Pakistan's President Musharraf
I have written in other parts of this site that Pakistan President
Musharraf doesn''t have a reputation for being a real intellectual,
but you cannot doubt his bravery in the face of what will
inevitably be staunch opposition to his rule once the U.S.
military begins its action in Afghanistan.
Last September 19 Musharraf gave his speech to the Pakistani
people. While the official transcript picks it up after he has
lobbed some very inflammatory words towards Israel and India,
it is nonetheless enlightening. You''ll quickly see that the
president didn''t have access to speechwriters like President Bush
had when Bush gave his resounding call to arms the following
night. To be fair, however, you also have to picture the audience
Musharraf is talking to. They don''t have quite the level of
sophistication that most in the West have, when it comes to the
world around them, and they have been brainwashed for decades,
depending on who was in power. The speech may seem long,
but you can just skim it. I wanted to print what was available,
verbatim, so you could get a sense of the man and his mission.
We are dealing with new nations and unfamiliar leaders these
days. Here now, President Musharraf:
America is asking for our support in three main specific areas.
And I''m going to explain to you what they want - intelligence
and information exchange. And the second thing is, they want to
use our airspace. And the third thing they want from us: they
want logistic support.
And at this time I want to tell you that until this moment, at this
moment, they haven''t got any plan ready, in action, or any
details; that they haven''t provided us with any detailed plan or
proposal. But I can tell you this: that whatever America wants,
they''ve got the support of the United Nations and the General
Assembly, a resolution. They''ve got the support of the United
Nations, and quite a few Islamic countries have given their
support as well.
Now this is the general situation.
Now I want to tell you what I''m thinking. Pakistan has been
very, very special since 1947. This time is very important for us.
The world''s eyes are upon us. What happens now in Pakistan
has international repercussions. If we make any wrong move at
this time, this will have huge repercussions.
We have to think very carefully. That''s why we have to think
and plan, because whatever we do will have far-reaching
Our whole country could be put into danger if we made the
wrong move. What we are most worried about could be in
danger. The thing that concerns us most, the Kashmiri problem,
could be endangered if we make the wrong decisions now.
That''s why we have a huge responsibility. And we have to make
some very difficult decisions.
I''ve been consulting with my people, with my service chiefs,
with my corps commanders, with the national Security Council
and with the cabinet. I''ve been having long talks. And then after
this, I gave a news conference. I talked to the ulamas (sic?), with
the politicians, with the intellectuals, and tomorrow I''m going to
meet with the tribal chiefs, insha''Allah.
I''m thinking really hard and planning, just as I did before I went
to Agra, and I think that opinion is divided in the country.
But we have a huge responsibility. Some people, many people,
people from the Jamaa-i-Islami, they are not necessarily thinking
the same way as I do. Some people, some countries have very
happily offered their military facilities to America.
They have happily offered all their resources, and they are happy
for Pakistan to be declared a terrorist state. [Ed. This is
obviously a confusing passage.] And India has been one of those
countries. And of course, India doesn''t have any border with
Afghanistan, so it''s quite surprising that all these countries are
getting together and having these talks.
I think that if anything happens in - I think that it''s quite possible
that an anti-Pakistan government could come up. And it''s sad to
note that the whole world is talking about this issue. And in my
country, where we were talking and trying to do peace and
cooperation - and all these countries are getting together and
trying to spoil the reputation of Pakistan and Islam. And there''s
a lot of anti-Pakistani propaganda going on. And I want to say to
these countries, in English: Lay off!
Pakistan''s army and every Pakistani will defend Pakistan with
everything she''s got - her strategic assets. And for her safety,
every Pakistani is willing to give his life. I don''t want anybody
to be in any doubt about that. At this point, the whole air force is
on high alert and everybody''s on a do-or-die mission.
My people, at this time, a wrong decision could destroy the
Our critical concerns are these. I think there are four: first of all,
the safety of the country. Defense of the country from any
external threats; secondly, the peace and security of our country,
that I was trying to work on; the third thing is the nuclear issue;
and the fourth thing is the Kashmir cause. These four things are
our most important concerns. And any wrong decision could
disturb all these concerns of ours.
In taking the decision, we have to keep these four objectives in
front of us all the time. In making the decision, we have to think
carefully. And this decision must be taken with Islam kept in
mind. And whatever we''re doing now is in keeping with Islam
and the teachings of Islam. And I want to tell you this: where the
country''s safety is concerned, we have to think very carefully.
At this time, we''re all thinking and very alert. My first response
was emotional. But without proper thought and planning, foolish
decisions can happen. Emotion doesn''t get us anywhere.
If we think carefully, God will be on our side. We have to save
ourselves from destruction. We have to protect our country.
Pakistan comes first. Everything else is secondary.
Some ulamas and religious leaders are talking a lot. I want to tell
them something about Islam. In the cause of Islam pilgrimages
were made and enemies made friends many, many years ago.
And this was at the birth of Islam, and treaties were made. And
these treaties were forged over years, and they were done
between leaders of different countries. Talks went on. And
peace treaties were made between Muslims of different countries
and leaders of different countries, and it took a long time.
After six years, people looked around and they saw that Islam
was getting stronger. And when people saw enemies getting
together, they made a new war pact. I want to talk to you about
that pact. At the end of all the negotiations, people were talking,
and their holy writings were written.
Some people were asking that the new war pact be cut up. This
happened, and then there was a tragedy. And then they talked
amongst each other. They said - they talked about the rights and
wrongs of signing such a treaty. And the people said, the leaders
said that you should sign such a treaty because you''ll see in the
future that Islam will be protected.
Because there was that no-war pact at that time discussed, so
after that, Islam got strengthened.
With peace and negotiations and thought, the way for the future
becomes clear. My people, at the moment, we have to take a
strategic decision. It''s not a question of the weaknesses and
strengths of the imams, the leaders, the religious leaders. I have
fought in the wars. I have seen great battle, and I didn''t feel fear.
But now I don''t want us to get hurt, and I don''t want us to get
wounded. But if we have a choice, the saying goes that it is
always better to take the one - the choice of least risk. So we
have to take the thing that''s best for Pakistan.
But I am worried about Afghanistan and the Taliban. I have
done everything for Afghanistan and the Taliban. When the
whole world is talking against them, I have spoken to each of the
world''s leaders, at least 20, 30 of the world''s leaders. To each of
them, I used to talk in favor of the Taliban. I said, but please
don''t put sanctions on the Taliban; we should engage in dialogue
with the Taliban.
And I tried so hard I even talked to President Clinton, even to the
Chinese leaders and all the other countries that I could. I really
worked hard for the Taliban. But I''m very sad to say that no
friend of mine, no country listened to me.
And even now, even in this tragedy, even now I am trying to
negotiate. I sent the director general of the ISI, the head of
intelligence, with a personal letter. I sent him to the leader of the
Taliban, Mullah Omar (Ed. fyi, Omar never finished "Quranic"
school. He''s really not technically a "mullah," but he receives
the title out of respect), just the day before yesterday. And I told
him of our concerns. I tried very hard. And I was really hoping
that with this letter and this message, that something would come
out of it whereby Afghanistan and Taliban wouldn''t get hurt,
and, insha''Allah, with the grace of God, I hope that will happen.
And at this point, I''m telling America that whatever they do,
whatever their worries are, that they must show balance and
reason. And also, and even we are asking for evidence about
Osama bin Laden.
But I want to ask this: That how can I save the Taliban and
Afghanistan, how can I stop them from being hurt or letting them
be hurt less? Do I do it by separating Pakistan out or by working
with Afghanistan? I think it''s much better if we work with
Afghanistan because we can influence Afghanistan and hope for
a better outcome.
My people, at this point, I am only worried about Pakistan. I am
Pakistan''s son and I will always defend Pakistan first. Anybody
else''s interests come next. We''re making decisions in the
interests of Pakistan. And I know the responsibilities and I know
the dangers involved.
And my main worry is the safety of Pakistan. The welfare of
Pakistan is my main concern. We want to make a decision,
which is advantageous to the country. I am aware that the vast
majority of our population is in favor of what we are deciding,
and therefore it''s a part of our duty that we should show our
unity and total support in favor of this decision. I also know that
there are some people who want to take advantage of the
situation. Their personal agendas and their party agendas are
being brought to the forefront. They''re trying to hurt the
country. There''s no reason for doing this. They are in a
minority. But they''re trying to hurt the rest of us. And I really
appeal to the whole of Pakistan that please think about unity and
common sense and common feeling. And those that want to hurt
the country, I want you to help to keep them down and don''t let
them get power.
And at this moment we don''t want to make enemies, we''ve got
to save our country. We are an Islamic state, and God is on our
side. If anything happens to Pakistan, Islam will be hurt.
My people, please trust me. The way you supported me when I
went to Agra, I didn''t let the country down when I went to Agra.
I need your support. With the grace of God, now at this moment
I will not let you down.
These are the thoughts I want to share with you, and finally I will
now take farewell. I pray that my path is made easy and that my
words are understood by all of you. Long Live Pakistan.
[Ed. Oh boy, your path, President Musharraf, is a rough one.]
Russian President Putin
On September 24, President Putin pledged military support for
Afghanistan''s opposition. Here is his speech to the Russian
After the barbaric terrorist attacks in New York and Washington
on September 11 of this year, the entire world is still living under
the impact of these tragedies. The Russian Federation has long
been fighting international terrorism, relying exclusively on its
own strength, and has more than once called on the international
community to join forces. Russia''s position has not changed.
We, of course, are ready to contribute to the fight against terror.
We believe that first of all attention must be paid to
strengthening the role of those international institutions that were
created to strengthen international security. These are the United
Nations and the UN Security Council. It is also necessary to
energetically work on perfecting the international legal base to
allow timely and efficient reaction to terrorist attacks.
As far as the planned anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan is
concerned, we define our position in the following way:
First of all, active international cooperation of intelligence
services. Russia has been providing and intends to continue to
provide information about the infrastructure and whereabouts of
international terrorists and training bases of militants.
Second, we are ready to provide the use of Russia''s airspace for
planes carrying humanitarian cargo to the area of this anti-
Third, we have coordinated this position with our allies among
the Central Asian states. They share this position and do not rule
out providing the use of their airfields.
Fourth, Russia is ready to, if necessary, take part in international
search and rescue operations.
Fifth, we are broadening cooperation with the internationally
recognized government of Afghanistan headed by Mr. Rabbani
(ed., the opposition to the Taliban) and will render additional aid
to its armed forces in the form of the supply of weapons and
Other, deeper forms of cooperation between Russia and
participants in the anti-terrorist operation are possible. The depth
and character of this cooperation will directly depend on the
general level and quality of our relations with these countries and
on mutual understanding in the sphere of fighting international
To coordinate the work on the above-mentioned issues, I have
formed a group headed by Defense Minister Sergei Borisovich
Ivanov. This group will collect and analyze new information and
also cooperate in a practicable way with the operation''s
We also believe that the events in Chechnya cannot be
considered outside the context of the fight with international
terrorism. At the same time, we understand that these events
have their own history. I concede that there are still people in
Chechnya who took up arms under the influence of false and
distorted values. Today, when the civilized world has defined its
position on the fight with terrorism, everybody must define his
position. This chance should also be given to those in Chechnya
who have not yet put down their arms.
For this reason, I invite all the participants of illegal armed
formations and those who call themselves political figures to
immediately halt all contacts with international terrorists and
their organizations. (I invite them) to contact official
representatives of the federal government within the next 72
hours to discuss the following issues: the procedure of disarming
these illegal armed formations and groups and the procedure of
their incorporation into peaceful life in Chechnya. On behalf of
the federal government, Viktor Kazantsev, the presidential envoy
in the southern federal district of which Chechnya is a part, will
be in charge of these contacts.
I would also like to take this opportunity to say a few words
about my meeting today with Muslim spiritual leaders of Russia.
This meeting was held at their initiative. They proposed
convening an international Islamic conference in Moscow under
the slogan "Islam against terror." I share their concern in
connection to the current situation in the world, and without a
doubt, they will be supported. I believe that effectively fighting
religious extremism and fanaticism, not only Islamic, but any
other form, is possible only with the active participation of the
religious communities themselves.
The End...at least the transcript I saw made it seem like this was.
Of course, Putin is looking for the West to finally lay off Russian
efforts in Chechnya. I have frequently criticized what Russia has
done here in the past with regards to obvious human rights
violations, but one also has to be a realist. The Chechen rebels
are Muslim fanatics. And they really don''t represent the
Chechen people. They are a band of mercenaries. So certainly
during this war on terrorism, the West should look the other way
as much as possible when it comes to Russia''s handling of its
own internal issues.
[Sources: Washington Post, Associated Press]
Next week, a second look at the History of Islam.