Address by the President of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf at the Fifty-Sixth Session of the United Nations General Assembly, 10 November 2001
Mr. Secretary General
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to extend to you, Mr. President, my felicitations on your election. I also wish to congratulate your predecessor Mr. Harri Holkeri for his stewardship of the millennium session of the General Assembly. Deep appreciation is also due to the Secretary General, Mr. Kofi Annan for his untiring efforts to translate the vision of the Millennium Declaration into policies and actions by the world community.
Mr. Secretary General, please also accept my heartiest congratulations on the award of the centenary Nobel Peace Prize conferred upon you and your organization and your election for a second term to your prestigious office.
Last year, at the Millennium Summit, all of us were looking forward to a renaissance in the new Millennium. A renaissance in the hearts and minds of people, for a better world where peace and justice would prevail. Unfortunately, today we gather against the somber backdrop of the terrorist outrage that the world witnessed in shock and horror, on that fateful day of 11th September. In seconds images of fire and death reached all of us. Thousands of innocent lives were lost in minutes. Eighty nations lost some of their brightest and their best. Pakistan, like the rest of the world mourned the colossal loss of innocent lives. The map of the world changed and the entire globe descended into a deep crisis. At a time of such great turmoil when there is indeed a need for clear thought and firm action, I come from Pakistan with a message of determination and resolve as well as a message of peace for all peoples.
The General Assembly this year meets under the shadow of a horrendous act of terror perpetrated against the people of the United States, an act for which no grievance or cause can ever be a justification, an act that must be condemned unambiguously and in the strongest words. This was an attack on humanity itself, and we all must therefore, unite to fight this scourge.
Now that the world has bonded itself to fight against terrorism, it is time for introspection. We owe it to posterity that in this dark hour we shed light on some dangerous and growing trends, misconceptions and misperceptions which, if not cleared, may lead the world into even greater disorder and disharmony.
The religion of Islam, and Muslims in various parts of the world, are being held responsible for the trials the world is facing. This point of view is total misplaced. Just as all religions teach peace and love for fellow beings, so does Islam place upon its adherents the obligation to do good, to be generous, merciful, kind and just to fellow beings. The Muslim greeting Assalam-o-Alaikum meaning "Peace be upon you" symbolizes the very essence of Islamic faith. Islam is a religion of peace, of compassion and of tolerance.
Terrorism is not a Christian, Buddhist, Jewish or Muslim belief. It is to be condemned no matter who the perpetrator, be it an individual, a group or a state.
We need to ask ourselves what really causes these extreme acts around the world. To my mind it is the unresolved political disputes the world over: disputes in Bosnia, Kosovo, Palestine and Kashmir, and other places. Unfortunately all these disputes involve Muslims, and more sadly the Muslims happen to be the victims in all which tends to give a religious tinge to these other political disputes. The lack of progress in resolution of these disputes has created in them a sense of deprivation, hopelessness and powerlessness. The frustration gets even worse when disputes like Kashmir and Palestine, remain unsettled for decades despite the United Nations Security Council resolutions. The question then is, whether it is the people asking for their rights in accordance with UN resolutions who are to be called terrorists, or whether it is the countries refusing to implement the UN resolutions who are the perpetrators of state terrorism. In Kashmir, Indian occupation forces have killed over 75,000 Kashmiris attributing these killings to foreign terrorists. It is time India must stop such deceits. UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir must be implemented.
Media images of the Palestine child Muhammad Al Durrah were etched on the hearts and minds of people all over the world. It is perverse to regard the rape of Kashmiri women as a punishment inflicted in the course of war. The images of that moment when the World Trade Centre Tower came down will remain definitive for all the agony, disbelief and loss that people suffer from acts of terror all over the world. All forms of terror must be condemned, prevented and fought against, but in so doing the world must not trample upon the genuine rights, aspirations and urges of the people who are fighting for their liberation and are subjected to repression by state terrorism.
To fight the extremist, deprive him of his motivation. The extremist survives in an environment where millions suffer injustice and indignity. Deprive him of his support by giving the world peace, security, justice and dignity for all peoples regardless of faith, religion or creed.
A just and honourable solution for the people of Kashmir, an end to the miseries of the people of Palestine are the major burning issues that have to be addressed vigorously, boldly, imaginatively and urgently. Unless we go to the root causes, cosmetics will only make matters worse. Consider the analogy of a tree. Terrorists are like so many leaves, you take out some, there will be plenty more and an unending growth. Terrorist networks are like branches, you prune a few and there will be others and more growth. The only way is to go for the roots. Eliminate the roots and there will be no tree. The roots, Mr. President, are the causes, which need to be addressed, tackled and eliminated, fairly, justly and honourably. Give people back their dignity, their self-respect, their honour.
In essence, therefore, to tackle the issue of terrorism in its entirety, we need to follow a three pronged strategy of going for individual terrorists, moving against terrorist organizations and addressing disputes around the world in a just manner.
After the events of 11th September, Pakistan took a deliberate principled decision to join the World Coalition in its fight against terrorism. This decision has catapulted us once again as a front line state in the battle against terrorism. While the people of Pakistan have accepted this new reality, they still suffer from a sense of betrayal and abandonment, when they were left in the lurch in 1989 after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan. Then also, we were a front line state and what we got in return was three million refugees, a shattered economy, drugs and Klashnikov culture, to be faced single handedly through our limited resources. Pakistan only hopes that the mistakes of the past will not be repeated and Pakistan's legitimate concerns will be addressed. Our economy again faces a crisis of a fallout of the operations in Afghanistan. We need financial and commercial support on an urgent basis and hope that this will be forthcoming.
After 11 September Pakistan had been trying its utmost with the Afghan government ever since Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaida became an international issue, till the last moment, to avert military action in Afghanistan. Regrettably, we did not meet with success and the coalition operation against terrorists in Afghanistan continues with no immediate end in sight. Sadly enough, the civilian causalities in this action are being projected more as an open war against the already poor, suffering and innocent people of Afghanistan. The World in general and Pakistan in particular mourns the loss of these innocent lives and sympathizes with the bereaved. It is desirable that the military operation be as short and accurately targeted as possible. It is also essential that a fallback political strategy be evolved which could attain the same objective as being sought through military application.
In its entirety, dealing with Afghanistan, involves a three pronged strategy - the Military, Political and Humanitarian cum Rehabilitation Strategies. It must remain the effort of the coalition to prevent a vacuum, leading to anarchy, after achieving military objectives, through immediate application of Political and Rehabilitation strategies.
In our view, the political set-up in Afghanistan must be homegrown and not imposed, ensuring the unity and territorial integrity of Afghanistan, with a broad based, multi-ethnic dispensation, representative of the demographic composition of the country.
The people of Afghanistan have been suffering the ravages and devastation of conflicts for over two decades. It is the moral obligation of the World Community to support them generously. Assistance to Afghanistan should be in two forms. Firstly, the ongoing humanitarian assistance and secondly, the post military operations, rehabilitation and reconstruction.
To offset the effects of the ongoing military operation, it is imperative that we launch a more coordinated and concerted humanitarian relief effort inside and outside Afghanistan with a more generous funding. This will go a long way to alleviate the sufferings of the common Afghan.
It is equally important that concurrently we formulate a post operation rehabilitation programme, once peace returns to Afghanistan. This effort would entail, at the minimum, restoration of water management systems, reviving of agriculture through land development, reconstruction of physical infrastructure(Roads, buildings & utilities) and establishment of institutions.
A stable and peaceful Afghanistan is in the vital interest of the region and in particular of Pakistan. Conditions must be created for more than three million refugees in Pakistan to return to their country. We propose the establishment of an "Afgan Trust Fund" under UN auspices for the rehabilitation and reconstruction process.
I would now like to focus on the harsh realities in the developing countries which have a relationship with extremism of all forms. Poverty and deprivation lead to frustration, making the masses vulnerable to exploitation by extremist organizations. It is the collective, moral responsibility of the developed world to address this issue squarely, through substantive economic uplift, poverty alleviation and social action programmes in the developing countries. Economic imbalances have to be removed for a just, equitable and harmonious World Order. A major step in this direction would be to reduce if not eliminate the debt burden, hanging as a millstone around the necks of the poor and the under developed. The bigger tragedy of the third world is that their rulers together with their minions plunder the country's wealth and are afforded easy access and safe havens to stash away the loot in the First World. Since long, restrictions have been imposed on laundering of drug money and recently money for terrorists is being choked. Why can similar restrictions not be imposed on loot money laundering?
I appeal through this forum to all the developed countries to legislate against deposits of ill gotten money, to assist in investigation against the looters and to ensure the early return of the plundered wealth to the countries of their origin. In fact I would not be far off the mark if I stated that with the return of this looted money, many of the developing countries may be able to pay back their debts and revive their economies.
Pakistan is also deeply conscious of the nuclear dimension of the security environment of our region, the danger it poses and the responsibility it places on nuclear weapon states, particularly the two nuclear states in South Asia. We are ready to discuss how Pakistan and India can create a stable South Asian security mechanism through a peaceful resolution of disputes, preservation of nuclear and conventional balance, confidence building measures and non-use of force prescribed by the UN Charter. In this context, we are ready to discuss nuclear and missile restraints as well as nuclear risk reduction measures with India in a structured, comprehensive and integrated dialogue.
Pakistan is fully alive to the responsibilities of its nuclear status. We have declared a unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing. Pakistan was not the first to initiate nuclear tests and will not be the first to resume them. We are ready to formalize a bilateral treaty with India for mutual test ban. We have strengthened our export controls and have established multi-layered custodial controls on our nuclear assets. Let me assure you all, that our strategic assets are well guarded and in very safe hands. We have constantly upgraded our command and control measures and instituted an elaborate nuclear command control mechanism for iron clad custodial control to ensure the safety and security of our assets. Pakistan is opposed to an arms race in South Asia, be it nuclear or conventional. We will maintain deterrence at the minimum level.
I would now like to very briefly cover the internal developments in Pakistan. Over the past two years the focus has been on our Economic Revival, Poverty Alleviation, Improving Governance, Political Restructuring and Introducing Genuine Democracy in the country. We have successfully put in place a sound democratic structure, based on empowerment of the people at the grass root levels. A revolutionary step has been taken to ensure 1/3rd participation of women at District level governing councils.
I want to put on record in this August gathering that Pakistan is proud of this representation and empowerment of women, which is a unique feature in the world. Our resolve of holding elections to Provincial and National Assemblies and the Senate in October 2002 in accordance wit the road map announced last August, will remain unchanged inspite of the prevailing environment in the region.
In conclusion and in keeping with this time of enormous trials and tribulations we are going through, I wish to make an appeal.
An appeal for the sake of mankind, for the sake of our future generation and for the sake of a better world.
Let justice prevail, let no people be wronged, let sufferings be eliminated, let discontent be addressed, let humanity arise as one Nation to eliminate subjugation of the weak, and let there be PEACE.
10 November 2001