President's Address to the Nation
President's Address to the Nation on Thursday, July 21, 2005
"My Dear Countrymen!
It has been long since I addressed you last time. A number of developments and incidents have taken place in our region, around the globe and the Muslim world. And internally, we are passing through a delicate phase in our history. I think at this stage the nation needs unity and understand the issues in their proper perspective. So I thought that I should address you.
I would like to review briefly the regional and international situation and the state of affairs in the Muslim world. I would also like to dwell on internal matters.
We need to talk about the world because we or for that matter any other country does not exist in a vacuum. We have to have contacts and maintain relations with the world. We have to develop trade and economic ties with the members of the international community. I believe that without maintaining relations with other country no country can achieve development and progress is not possible otherwise.
If we look at the world, we see it passing through a turbulence. Bomb blasts and suicide bombings are taking place. A number of innocent lives are being lost all around. Upon examination we will find out that it is the Muslims who are the perpetrators and it’s the Muslims again who are suffering. This is our misfortune.
It is all the more regrettable that whenever such incidents of terrorism happen our country directly or indirectly gets linked to these acts of terrorism. The accused may either have lived here, passed through our country or travelled to Afghanistan through our territory. This is a matter of grave concern and sadness for me.
I see these incidents as tarnishing the image of Islam in the world and the world is beginning to see Islam as sanctioning intolerance, extremism and terrorism. I refute this kind of thinking and strive to project Islam in its true perspective as a religion which gives message of peace and brotherhood. But as they say in English that actions speak louder than words. Actions outweigh words due to which the religion is being subjected to disrepute.
Recently, an act of terrorism occurred in London. We condemn it very strongly. I think whosoever are involved in this act are not human beings. Because, if they are carrying out these acts in the name of Islam, we know that killing of one innocent person amounts to murder of the entire humanity. I fail to understand as to what kind of Islam are they following.
The question is who is at the receiving end. It is Pakistan and the Pakistanis living there who are suffering.What have the terrorists achieved from these acts? Infamy, disrepute and exacerbation of the plight of the Muslims. More trouble for the Muslims. This is what they have managed to achieve. I am at a loss to understand their strategy.
At this point I would like to say something in English.
I would like to send a message to Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Government. We very strongly condemn this act of terrorism. I don't think that the perpetrators of this act can be called human beings. We stand together in this struggle and fight against terrorism to the end until we emerge victorious against them and eliminate them.
Having said that I would like to express some concern at aspersions in the media being cast on Pakistan. We certainly have a problem here which we are trying to address very strongly. But may I say that England also has a problem which needs to be addressed.
Three out of the four accused people in London bombings are accused to be Pakistanis. The fourth one is from Jamaica. I really dont know if the aspersion on three Pakistanis is that they got indoctrinated when they came to Pakistan, where did the Jamaican got his indoctrination. The other issue that I would like to raise is that these three, if they are Pakistanis they are from Pakistani parentage, they happen to be British. They had been born, bred and educated in England.
There are extremist organizations in the United Kingdom - Hizbul Tahreer and Al-Muhajaroon, who operate with full impunity in that area.They had the audacity to pass an edict against my life and yet they operate with impunity. I know that they also give sermons of hate, anger and violence. Therefore, I would like to say that there is a lot to be done by Pakistan and may I suggest that there is a lot to be done in England also.
The correct strategy to deal with this is to encourage and support each other rather than speaking against each other and weakening the overall cause. As I said we are together in the fight against terrorism, we need to remain together and fight it together.
Now I want to speak about the Muslim Ummah. A look at the Muslim Ummah would reveal that it is mired in abysmal conditions and is in turmoil. It is on a descendant course, going from bad to worse with the passage of time. We possess 70 per cent of world energy and 40 per cent of natural resources. Yet we are the poorest, the most illiterate and lag behind in the social sector.
This is a knowledge-based world. If any country sets upon scaling progress, it has to do so by acquiring expertise in science. The situation in Pakistan has come to such a pass that when we ask madrassas to teach science subjects to their pupils they say we will imparting religious education alone.
So how can we move forward in such a scenario. I would like to remind these madrassas that the word "Ilm" has been used 800 times in the Holy Qur'an. After words Allah and Rub, this is the most frequently used word. Ilm is also worldly ilm. So we should teach our children both religious and worldly knowledge so that the graduating students may join the mainstream of national life and take up professions of choice.
Pakistan's future and destiny is linked with the Islamic Ummah and that is why I would like to talk about it. That is also essential we are an Islamic country. Not only that but Pakistan is the only ideological country, carved out for the Muslims of the region. Therefore, we are the most important part of the Muslim world.
In addition to that Pakistan is playing a pivotal role in the fight against extremism and terrorism. Because of this very fact, we should focus our energy on steering the entire Muslim Ummah forward.
Now I would like to talk about the region which I consider necessary in view of what we have gone through during the last 26 years. The world knows little about what we have gone through. Unrest in the region started in 1979 when Russia entered Afghanistan and at that time the West and the US started a Jehad against Russia. Pakistan played a central role in this Jehad, which was the right thing to do because Pakistan at that time was concerned by the Russian intervention. We were facing threats on two fronts at that time as on the Eastern side the danger already existed while Russia's desire to head towards the warm waters also created threat on our western border. That is why our decision to wage a jehad along with our allies against Russia was correct.
But who were involved in this jehad and who fought the war. First of all were Afghans themselves followed by 20,000 to 30,000 Mujahideen who were brought from various Islamic countries . They were given training, weapons, money - everything- through Pakistan and were sent to Afghanistan. The third party were the Taliban who were provided training in Pakistani Madrassahs. They were given weapons and sent inside Afghanistan. These were the people who were waging Jehad in Afghanistan, which continued for ten years. These people kept on fighting against Russia while the West, the US and Pakistan continued to help them. Russia was defeated after ten years and went back but the other countries who started this Jehad also left, leaving everything behind and Pakistan was left alone to face the situation on its own.
And then what happened - afterwards a civil war broke out in Afghanistan and all the tribes started fighting each other and the country was destroyed. And what was the result. First of all four million Afghan refugees poured into Pakistan and the second thing was the Taliban factor, which emerged on the scene in 1995-96. And the third thing - those 20,000 to 30,000 mujahideen what happened to them as they dispersed-some of them remained in Afghanistan while others entered Pakistan. There was a huge cache of weapons and ammunition in the border areas of Pakistan which had very serious repercussions on our society. From 1989 to 2001, the situation remained the same and at the same time independence struggle also started in the occupied Kashmir, which also impacted on our society. Then the 9/11 incident took place and the operation started by the allied forces had a separate implications for our society. The civil war still continues for the last 26 years – 1979 to 2005- on our western border and since 1989 i.e for the last 16 years, the struggle for independence is still continuing on our east in Kashmir which also had a very serious and negative impact on our society. This introduced the Klashnikov culture in Pakistan and the al-Qaeda came to our cities and mountains.
Besides, dozens of the Mujahideen organizations surfaced who were openly recruiting and training the common citizens. Funds and donations were being collected to buy weapons. Jehadi literature had been published in this region for the last 25 years. It has all been happening in our society for the last 25 years and its all happening in this region. All this had a negative impact on our society. On top of it, some political elements, political parties and individuals are trying to gain political mileage out of this situation.
I want to ask a question from these terrorists and extremists, what is their objective and what do they want to achieve. Do they want supremacy of Islam, do they want to win. Do they think that they will be victorious and take Islam to its glory. If they think this, they are mistaken. They will get nothing out of these acts of terrorism and extremism. The only thing, they will earn, is a bad name for Islam and destruction and devastation of Muslims.
I would like to ask a question from my Pakistani brothers and sisters, should Pakistan play a role in bringing about improvement in the region, the world and the Ummah. Do we have the capability? Do we want to do this? In my view, we can help take the Ummah, the world and this region towards peace and prosperity. And we should play this role so that the stature of Pakistan is enhanced. We all know that this world is for the entire humanity and is a common heritage. We should make efforts for the betterment of this world, for our next generation, otherwise they will have to pay the price. We should help resolve the political disputes affecting the Ummah. We also need to play our role in improving the socio-economic conditions of the Ummah. Therefore, with these thoughts that in the Muslim Ummah and in the world, Pakistan has a role that we should play, with this thought in mind, I presented a strategy of enlightened moderation. It is a two-pronged strategy. One prong of the strategy requires the Muslim Ummah to reject terrorism and extremism and raise voice against them.
And, at the same time, we should concentrate on socio-economic development and prosperity of its people to take the Ummah forward. The Ummah, instead of going on a descending course, should move on an ascending course. Under the second prong, we demand from the West and the United States to help resolve all political disputes involving the Muslim Ummah, with justice. And this is the responsibility of the West and the United States to do this. And not only this, they should also help in improving the socio-economic conditions of the Muslim Ummah.
In my view, this strategy spells a win-win situation for all and especially for the Islamic Ummah. It will put the Ummah on the ascending course and will help address the political disputes and our socio-economic conditions will start improving. I am very happy and proud to note that OIC in its last meeting accepted our strategy of enlightened moderation and a commission of eminent persons was constituted. From Pakistan, Sayed Mushahid Hussain is among the ten members of the Commission. They already have three sittings of which one held in Pakistan. They have prepared their recommendations. These recommendations are that the OIC should be given a new dynamic face, it has a new name, it has a new charter.
In my view, OIC should have a separate department of Islamic thought which should consist of knowledgeable, educated scholars who could explain the true spirit of Islam to the Ummah and to the World as to what is real Islam and its real direction.
I am very happy that OIC foreign ministers in their recent meeting have accepted these recommendations. There will now be a special OIC summit in Makkah. If all OIC leaders together sign these recommendations in the Khana-e-Ka'aba, this will be a major event. It is my endevour to take the Ummah in that direction. We also desire that peace comes to our region and that is why we are holding talks with India and want to seek a justified solution of all those disputes, which in the past led to many a wars between the two countries. The dispute which tops the list is the issue of Kashmir, which we want to solve according to the aspirations of the people of Kashmir. In this regard I would like to say that I am very hopeful that we will be able to solve the disputes and to bring complete peace in the region. I have talked about Ummah, peace in the world and peace in this region.
Now I would come to the internal situation. To begin with I will very briefly touch upon what we have achieved in the past five years. Pakistan's stature has grown internationally and we have an international standing, we also have an important position in the Ummah. Our economy has strengthened and we have laid the foundations for a long lasting democracy in the country and I hope that democracy would not derail in future. Now my whole attention is towards transferring those benefits on to the people of the country and I will personally work for the prosperity and betterment of the people. I will see to it that poverty, unemployment and inflation decline. I will solve the water issue. The lining of the water courses is costing Rs 66 billion and I am personally supervising it. Besides we will also solve the issue of big dams. I will also focus on providing quality education and health facilities at the lowest tiers. The provision of clean drinking water in this regard is very important and absence of clean water is a serious issue and 60 per cent of diseases are related due to contaminated water. The government has therefore decided that by year 2007-08 people of all villages will get clean drinking water. By this time every village should also get electricity. These are the areas where I am focusing my attention so that the results of economic progress reach down to the masses.
Now the question is what we have to do in future? We have to do two things, first to bring about provincial harmony and the second to bring about religious and sectarian harmony in the society. These are major problems which we have to solve. These are eating us from within like termite. In the area of provincial harmony there have been neglect and mistakes and now we are tackling those. Development works in the smaller provinces are being taken up in the smaller provinces and the major portion of the funds in this respect are being spent on these. The small provinces have demanded NFC award. I am pleased to note that after my talks with the four Chief Ministers, they have expressed their confidence in me and said that whatever decision I take, it will be acceptable to them. Insha Allah, this issue will be solved soon.
As far as the provincial autonomy is concerned, the parliamentary committee needs to review the concurrent list and I am sure that a just solution will be found with consensus from all the provinces. These are all positive aspects and I am hopeful that there will be enhanced provincial harmony and they will be getting their rights with justice.
Now I will talk about the issue of big dams, which I have to solve, and Insha Allah I will do it. I have hopes from all Pakistanis to support me. If you note that this year there have been flood in River Kabul, River Swat, River Chitral and all of this water spilled into the oceans and went waste. This water could not have been stored at Bhasha dam, as it is up in the North as River Kabul joins River Indus in Attock. Had we gone for the Kalabagh dam, not only this water would have been stored for future use but we would also have been protected from the floods. We could have used the water for irrigation and for our future agricultural needs. I appeal to all my Pakistani brothers and sisters to support me, particularly those of Sindh and NWFP to extend their support and I assure you that whatever decision I take that will not only be in the best interest of the country but also for Sindh and NWFP.
Now I come towards another complicated matter to bring about sectarian harmony and peace in the society. Now I would like to talk about things relating to our religion. I am not a scholar but no one should, either, doubt my Islamic integrity. I am a Sayed. Secondly Allah Almighty has bestowed me with the blessings which very few people have been. Whenever I went to perform Haj or Umra, the doors of 'Khanna-e-Ka'aba were opened to me and I went inside Khanna Ka'aba six times. And on one of these occasions the "door of forgiveness", which is inside the Khana Kaba, was also opened for me and I raised "Allah-o-Akbar from the rooftop of Khanna Ka'aba from where Hazarat Bilal (RA) called for prayers (Azan), the very first time. And whenever I pay respects at Madina Sharif, the doors of "Rooza-e-Rasool" (Peace Be Upon Him) are opend for me and I am honoured to have gone inside the Rooza-e-Rasool six times and offered prayers. Allah Almighty blessed me with these opportunities. So, therefore, neither anyone should doubt my Islamic integrity nor should there be any criticism on it.
The first thing I want to say is that there is no issue over religion in Pakistan. In Pakistan there are 98 per cent Muslims.
Pakistan is an ideological Islamic state. It has been created for the Muslims of this region. Islam is in our blood, it is our spirit, our life, it is our existence and no one should have any doubt about it. The question is not of being a good or bad Muslim, only Allah Almighty know this. The question is which and what Islam Pakistan should have. Is it Islam of ignorance, or that of the Taliban, which pushes us towards darkness, or Islam of old rituals. Or is it Islam of lofty ideals, strong character and the one that guides us in our duties to society and the country. Islam is more than a religion, it is a way of life and is a religion which makes us realize our duties towards people more than our duties towards Allah Almighty. Islam's guidance is towards knowledge, thinking, observation, Ijtehad and Ijma. Islam preaches peace, progress, prosperity, enlightenment and moderation. Our extremists and ritual-minded religious elements fully ignore these lofty ideals of Islam. They instead want to portray Islam as a religion which allows extremism and, by doing this, they are creating a distorted image of Islam.
In my view, the Pakistani society is divided into three parts. What happened during the last 25 years had divided the society into three parts. One part of society has illiterate and obsolete approach towards Islam, while the other is enlightened and educated which has an enlightened and progressive approach towards Islam. And the third part comprises people who are less educated, and are confused about the religion as to what Islam is. Is it a religion that teaches terrorism and extremism or the one which is of lofty ideals and advocates noble character. Unfortunately, the enlightened people who, as I said, had an enlightened and progressive approach to Islam, left the task of teaching Islam to those obscurantist and illiterate segment. The same pattern prevailed in the last 50 years and enlightened people, instead of taking the responsibility of teaching people about the true essence of Islam, and show them the right path and promote righteous virtues of Islam, left it to the obscurantist elements. The people, therefore, were unable to get proper guidance about Islam. This is our duty to free Islam from the shackles of these ignorant people and take it to its real essence. And it is also necessary because I think that these elements, whom I called illiterate and obscurantist, always failed to catch up with the time.
I would now like to take you back in the history. In 1857, the Muslims started Independence Struggle but they unfortunately suffered defeat. After some time Sir Syed Ahmed Khan appeared on the scene and started the Aligarh Movement and founded the Aligarh University. He asked the people to acquire modern knowledge and education and learn English from the Englishmen. A verdict was issued against him and the same people called him infidel. The history is witness that the same Aligarh University and the same people who were educated there, started Pakistan Movement. The same people founded Muslim League in 1906, launched the Pakistan Movement in 1940 and created Pakistan. Besides, when the printing press was introduced in the sub- continent, these very illiterate elements opposed the printing press and so much so they hinted at death penalty even for those owners of the printing press where the Holy Quran was being printed. These people were always behind the time. Then again in 1940, when the Pakistan Movement was launched under Quaid-e-Azam's leadership and in the light of the philosophy of Allama Iqbal, these very elements issued "fatwa" against Allama Iqbal and declared Quaid-e-Azam, an infidel. Pakistan came into being in 1947. These very people were against the creation of Pakistan. Then in 1948, Kashmir Freedom struggle was started and I want to tell you that their leadership had declared that anybody who will take part in Jihad will die a disgraceful death. These are their words. Unfortunately we could not keep Pakistan united and Bangladesh came into being in 1971. In 1973, Pakistani leadership asked Sheikh Mujeebur Rehman that if he comes to Pakistan, it will recognize Bangladesh.
In my view, it was a right step but these elements started "Bangladesh Namanzoor" (No to Bangladesh) movement. Now the very same people are opposing our endevours to resolve all our disputes with India peacefully. They are opposed to it and say they want to take the course of Jihad and the also want to wage Jihad everywhere in the world. So, I want to tell you that these are the people who are behind time. Their decisions are always wrong. And if they are allowed to prevail at this time, Pakistan which is forging ahead will again lag behind.
My dear Pakistani Muslim brothers and sisters!
It is my request that you extend your full support to me and lend me a hand in improving the society, to protect it from extremist and terrorist elements. Support me and strengthen me and do not fall into the trap of extremists who are damaging the country and will continue to do so. They are bringing Pakistanis into trouble. They are bringing bad name to Islam and creating hatred and disruption in the society. Reject them and do not support them.
The local bodies polls are about to be held, where you are going to vote. It is my request to you not to vote at all for obscurantist extremists. You vote for those who are progressive, who want to take Pakistan towards prosperity and development.
Now I would like to talk about administrative measures which are important to rid the society from extremism and to take Pakistan towards peace, solidarity and brotherhood. The government has decided about these measures. The law enforcing and intelligence agencies have been directed to ensure that the banned organizations cannot operate under any name or garb. Strict action would be taken against their leaders if anyone violates. Strict action will also be taken against those possessing illegal weapons or displaying those. Similarly strict action would be taken against production, sale, possession and distribution of all hate material in the form of newspapers, handbills, magazines, pamphlets, audio video cassettes and which can lead towards violence. The extremist or banned organizations do not have any right to collect donations and whosoever does so, will face strict action. No sermons preaching hatred would be allowed from the mosques, which is a sacred place. Stern action will be taken against any Khatib who does so. All schools and Madaris which have not yet been registered must get registered by December this year. I have been saying this for the past three years and I request them for the last time to support me on this issue.
My objective is that you should give your children religious and formal education so that they get better than others. They will be given scholarships and we will teach them in good educational institutions. If they desire to join any profession in Pakistan, like the army, the banks, medicine or any other field, then they could easily go that way. I have not said here anything which endangers Islam (Naouzobillah). You lend me a hand, and accept what I say. I hope that you will get your Madaris registered in the special cell set up for this purpose and give us a chance to help you, so that the condition of the Madaris improves and the future of your children is bright.
In the end my Pakistani brothers and sisters, today I seek your support for Pakistan and the real Islam. Rise and wage a jihad against extremism, rise and wage a jihad against those who are creating strife and hatred in the society, be proud of Pakistan and have faith in its bright future.
Tomorrow is Friday, pray to Allah Almighty to help us get rid of extremists and to guide us towards the real enlightened Islam. Pakistan Paindabad.