culture and a hospitable people. As my plane touched down in Bangladesh, earlier today, I had a sense of nostalgic homecoming, to friends, colleagues whose memory I cherish. I have been deeply touched by the warm and cordial reception accorded to me and my delegation.
3. The ties that bind us are steeped in history, religion, culture, our joint struggle for independence 54 years ago and a shared vision of the future. The people of Pakistan are indebted to their Bangladeshi brethren and their many leaders of the Pakistan movement, for bringing Allama Iqbal’s dream and Quaid-e-Azam’s vision to reality, in the creation of Pakistan. We were a family torn asunder by a whirlwind of unfortunate events. Some painful memories do cast a shadow on our brotherly relations. It takes time for truth and wisdom to reassert their sway. It takes time for peace, real peace and reconciliation to return. That time, I believe, has come. I would like to convey to the people of Bangladesh that their brothers and sisters in Pakistan equally share the pain of the events of 1971. I wish to express to the Bangladesh people sincere regrets for the tragic events, which have left deep wounds on both our nations. But wounds do heal with time and during the course of the last thirty years relations of our two brotherly nations have certainly come a long way. Let us overcome the sorrow and the bitterness of our past. Let us move forward to build a bright future for our two nations on the basis of sovereign equality and mutually-beneficial cooperation.
4. The people of Pakistan admire the progress that Bangladesh has made. We take particular pride in the accomplishments of your country in the social sector, especially in poverty alleviation, micro financing, population planning and empowerment of women. These achievements bear witness to sagacity and commitment of the Bangladeshi people and their leaders.
Ladies and gentlemen,
5. Pakistan and Bangladesh have a universal heritage to refurbish, way beyond all territorial frontiers and geopolitical divides. We have a contribution to make to the history of Islam in the 21st century, prove ourselves, worthy of its vision and promise. It is not going to be easy, as there is much that is warped within us and in our communities. In the world of Islam and for the world of Islam, Pakistan stands shoulder to shoulder with Bangladesh.
6. Pakistan and Bangladesh are natural partners for the mutual promotion of trade, commerce and other economic interests. While these ties need to be strengthened for a tangible infrastructure of friendship and cooperation, no less important is the continuous nourishment of our intellectual and emotional bonds. I am visualizing of a pronounced increase in the inter flow of scholars and thinkers, writers and artists, eminent men and women of media, your sages and ours of today and tomorrow. This calls for a well-coordinated Educational and Cultural Exchange Programme with vigorous participation of individuals, institutions and organizations. The people of Pakistan and the people of Bangladesh have no business to be strangers to each other. Where the old have destroyed some bridges, let us give the young the opportunity to build many more.
7. The goodwill and kinship that exists between our two nations provide a sound and credible basis for multi-dimensional co-operation. Our relations in the social, political, trade, economic, cultural and educational sectors have great potential for growth. I would like to assure you of our abiding commitment to expand and strengthen the relations between our two fraternal countries.
8. My visit to Bangladesh provides a welcome opportunity to review our bilateral relations. We will explore new avenues for their further growth and development. Our talks here will focus on ways and means to impart greater substance and depth to our relations.
9. While bilateral relations remain the primary focus of our attention, we need to take stock also of the situation in our region and beyond. Momentous developments are taking place ‘at the global plane.
Terrorism, globalization, trade, poverty alleviation, human rights and environment now hold centre stage on the global agenda.
10. These issues cut across national boundaries and cannot be tackled by individual countries alone. Empathy and co-ordination are necessary to deal with them effectively. Pakistan and Bangladesh have a close convergence of perception in all these areas. We need to co-ordinate our responses. This will also enhance our contribution to regional and global peace and prosperity.
11. South Asia has immense potential and strategic importance. It is home to one-fifth of humanity. The international community has a vital stake in its stability. The recent escalation in tension in South Asia is a direct consequence of the unresolved Kashmir disputes. For more than half a century, relations between Pakistan and India have never been normalized and hence prosperity, peace and security, elude the people of South Asia.
12. If some problems are difficult to resolve, whether it is Kashmir or other issues, the least we can do is not to pretend that they do not exist, or seek to impose unilateral self -serving solutions. We need to keep at them, till they are resolved -with justice, with fair play, with the honoring of all past agreements and creating new ones, howsoever arduous the process. We need to capitalize on the positive in each other, not exploit each other’s weaknesses in narrow pursuit of a narrow vision of national power .
13. Durable peace is an essential pre-condition for improving the living standards of our people and for combating the many evils of under-development. We, therefore, would like our region to be rid of all sources of tension and friction. We want to resolve all our differences in a manner that is peaceful, honorable, just and dignified for all. We believe in sovereign equality and, therefore, will neither accept imposition, pressure or threats, nor shall we seek to use such means against others. We base our case in each instance on legality, justice and fairplay.
14. It is with this constructive mindset that we approach the Kashmir dispute. We seek a resolution, through negotiations or through any other peaceful means recognized in the Charter of the United Nations. Pakistan and India cannot remain locked in confrontation. We must resolve our problems not only in the interest of our two countries but also in the larger interest of South Asia and world peace.
15. We deeply appreciate the concern expressed by the Government of Bangladesh over the upsurge of tension between Pakistan and India. Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia’s call for restraint and a negotiated settlement reflects Bangladesh’s standing as a country committed to peace and the well being of the people of this region. We fully share and respect that commitment.
16. Bangladesh’s pioneering role in the creation of SAARC is a lasting testimony to the able and enlightened leadership of President Zia-ur-Rahrnan. He envisioned the Organization, quote “to contribute to mutual trust, understanding and appreciation of one another’s problems” unquote. We need to revive that vision and move forward in that spirit.
17. Pakistan condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. We support the international community’s drive against terrorism. Indeed, we were among the first to join the international coalition in the campaign against terrorism. There is, however, a need to address the root causes of violence and to maintain a clear distinction between terrorism and the legitimate struggle of a people for self-detem1ination. The fight against terrorism cannot be won without addressing in a fair, reasonable and balanced manner the causes that lead people to acts of desperation.
18. I would like to conclude with a prayer for closer friendship and cooperation between Pakistan and Bangladesh; for the continued progress and prosperity of the people of Bangladesh; for durable peace in our region and for international harmony and stability. While I am saddened about some events in the past, I am far more hopeful about the future. Brothers in our separate homes, we remain brothers.