Address to the Nation by the President of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf, on the occasion of 55th Independence Day, August 14, 2002
Bismillaher Rehmaner Raheem.
My dear countrymen; Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Asslam-u-Alakum;
I take this opportunity to extend my sincere felicitations to all my Pakistani brothers and sisters on this auspicious occasion of our Independence Day. Exactly 55 years ago today at 11.50 p.m. all India Radio Lahore broadcast the following announcement, "at midnight the independent sovereign state of Pakistan will come into existence". Then after 10 minutes at the strike of midnight hour came the following announcement, "this is Pakistan Broadcasting Service", a solitary sentence 5 simple words but what a momentous victory for the 71 years old Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Quaid-e- Azam, the great leader, the founding father of the new nation who had fought against such odds to create a new homeland for the Muslims of India. Victory also for Allama Iqbal who had conceived the very concept of Pakistan and whom Quaid-e-Azam had described that his death in 1938 as one of the greatest poets, sears and philosophers of humanity. Victory also for hundreds and thousands of Muslim leaders throughout the length and breadth of the land who had steadfastly worked with the Quaid in the struggle for independence. Victory finally for millions of Muslim throughout the subcontinent who had instantly and whole-heartedly followed the Quaid-e-Azam in transforming the Pakistan movement into a revolutionary movement and had spared no sacrifice in order to make Pakistan a living reality.
My dear countrymen;
Today, we pay homage to these great men and women who spent their lifetime waging a villain struggle to secure a homeland so that future generations that is we could live in a free country.
It is also a day to pay homage to the father of our nation Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah whose greatness and achievements have been recorded by an eminent historian in these words, "few individuals significantly alter the course of history, fewer still modify the map of the world, hardly anyone can be credited with a nation state. Muhammad Ali Jinnah did all three." They can not be a more befitting and better deserve tribute to the father of this nation. Independence days are milestones in the historical journey of a nation. They provide an opportunity for a solemn reflection on our performance. Every nation faces ups and downs in its evolution. We too have experienced our share of ups and downs in the course of the last 55 years. May be dominated by an over dose of downs but vibrant nations don’t dwell and waste time and energy on regretting over their failures. They in fact learned from such experiences and move on with enriched experience. In October 1999, my government was faced with challenges in almost all spheres of governance, areas which needed serious and urgent attention including revival of fledgling economy, strengthening of the federation and national cohesion, improvement of law and order, depoliticization of state institutions, introduction of a system of accountability and rebuilding of national confidence and morale. These were all priority areas for me, as I wanted to pull the nation out of the political and economic morass that existed then. Two years and 10 months is but a small moment in the life of a nation yet looking back I can take satisfaction in the fact that we were not only able to arrest the rapid down slide of the nation in time but in fact are well on our way to recovery. Substantial and noteworthy progress has been made on our agenda in this short span of time. As a matter of policy and learning from past experience we did not opt for cosmetic changes and quick fixes for the sake of gaining instant popularity. Instead we decided to rebuild and reinvigorate state institutions and undertook fundamental and far-reaching reforms to ensure sustainable and long lasting growth. Briefly, our strategy was to get out of the debt trap way we were spending over 50% our resources in debt servicing through effected debt restructuring and acquisition of more funds on very soft terms we were able to create fiscal space. The financial resources thus released are being used to invest in fast returned development projects, which will give us higher returns than the debt service liability that we incur. The areas of concentration to utilize these additional resources productively are agriculture, information technology, energy, small and medium size industry and communication. As a policy the government has followed merit based practices, principles of good governance have helped us to ensure that the government has at all times kept itself clean and above board and all decisions and actions have been taken in a very transparent manner. In the last nearly three years we have demonstrated to the world that good governance economic progress and elimination of corruption is possible in Pakistan. The world accepts this now. This is no mean achievement when compared with the despair and despondency, steering us in the face in 1999. Internationally Pakistan’s image in the comity of nations today is tall and respected from the threat of being reduced to a Praia status only a few years ago Pakistan has emerged as a respectable and responsible member of the world community.
My dear countrymen;
Pakistan thinks and speaks the language of peace. We believe that stability and harmony are the answers for improving human conditions in our region. We owe peace to the people of this part of the world whose aspirations continue to be thwarted fighting the poverty line, provocative rhetoric and war hysteria serve no purpose instead they lead to inflexibility, confrontation and only complicate issues. It is time to give peace a chance. In order to achieve durable peace in the South Asian region, it is imperative that we resolve the long-standing Kashmir dispute. Pakistan supports the principle struggle of the people of occupied Kashmir for their right of self-determination since long promised to them by the international community. The struggle for self-determination of our Kashmiri brothers is a sacred trust with us, which can never be compromised.
The announcement by India to hold elections in Indian occupied Kashmir is yet another effort to give a mask of legitimacy to India’s illegal occupation of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan’s position on this issue is based on United Nations Security Council resolutions. Elections can not be a substitute for a free and impartial plebiscite under the auspices of the United Nations. The All Parties Hurriyat Conference, the sole credible voice of the Kashmiri people has already rejected the holding of such elections, as have some other parties. The government of India has organized such farcical elections in the past a well. These so-called elections have invariably been retched and have always been boycotted by the Kashmiri people if the past is any guide the elections planned by India will once again take place without the participation of the Kashmiri people and they are only designed to obtain pre-determined results. The intimidating presence and pressure of hundreds of thousands of Indian security personnel to force the Kashmiri people to participate in these elections will further deny such elections, any semblance of legitimacy. India claims that peaceful election in Indian Occupied Kashmir would be a test of Pakistan’s sincerity for a dialogue with India, this is a self-serving argument. Pakistan can not accept any responsibility for developments inside Indian Occupied Kashmir nor can India try to shift the onus of the failure of elections to Pakistan. The Kashmiri struggle is indigenous and the rejection of these elections is a decision that the Kashmiris themselves have taken. While reiterating our strong desire for the peaceful settlement of the core issue of Kashmir and all other outstanding issues, we want to make it abundantly clear that we will never be subdued by coercion, no one dare think of any adventurism across our borders.
My dear countrymen;
Your Arm Forces are standing guard on the country’s borders. Let life and business continues as usual with the confidence that your valiant forces have the Juzba-I-Eeman not only to defend every inch of the motherland but also to carry the fight across the border Inshaallah. You can rest in comfort; your Arm Forces are wide-awake and fully capable.
Ladies and Gentlemen;
Pakistan has been a victim of terrorism for a long. After the 11th September incident we have been at the forefront of international war on terrorism. We stand firmly committed to root out this scourge so that the world is a safer place to live in. At home and insignificant minority has held the entire nation hostage to their misconceived views of Islam and fanatical acts of terrorism. They are spreading the malice of sectarianism laced with poison of religious intolerance and violence. The recent attacks specially directed at the places of worship of our Christian brothers and sisters are the most shameful and despicable example of terrorism. All this in the name of Islam, these misled criminals and the terrorists patrons and tutors even have the audacity to think their actions are the rout to Jinut. Is this the true spirit of Islam? Is this the religion that we all are so proud of? Where is the tolerance, the magnanimity, the chivalry and the large heartedness that characterized true Muslims? We were never so cowardly as to hide and then try to kill children and women other than the innocent victims who get killed, who is the loser, nobody but Pakistan, your country and the poor of Pakistan whose sustenance depends on jobs through investment which shies away. Are we playing in the hands of enemies of Pakistan?
My Pakistani brothers and sisters, we all have to put in a joint effort to root out those who are maligning our religion and tarnishing the image of Pakistan while imagining themselves to be ultra Islamists. There are no quick fix solutions to the problem of sectarianism and extremism, they are to be tackled in a systematic and methodical manner. This government is doing its utmost to meet this menace frontally to catch the bull by the horn and overall strategy is under execution to enhance all round law enforcement capability. Firstly the Police Ordinance 1861 has been replaced with the Police Ordinance 2002 after a short period of 141 years. A counter terrorism organization has been established and is being made more potent with better training and better equipment.
The Law Enforcement Agencies are being strengthened with qualitative improvement through better induction, better training and better equipment.
The Judiciary has also taken steps to improve functioning of Anti Terrorists and other courts.
By the grace of Allah results have already started showing our security agencies have already made very important breakthroughs. A sizeable number of gangs of terrorists have been busted and almost all, I repeat almost all top criminals with head money have been apprehended. The Anti Terrorists courts have also awarded death sentences and exemplary punishments to about 80 criminals. Our response to the Murree and Taxila attacks was swift and effective, all the perpetrators of the attacks have either been killed or all of them have been arrested. More than that just before I entered I got the news from the Interior Minister that they were about 15 terrorists at large involved in these incidents and planning more incidents all of them have been arrested now. This is commendable work done by security and intelligence agencies and also the judiciary in tandem with each other. They have accomplished all this at the peril of their lives at times and I know that.
We applaud their courage and the resourcefulness. It is time that instead of criticizing these agencies as we always do we appreciate their efforts and lend them our full backing and support. I am confident, we will Inshaallah break the back of all these criminals and the organization supporting them.
I appeal to all Ulemas. Mashaikhs, religious political parties and organization to come forward actively to protect Islam from such distortion and abuse.
Ladies and Gentlemen;
Political restructuring has been one of the four areas of focus of my government. We started at the gross roots level empowering the people of the district, tehsil and the union councils. This has ushered in a silent revolution where the destiny of the people has been given into their hands by devolving political administrative and financial authority to them. This will be embedded in the Constitution to give them sustainability.
In October we shall Inshaallah usher in an era of true democracy. This fine transition is critical to the future of democracy in Pakistan. We all therefore, owe it to our country to enter this phase with maturity and a fresh resolve. People of Pakistan have undergone rigors of three general elections in the last decade and have gradually become disenchanted as those who were given chance again and again failed to meet the expectations of the people of Pakistan. The public demands a change of faces in the future election, in the hope that their new leaders will strive to develop the nation and improve the lot of the common man instead of Siphoning the countries wealth to distant lands to serve their personal interest, their personal comforts and their personal pleasures. How to bring about this change is the question? The government can only take facilitative action but the ultimate authority lies with you, the people of Pakistan. Let us see what the government has done to encourage a change and bring in new leadership. The voting age has been reduced to 18 years, may be our youth elect better people. Minimum education level of BA has been introduced; this eliminates to be exact 41% of the previous legislature. Qualification and disqualification of candidates Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution have been reinforced; this should eliminate looters, plunderers, criminals, bank defaulters, tax evaders and utility bill defaulters from coming into the Assemblies. It is now up to the Election Commission to enforce this without fear or favour. A new Political Parties Act has been introduced to bring democracy within political parties and to throw up true leaders. 60 seats have been reserved for women, this will, I am sure introduce a new perspective into the Assemblies. Seats in the Assemblies and the Senate have been increased to allow entry to fresh blood; this is what the government is doing and has done. It now remains up to you to understand the value of your vote. You have to vote for the right person, irrespective of his party, an individual who will serve the nation with honesty, sincerity and dedication on this solemn occasion, let me give the whole nation a personal guarantee, I will take all possible measures to ensure a free, fair and a transparent election.
My dear countrymen;
Pakistan is blessed with a power potential in its human capital and natural resources to earn it a place of honour in the comity of nations. There is no external threat that we can not handle. The enemy lies within. When Pakistan came into being, we were physically at our weakest, our enemy thought we will disintegrate. It was the sheer resolve, patriotic fervor, honesty of purpose of our senior generation and their faith in the future of Pakistan which kept this country alive and moving forward, many of them are alive today, I salute all of them.
I am reminded of a moving story about the Pakistani flag. A few day before 14 August, 1947 at an international scout Jamboree in France, the contingent of wise scout was representing the then British India, some young Muslim Scouts within this group came to know about the new Pakistani flag, such was their excitement and the desire to be a part of this historic event that they promptly decided to make this new flag. This was done by stitching together pieces of green from the turban of one scout and white cut from the shirt of another. Next morning on 14 August at 9.ooam they proudly hoisted their new country’s flag side by side with 85 other nations accompanied by salutes and cheers from hundreds of scouts and guides gathered from all over the world. Such was the spirit and feelings of national fervor in those days. It led ordinary boys and girls, men and women to do extra ordinary things, that generation did not wait for someone else to tell them what to do. They took initiatives of their own. They did things because they believe that it was the right thing to do. People even the poor people open their homes to incoming refugees and help them generously because they knew that those refugees had left behind their homes, lands and lifetime savings. Government officers and staff made do with whatever they had at their disposal. They knew that the new government did not have adequate financial resources to offer them even the basic minimum office supplies. They worked in makeshift premises, used thorns to write and used as common pins, recycled used envelops by turning them inside out and used crates as tables and chairs. Businessmen rose to the occasion to build our economy from nothing. They did not profiteer. They did not exploit. They knew and accepted that they had to start from scratch and they had to operate under tremendous business constraints. I can go on and on and give you hundreds of examples of individuals and groups of people from that generation, our senior generation, who selflessly made vital contributions to the country in whatever way they could. They did not mourn. They did not complain. They simply took initiative and did whatever had to be done for the good of the country because they knew that whatever was good for the country was also good for them. They were devoted to the cause. They were enthusiastic to have an opportunity to make a difference. They were determined to show to the world that despite dooms day scenario wished by the enemies of the new country they will succeed at all cost.
In short they had a purpose in life. They put Pakistan on the road to progress but then along the way we started to flounder. It is our generation, my generation that lasts its bearing. Why did we felter? Why did we mess it up? Where did we go wrong? How is it that our parents see dreams have turned into such horrible nightmares now and the sad indeed tragic fact is that some of us have started doubting our own abilities, the nation’s abilities and thus failure has become a self fulfilling prophecy and now we have become so negative and cynical about anything and everything that this seems to have become a future of daily life. Pessimism, cynicism, negativism are deadly diseases they now at the core, we have to shun them like a plague. Let us have faith in ourselves, let us be positive. Let us each one of us have the firm belief that yes I can change Pakistan for the better. Have the firm belief that yes I can change Pakistan for the better. Yes I can make a difference, yes I know that my contribution would be like a drop in ocean but then they would not be an ocean without many many drops.
Now I want to talk to you, one sitting upstairs, the vibrant youth of Pakistan, the future hope of Pakistan, we have now steered Pakistan out of trouble waters but we still have a long way to go, on our way out we have tried to create conditions for you to take charge and steer the ship of Pakistan into high seas at full sail. We have tried to create these conditions for you. The future is with you. You are its custodians and its ultimate beneficiaries; nothing can come in your way to the path of success. Pakistan’s future is bright. Your destiny is in your hands. It is entirely up to you how you ship and mould the future as Allama Iqbal had said "Khuda nay Aaj tuk uss qum ki halat nahee badhly, na ho jis ko khial aap aapni halat kay badulnay ka.
My young compatriots, my advice to you is to build high character. I quote Quaid-e-Azam,"what is character, the highest sense of honour and the highest sense of integrity, conviction, incorruptibility, readiness at any time to efface oneself for the collective good of the nation and according to Allama Iqbal and this is again for the youth, "uss qum ko shamsheer kee hajat nahee rahtee ho jes kay jwano kee khodhi sooratay folad". Cultivate patriotic fervor in yourselves, never take Pakistan for granted.This nation came into being because millions of people were willing to sacrifice everything they had because they believe in it. Wherever you are never forget that you are Pakistanis first, hold your head high, be proud of being a Pakistani. You have a rich heritage, Pakistan is young. Our journey has only begun. Let me conclude by quoting two verses from Allam Iqbal,
"toheed kee amanat seeno may ha hamaray, assan nahee mittana naamo nishan hamara".
" aiy arz-e-pak taree hurmat pay cut murain hum, ha khoon taree rugon may ub tuk rawan hamara".
Pakistan Zindaabad, Pakistan paindaabad.