Posted by: Administrator | 14 July, 2007

25th National Seerat Conference Islamabad

TEXT OF ADDRESS BY CE GENERAL PERVEZ MUSHARRAF AT 25th NATIONAL SEERAT CONFERENCE, AT ISLAMABAD

5 June, 2001

Bismillah Hir Rehrnanarahim
Federal Minister for Religious Affairs, Dr. Mahmood Ghazi Sahib,
All the Respected Ministers,
Federal Secretary for Religious Affairs, Mr. Zubair Kidwai Sahib,
Excellencies,
Ulama and Mashaikh-e-Kiram And Honourable Ladies and Gentlemen,  

 Assalam-o-Alaikum!

I feel extremely happy to be with you in this august assembly. First of all, I would like to compliment the Ministry of Religious Affairs for making excellent arrangements for this conference. This day carries great significance for all of us Muslims. It was on this day that Allah Almighty sent Hazrat Mohammad (May peace be upon him) to this world to serve as his last messenger to humanity .It was through him that Allah perfected Islam and .it is his life and teachings that will provide the guiding light to Muslims till the end of the world.

 The Holy prophet brought about a revolution in social relations through Islam. I would like to talk on that frankly, simply and in my own idiom. I do not have a written text before me. That is because 1 would like to say how I feel like on various issues in a straight forward manner.

What did that Islamic revolution mean? The first thing it did was to provide justice and equity. Dr. Mahmud Ghazi has talked about it so eloquently. There was no discrimination between the rich and the poor, the white and the black. No man had preference over another man. Everyone was treated at par and justly. A spirit of accommodation and tolerance was promoted among them. This led to unanimity and cooperation. A new consciousness developed and unity created strength. 

To my mind, without this unity Islam would not have moved forward. At the same time, the importance of moral principles was highlighted and every individual was encouraged to reform himself, in other words, to elevate his moral tone. The society was rid of all evils. And, above all, and this carries weight with me, woman was accorded a place of honour and respect. A truly model society was brought into being, the kind we would like to be created not only in Pakistan but in the whole world.

 Allow me now to talk about our present society. Where do we stand and which way we are going? We say Islam is a Din. It is no mere religion. It provides guidance to us in all walks of life. And because of this we claim it is superior to all other faiths. But how do we actually conduct ourselves life. Look at Muslims everywhere and in Pakistan too. Is this what our Din teaches us.

We say Islam is for all times to come because as a Din it relates to practical life. But how does the world look at us.  The world sees us as backward and constantly going under. Is there any doubt that we have been left behind all although we claim Islam will carry us forward in every age, every circumstance and every land.
lslam is vibrant and forward looking. But more than that claim it is the most tolerant of faiths. How does the world judge our claim? It looks upon us as terrorists. We e been killing each other. And now we want to spread violence and terror abroad. Naturally, the world regards us as terrorists. Our claim of tolerance is phony in eyes.

This is where we stand today. It is time we took tock of position. I would like to analyze it like this. All of us sitting here are Muslims. We believe in one God, we accept  Prophet Mohammad (May peace be upon him) as the last prophet, and we recite the same Kalima “There is no god but God and Mohammad is the messenger of Allah”.

Anyone who holds these beliefs is a Muslim to me, whether he is a Shia or Sunni, Brelvi or Deobandi. All are Muslims and we are one. No one, believing his own persuasion to be the correct one, has a right to thrust it on others.

Coming to basics about which I have talked and in which we all believe, we are all Muslims. Beyond that if you have a particular approach and thinking, keep them to yourselves. But if you want to propagate them to others, do it nicely. Why quarrel about it? Everyone has a right to his own thinking. In any case, who is going to be the judge?

Are you my judge? Whether I am right or wrong? Whether you are right or wrong? It is Allah Almighty who is the Judge. Only He knows who is right or wrong. Who is a good Muslim. Who is a bad Muslim. We have no right to tell anybody that he is bad and we are good, we are on the right path and he is on the wrong track.

 Nobody has this right. This is what I believe in. We are all Muslims. On my part, I can assure you whenever a crisis overtakes Muslims or Islam, you will find me in the forefront. I have just talked about the model society built by the Holy Prophet. Let us try some comparison of our own society with it. Where do we see justice and equity? Do you see it?  In Pakistan? Where? Look at the judiciary’s performance.  corruption is rampant and misdemeanour the order of day.  Only Sifarish works. Merit has no taker. The poor are oppressed. To be poor in Pakistan is a curse. Everybody oppresses him.

 Only the other day, I was listening to a presentation on the Khushhali (prosperity) Bank. Some of the poorest folk who had been given small loans of fifteen, twenty or thirty thousand rupees had come from far off places in Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab. I talked to them. An old man told me that the workers of the Khushali Bank came to them and gave them the loans but did not accept even a cup tea from them. Otherwise, he said, what is our lot?  

Dacoits swoop on us, beat us, we go to the police, they too beat us. This is the justice about which we brag so much that Islam provides. But where is it in Pakistan? And for whom? For the rich, may be. For the powerful may be.

What about mutual tolerance? It exists nowhere. Instead, we are killing each other wearing masks. Was Islam propagated like this? Did our prophet do it that way?
We know and the world knows that whenever we took up arms for Islam, we did it openly, not hiding behind the masks, not through terror not firing a burst and then slipping away. This is not the way to promote an ideology.  Is this the way the ideology of Islam should be promoted? This is sheer cowardice. Do it openly if you want.

It is intolerance that holds our society in its grip. Everyone is trying to thrust his own beliefs on others. Believe me, he says, because I am right. You are unknowing. Come to the right path. But how? First you should correct yourself and then tell others.

There is pervasive hypocrisy. Do we say what we feel and think? No. There is wide contradiction between what we profess and what we do. What comes to our lips is not what we feel in our hearts or what we think about. We are deceiving ourselves as well as the country.

Where is unity? Unity gave us strength. Islam spread through unity in our ranks. Without it, its message would not have got through. Where is that unity which achieved Pakistan in the name of Islam.

We are blessed with all resources. We can develop into a powerful country, ahead of all other Islamic states provided that we are united, otherwise no. We are riven into sects. We are prey to regionalism, ethnicity and provincial disharmony. The provinces are bickering among themselves. No one trusts the others.

 Even when the truth is told nobody believes it. Take the case of water distribution. When one tells the other that water is being distributed correctly, he is not believed. Instead he is accused of theft. All kinds of accusations are being traded on the basis of what is stated to be the past experience. There is conflict and dissension but no unity.  We are searching for it.

 What about adherence to moral principles? Do we notice it anywhere? What we see upheld is clan affiliation, caste and money. But no moral principles. 

As I said earlier, merit has no place in our society. Do we judge anyone on the basis of his merit, his deserts, his ability or his character? We look to his clan and his pocket.  Or we favour him if he belongs to our own area. We follow no moral principles.

 And let us not talk much about character. Can we discover it anywhere from amongst us? Are we honest and truthful?  I leave that to you to decide. If we had been honest and truthful, our country would ,not have been where it stands today. 

We are never tired of talking about the status that Islam accords to women. We only pay lip service to its teaching.  We do not act upon it. This in plain words is hypocrisy. I would now like to turn to more mundane matters.

Pakistan does not live in a void. It is part of the globe. The world has actually turned into a global village. No country can live in isolation or stand alone. For progress and development, every country has to interact with others.

Unfortunately, we are weak because of the causes I have already mentioned. We do not suffer from built-in weakness. We have all the resources to develop. But we are ourselves responsible for our weakness.

As we are weak, we have to keep in step with other countries. First acquire strength, only then you can tell others to fall in step with you. We are in no position to dictate to others. Commonsense demands that first you attain that position from where you can ask others to follow the path you are treading. If you make a premature attempt, you will be crushed and further weakened.

When I say that we should keep in step with others. I do not mean that we do it at the cost of our honour and dignity , or our national interests. I would like to do that with our eyes open and in our own interests. We have to wade through a river where there, are crocodiles. It is not smooth sailing that we should expect.

We should also be aware of the present state of the Muslim Ummah. I went to Cairo to take part in the D-8 summit meeting. With the grace of Allah, one fourth of the world population is Muslim. Seventy percent of the world energy resources are in Muslim countries. But our GDP the entire Muslim Ummah taken together, comes to bare twelve to thirteen hundred billion dollars. On the other hand, Japan’s GDP stands at five thousand five hundred billion and Germany’s at two thousand five hundred billion dollars. In other words, Germany’s GDP alone is twice that of the Ummah. And Japan’s is four and a halftimes that of our GDP although in population we are one fourth of the world’s and are sitting on seventy percent of its energy resources.

 Why this is so? An analysis tells us that it is all because of a difference in the advancement of human quality, of environmental development. Other countries have swept forward. Just take education. In the entire Muslim world, there are about 380 universities, of which only 25 are ranking. In Japan alone, one thousand universities award Ph.D. degrees. The entire Muslim Ummah can boast of a total of 500 Ph.D. In England, three thousand do Ph.D. and in India five thousand every year.

 It is this that should engage our attention. When we make an assertion, we ‘should have strength to back it up. Wisdom dictates that we should first acquire strength, come on top and then talk.

How to bring about the change. We have the military muscle. We are a nuclear power. But we do not have a matching economic strength. You are aware of the fate of the Soviet Union. It was a super power in military terms but it lacked economic strength. Consequently, it disintegrated.   Its present predicament is no secret to you.

We have therefore to strengthen our economy in order to create a balance with out military power. From every forum, I have been trying to drive home this point. Economic progress holds the key. It is this that will take us forward.

But how to advance in the economic field? We are taking a number of important steps in this direction. I would avoid details but touch upon some of the salient points.

Our first priority is to improve the law and order situation.  Unless the foreign investors come in or our own people make investments, we cannot make any economic headway. So far they have not done that. Neither foreign nor indigenous investment has taken place. I confess our government has failed in this. We have to induce such Investment. We are offering several incentives for this purpose.

Undoubtedly, law and order is an important factor, which inhibits investment. No body is going to make an investment where there is fear of losing it. An investor first of all looks at the conditions obtaining in a country, particularly law and order. We must therefore attend to it.

What is public order really? It is, in our case, sectarian harmony. In the beginning, Shias and Sunnis were fighting with one another. And now the Brelvis and Deobandis have entered the fray. Do we realize where we are heading? What do we intend doing? Do we wish to become strong? For that you need sectarian harmony.  

 The only way to bring that about is to leave everybody to hold whatever beliefs he likes. If you are convinced that your path is the right one, and you want others to adopt it, first set your own example, and be sure they will themselves come round. Do not talk because talk leads to conflict. Put up your own example as a model. Let others speak about you. Let them say you are a good man, a wise man, a man of character and you will lead us forward.

But if you beat your own drum, it is of no avail. Rather, we should have a good word for others. That is what makes for sectarian harmony.

For our internal strife, the outside world is asked to declare us terrorists. Some say we are primitive. Others say we are a failed state. It hurts badly. We are one hundred and forty million, we are a nuclear power, and yet somebody gets up and tells us we are a failed state.

Religious and sectarian harmony is therefore an inescapable necessity in Pakistan. It will unite us and bring stability. Only that will attract others to come to Pakistan.  Recently, a Chinese Minister was visiting us and we were discussing the question of investment. He said investment is like a sparrow. It flies out as a flock of pigeons but returns one by one. So this sparrow will come to us one by one. We are trying to attract it by throwing feed of incentives before it. I ask you to lend us a helping hand.

Our second failing is to provoke each other through meaningless statements. We can improve the law and order situation by just holding our tongue. We should be able to understand this simple point. If we become a tolerant society, where people with different outlooks can live peacefully, investors will come.

Why should you be unnecessarily railing against the great powers. Is it wisdom that you invite hurt, without any rhyme and reason. As I have told you we are not a powerful country .When we do become powerful, you can afford to indulge in this pastime. They might then be impressed by you. But till then, it is not wise to talk loose and damage yourself. When you do not have the capability, why open your mouth. Why not keep your counsel. If speak you must, do it intelligently.

One example comes to my mind. One hears the boast that we will hoist our flag on the Red Fort (in Delhi). We will do this, we will do that. Have your ever thought of the consequence of such talk on Muslims in India. They are our brothers. They come and meet me. They have told me what repercussions our loose talking has on their position. Is it wise? Why are you talking loose? Why are you damaging yourself and your brothers and sisters? What are you going to gain from it? On the contrary, this provides India with the excuse to talk about you as terrorists and to tell others to declare you as terrorists so that prospective investors shy away from your country. When you kill each other, who will consider Pakistan a safe place for investment.

A freedom struggle is going on in Kashmir. We will always lend them diplomatic support. We will collect funds for them in order to look after the refugees who are coming over after being uprooted from their homes. But the funds that are being raised in their name are going into private pockets. I know it for a fact. If these funds are not being collected for the welfare of the Kashmiri refugees, then whose cause suffers. I know what is going on in Kashmir. I have myself fought there. We are aware of the situation.  We are doing our work. There is no need for vain boasts.   Whatever we do, we should do it with restraint, prudence and honesty. There is no gain in unnecessary and irresponsible statements and activities, which cause damage to the country.

Just broaden your horizon. When you talk or act, weigh advantages and disadvantages in the scale of national interests. The foremost consideration before you should that we have to make this country powerful.

Above all, religion should never be exploited for political gains. Do not sully our glorious faith. I say this to all those who are guilty of it.

My particular appeal is to all those Ulama who are sitting here to promote harmony among all sects so that we achieve unity in our ranks and are able to devote our entire energies towards economic uplift. How reassuring it is to see Ulama of all persuasions sitting here together. Why can’t we maintain this harmony outside? Why should we weaken ourselves internally?

This is all that I had to say. I could read out the written text but I thought on this auspicious day I should open my I heart before you and talk frankly. You all understand what our problems are.

To me, Pakistan’s progress and welfare means the welfare of the Muslim Ummah. I have no doubt about it is in my mind. I have visited several Muslim countries and met their leaders. They have told me we rely on you, you are a source of strength for us. I have attended the OIC session.  We enjoy a prestige in that forum. We are a nation of one hundred and forty million people. We have talent. We can achieve anything. We have resources. We can progress.

We have a coastline, water, gas, coal, in fact, the Thar coal is the world’s biggest coal deposit but it is lying unexploited. Let us together take this country forward. Conflict and dissensions will not contribute towards progress.

 We will live out our lives. Others will take our place. Life will go on as usual. Insha’ Allah, Pakistan will live forever.  But it will live well if we leave it in good shape for the coming generations. So long we have lived in Pakistan for our ourselves. We have given no consideration to those coming after us. It is our duty to see that when we depart, we leave a better Pakistan for them so that they find a prosperous Pakistan and do not desert and leave it out of fear that it is going to collapse.

We are going to ensure that it continues living .It was not created to wind up. It is a state created for the Muslims and for Islam. If we are firm in our faith, this country will never disappear. It is in our hands to ensure that. We can both keep it afloat and sink it. Insha’ Allah, we are going to pull it forward.

I would close with a prayer that Allah may enable us to follow the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (May peace be upon him) and become good Muslims so that we can discharge our duties to Allah as well as fulfill our obligations towards fellow-beings. As Dr. Mahmud Ghazi has explained, the duties towards fellow-beings are as important as those towards Allah. But we hardly talk about our obligations towards our fellow-beings.

It is with their discharge that society progresses and the country moves forward. The foremost obligation on us is that we should watch and set right those of our actions which cast their influence on our environment, our families, our neighbourhood and our country. We often neglect tha1 because that demands sacrifice on our part.

 I have by now unburdened myself of all that I had to say. If my talk has caused offence to anybody, I apologise for it. It is my way to speak out what is in my mind and heart. 

In the end, I express my gratitude to Dr. Mahmud Ghazi and the Ministry of Religious Affairs for providing me an opportunity to speak to you frankly. I was looking for it. I congratulate all those who have won prizes. I hope that in future also this Seerat Conference will continue to be convened and the discussions that are held will bring benefits to the people of this country and serve the cause of our Din.

Dr. Ghazi has briefed me about the topic that is going to form the subject of your discussions. I would be keenly looking forward to your contributions so that we can learn from you how to work for the betterment of Pakistan.

I am indeed very grateful to you all, both ladies and gentlemen. 

Pakistan Paindabad.

Islamabad Policy Research Institute

 

“Give him a fighting chance” Words of Praise for General Musharraf

By Ardeshir Cowasjee

Reading the English transcript of General Pervez Musharraf’s words,
spoken from his heart on June 5 at this year’s Seerat conference,
it could be said that ‘a son is born’ for he has in many ways
echoed the creed of Mohammad Ali Jinnah enunciated on August 11,
1947, before the first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, which he
adhered to up to his death.

The transcript, which was released last week by the government,
should be published in full by our press and distributed to every
school in the county to be made a compulsory text for those few
children of Pakistan who have the opportunity to learn and to
assimilate rightful thinking.

What did he say to the assembled learned pious men? He told them
(and us) a few home truths.

‘Where do we stand and which way are we going? We say Islam is a
Deen. It is no mere religion. It provides guidance to us in all
walks of life. And because of this we claim it is superior to all
other faiths. But how do we actually conduct ourselves in life?
Look at Muslims everywhere and in Pakistan, too! Is this what our
Deen teaches us?

‘We say Islam is for all times to come because as a Deen it relates
to practical life. But how does the world look at us? The world
sees us as backward and constantly going under. Is there any doubt
that we have been left behind although we claim Islam will carry us
forward in every age, every circumstance, in every land.

‘Islam is vibrant and forward-looking. But more than that we claim
it is the most tolerant of faiths. How does the world judge our
claim? It looks upon us as terrorists. We have been killing each
other and now we want to spread that violence and terror abroad.
Naturally the world regards us as terrorists. Our claim of
tolerance is phoney in its eyes…… It is time we took stock of
our position.’

And to the self-righteous, the ignorant know-alls: ‘We have no
right to tell anybody that he is bad and we are good, that we are
on the right path and he is on the wrong. Nobody has this right.’

He talked of the ‘model society built by the Holy Prophet’ and
asked us to try some comparison of our own society with it. Where
do we see justice and equity? Do you see it? In Pakistan? Where?
Look at the performance of the judiciary. Corruption is rampant and
misdemeanours the order of the day. Only ‘sifarish’ works. Merit
has no taker. The poor are oppressed. To be poor in Pakistan is a
curse…. And let us not talk of character. Can we discover it
anywhere amongst us? Are we honest and truthful? If we had been so
our country would not be where it stands today.’

He then, to use his own words, turned to more mundane ‘matters’.
‘Pakistan does not live in a void. It is a part of the globe. The
world has actually turned into a global village. No country can
live in isolation or stand-alone. For progress and development,
each country must interact with others.

‘Unfortunately we are weak because of the causes I have already
mentioned. We do not suffer from built-in weaknesses. We have all
the resources to develop. We ourselves are responsible for our
weaknesses. As we are weak, we have to keep in step with other
countries. First acquire strength, only then can you tell others to
fall in step with you. We are in no position to dictate to others.
Common sense demands that first you attain the position from where
you can ask others to follow the path you are treading. If you make
a premature attempt you will be crushed and further weakened.’

And even more home truths: ‘Seventy per cent of the world’s energy
resources are in Muslim countries. But our GDP, of the entire
Muslim Ummah, comes to barely 12 to 13 billion dollars. On the
other hand, Japan’s GDP stands at 5,500 billion and Germany’s at
2,500 billion dollars. In other words, Germany’s GDP is twice that
of the entire Ummah and Japan’s four and a half times, though we
are one-fourth of the world’s population sitting on 70 per cent of
its energy resources.

‘Why is this so? An analysis tells us that it is all because of a
difference in the advancement of human quality, of environmental
development. Other countries have swept forward. Just take
education. In the entire Muslim world there are some 380
universities of which only 25 are of a world ranking. In Japan 1000
universities award PhD degrees. The entire Muslim Ummah can boast
of a total of 500 PhDs. In England, each year 3000 PhDs are awarded
and in India 5000. It is this that should engage our attention.
When we make an assertion we must have strength to back it up.
Wisdom dictates that we should first acquire strength, come out on
top, and then talk.’

And having finally realized the importance of law and order if the
economy is to improve: ‘Our first priority is to improve the law
and order situation. Unless foreign investors come in, and our own
people make investments, we cannot make any economic headway. So
far they have not done so, neither foreign nor indigenous
investment has taken place. I confess our government has failed in
this. We have to induce investment… Undoubtedly, law and order is
an important factor which inhibits investment. Nobody will invest
where there is a fear of losing. An investor firstly looks at the
conditions pertaining in a country, particularly at law and
order….

‘Religious and sectarian harmony is therefore an inescapable
necessity in Pakistan. It will unite us and bring stability. Only
that will attract others to come to Pakistan. On a recent visit, a
Chinese minister remarked that investment is like a sparrow. It
flies out as a flock of pigeons but returns one by one. So this
sparrow will come to us one by one. We are trying to attract it by
throwing seeds of incentive before it and I ask you to lend us a
helping hand.

‘We provoke each other through meaningless statements. We can
improve the law and order situation by merely holding our tongues.
If we become a tolerant society where people with different
outlooks can live peacefully, investors will come.’

He cited one example of the never-ending unnecessary and damaging
boastfulness: ‘One hears the boast that ‘we will hoist our flag on
the Red Fort’ in Delhi, that we will do this, and do that. Have you
ever thought of the consequences of such talk on the Muslims of
India? Some have come to meet me and they have told me of the
repercussions our loose tongues have on their position….’

What does bragging and crowing achieve? ‘It provides India with the
excuse to call you terrorists and for others to declare you as
such, so that prospective investors stay far away from your
country. When you go around killing each other, who can consider
Pakistan a safe place for investment?’

Musharraf fired a masterly parting salvo at all the ambitious,
irresponsible people of whatever sect or bent of mind who seek
power through any means: ‘Above all, religion should never be
exploited for political gains. Do not sully our glorious faith. I
say this to all those who are guilty of it.’

Were the fearsome fighting Ulema and Mashaikh-i-Kiram listening?
Did they fully comprehend what he told them? We are surrounded by
far too many who would have been comfortable and happy riding with
the hordes of Changez Khan. They need to be reminded in the
language they understand that the days of saddling chargers,
unsheathing swords, and galloping into the sunset are long over.

Musharraf’s sincerity is not hidden by his SSG jacket. He is going
to meet a man who commands ten times his own weight and size of
force. Non-existent unity, a jihad mentality and bigotry will help
neither him nor his country. Jinnah’s exhortations to his people
had all to do with unity, faith and discipline. The last of the
attributes is what is needed now. And the man needs our help.

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