Posted by: Administrator | 1 June, 2007

A Solid Foundation but a challenging Future

“A SOLID FOUNDATION BUT A CHALLENGING FUTURE”

By Pervez Musharraf, President of Pakistan;

Washington Post, December 3, 2007

TERRORISM

1. Over the past year, the conflict in Afghanistan and the emergence of a virulent

campaign by foreign terrorists to destabilize Pakistan have created a national threat

that has interrupted Pakistan’s progress much as America experienced in 2001-02.

Foreign terrorists have engaged our security forces and suicide bombers have struck

at metropolises that are the pulse of our nation. These events have caused me to take

unpopular and extraordinary actions to protect civil order. Those actions have

succeeded in minimizing violence and the vulnerability to attacks, with costs

incurred to civil liberty and institutional balance. We are actively engaging civil

society to ensure that it continues its critical role in building a consensus around a

progressive agenda.

ELECTIONS

2. Through all this, my commitment to free elections has not wavered and we will have

elections in January, 2008. Elections are a very short time away, particularly for a

nation that is 160 million strong, rich in diverse political opinions. America has the

luxury of national campaigns in which a vision for your future can be developed and

explained by your candidates over years. In Pakistan, we have but weeks. That is

why I have been dismayed that the media has reduced our national discourse to a

conflict between institutions and individuals, instead of real issues affecting the wellbeing

of the people. I will judge Pakistan’s elections a success if they meet two

criteria. First, they must take place in a free and safe environment. We cannot allow

terrorists to hijack this critical democratic institution through violence. Nor can we

allow self-serving politicians to disrupt the consensus required to continue the fight

against terror. Second, we must move beyond personalities to debate a vision for

Pakistan: a vision that builds upon our achievements, leveraging Pakistan’s intrinsic

strengths, and taking the people of Pakistan beyond a narrow-minded focus to an

integrated perspective reflecting development, justice, and prosperity. At this critical

juncture, Pakistan needs the continuity of successful policies — not a myopic hustle

for individual power.

ECONOMY

3. We are confident in our ability to provide security. But as America knows well, a

secure future requires more than physical security. Our literacy rate of 54% must be

raised. One hundred million Pakistanis (63% of the population) are under 25 years of

age, and many are intimidated by a vocal minority of extremists. We need to

continue developing the economic opportunity that will give these young people the

hope and encouragement to persuade them not to fall prey to extremist rhetoric, but

rather to work productively toward a future that will benefit them and Pakistan as a

whole. Even beyond the national borders, my concept of “Enlightened Moderation”

needs to be used as a bridge between the Western World and the alienated Islamic

world.

4. VIBRANT PAKISTAN

5. In a November, 2007 speech before the Center for U.S. Global Engagement, U.S.

Senator Joseph Biden, among the most experienced foreign policy experts in

Washington, called for “A New Approach to Pakistan.” Senator Biden got many

things right. He lauded Pakistan’s tradition of democracy. He recognized our “large

moderate majority.” He recognized that a secure Pakistan is a Pakistan in which free

institutions are made self-perpetuating by strong economic progress. He recognized

that the building of schools, hospitals and infrastructure would support advancement

of the Pakistani people and bring them out of the poverty trap of the past. Indeed,

over the past eight years, we have built a solid foundation for an economically

vibrant Pakistan. We have maintained one of Asia’s highest GDP growth rates at

7.5%, more than double and achieved a record high foreign investment of $8.4

billion, up from a mere $ 322 million in 2000. Other financial indicators support this

trend: Pakistan’s total foreign exchange reserves have increased nine fold to reach

$15.7 billion, the stock exchange index has increased more than tenfold, the

exchange rate has remained stable, 12.8 million the public debt has halved.

IMPROVED INFRASTRUCTURE

6. Taking advantage of our geo-strategic position, we have improved the infrastructure

environment by investing in public sector development funds and promoting publicprivate

partnerships towards infrastructure mega-projects. We have created a strong

system of local governance where elected representatives manage their local districts

with the help of civil administration, thereby significantly empowering the masses at

the grassroots level. We have deregulated the media to where it is the freest in the

history of Pakistan, where it is expected to exercise its freedom with responsibility. I

have always believed in the freedom of expression and have respected difference of

opinion, and I will continue to do so in the future. We have sought to create a

government balanced between the executive, legislative and judiciary branches,

coupled with a vibrant, peaceful and productive civil society.

MUSHARRAF AND PAKISTAN

7. Senator Biden was correct when in his New Hampshire speech he said the world

must take a new approach to Pakistan, helping our people by solving problems. He

made a mistake, however, when he referenced a “Musharraf policy” separate from a

“Pakistan policy”. I have never had a policy separate from a “Pakistan policy”. My

policies have reflected the aspirations of the progressive, moderate forces in Pakistan

that have been aimed at containing the growing extremist forces fueled by regional

unrest. Pakistan’s physical security and that of the world necessitates that religious

extremists are sidelined; that Pakistan’s natural resources and nuclear assets are

protected; and that military morale remains high.

CONFLICT FREE FUTURE

8. It is my commitment to ensure continued implementation of a policy that will take

the people of Pakistan safely through this critical junction towards a future free from

the present conflict. The vision I will present for a ‘new Pakistan’ in the coming days,

as Pakistan’s civilian democratically-elected President, rests on this decisive premise.

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