President Musharraf's Address to the People
Last Saturday, Pakistan''s President / General Pervez Musharraf
gave a speech to his countrymen that is still being analyzed,
backwards and forwards, not just by his own people and his
neighbor, India, but by leaders around the world.
There continues to be no greater "hot spot" than India and
Pakistan''s struggle over Kashmir. I have recently written about
this in this space (see archives), but I want to spend some time on
Musharraf''s lengthy discussion of the struggle against extremism
within his own border. He deserves a ton of credit for showing
real guts in this extraordinary performance and as U.S. Senator
Joseph Lieberman noted the other day, "President Musharraf''s
principled and historic statement... should serve as an example
for other allies of ours in places like Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.
Let''s hope it does."
Unless otherwise noted, following are Musharraf''s exact
words. I am covering about one-third of his rather lengthy
As you would remember, ever since I assumed office, I launched
a campaign to rid the society of extremism, violence and
terrorism and strived to project Islam in its true perspective. In
my first speech on October 17, 1999, I had said and I quote;
"Islam teaches tolerance, not hatred; universal brotherhood, not
enmity; peace, and not violence. I have a great respect for the
Ulema (religious men of learning) and expect them to come
forward and present Islam in its true light. I urge them to curb
elements which are exploiting religion for vested interests and
bringing a bad name to our faith."
After this, I initiated a number of steps in this regard. First, in
the year 2000, I started interacting with the Taliban and
counseled them to inculcate tolerance and bring moderation in
their ways. I also told them that those terrorists who were
involved in terrorist acts in Pakistan and seeking refuge in
Afghanistan should be returned to us. Unfortunately, we did not
[Musharraf then went into some detail on steps taken against
...I am explaining all this to you in great detail only because of
the fact that the campaign against extremism undertaken by us
from the very beginning is in our own national interest. We are
not doing this under advice or pressure from anyone.
Rather, we are conscious that it is in our national interest. We
are conscious that we need to rid society of extremism and this is
being done right from the beginning.
...By the grace of God Almighty our decision was absolutely
correct. Our intentions were noble and God Almighty helped us.
I am happy to say that the vast majority of Pakistanis stood by
this decision and supported our decision. I am proud of the
realistic decision of our nation. What really pains me is that
some religious extremist parties and groups opposed this
decision. What hurts more was that their opposition was not
based on principles. At a critical juncture in our history, they
preferred their personal and party interests over national
They tried their utmost to mislead the nation, took out
processions and resorted to agitation. But their entire efforts
failed. The people of Pakistan frustrated their designs. As I have
said, I am proud of the people of Pakistan who support correct
decisions and do not pay heed to those who try to mislead them.
I have interacted with the religious scholars on a number of
occasions and exchanged views with them. I am happy to say
that our discussions have been very fruitful. A majority of them
are blessed with wisdom and vision and they do not mix religion
Some extremists, who were engaged in protests, are people who
try to monopolize and attempt to propagate their own brand of
They think as if others are not Muslims. These are the people
who considered the Taliban to be a symbol of Islam and that the
Taliban were bringing Islamic renaissance or were practicing the
purest form of Islam. They behaved as if the Northern Alliance,
against whom the Taliban were fighting, were non-Muslims!
Whereas, in fact, both were Muslims and believers. These
extremists were those people who do not talk of "Haqooqul
Ibad" (obligations towards fellow human beings). They do not
talk of these obligations because practicing them demands self-
sacrifice. How will they justify their Pajeros and expensive
vehicles? I want to ask these extremists as to who was
responsible for misleading thousands of Pakistanis to their
massacre in Afghanistan? These misled people were let down by
the very people in whose support they had gone. All of us
should learn a lesson from this. We must remember that we are
Pakistanis. Pakistan is our identity, our motherland.
We will be aliens outside Pakistan and be treated as aliens.
Pakistan is our land. It is our soil. If we forsake it, we will face
difficulties. This lesson we must learn.
Sectarian terrorism has been going on for years.
Everyone of us is fed up of it. It is becoming unbearable. Our
peace-loving people are keen to get rid of the Kalashnikov and
weapon culture. Every one is sick of it. It was because of this
that we banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Muhammad.
[The two groups on the U.S. list.] Yet little improvement
occurred. The day of reckoning has come.
Do we want Pakistan to become a theocratic state? Do we
believe that religious education alone is enough for governance
or do we want Pakistan to emerge as a progressive and dynamic
Islamic welfare state? The verdict of the masses is in favor of a
progressive Islamic state. This decision, based on the teaching of
the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) and in line with the
teachings of Quaid-e-Azam and Allama Iqbal (philosophers) will
put Pakistan on the path of progress and prosperity.
Let us honestly analyze what the few religious extremists have
attempted to do with Pakistan and Islam.
First, with regard to Afghanistan, they indulged in agitational
activities. Look at the damage it has caused! Pakistan''s
international image was tarnished and we were projected by the
international media as ignorant and backward. Our economy
suffered. A number of export orders already placed with
Pakistani industry were cancelled and no new orders
materialized. This led to closure of some factories and
unemployment. The poor daily wage earners lost their
livelihood. Extremists also formed a Pakistan-Afghanistan
Defense Council! Apart from damaging Pakistan, they had
negative thinking and had no idea of anything good for
Afghanistan. Did they ever think of bringing about peace to
Afghanistan through reconciliation among the Taliban and
Northern Alliance? Did they counsel tolerance to them? Did
they ever think of collecting funds for the welfare, rehabilitation
and reconstruction of the war-ravaged Afghanistan, or to mitigate
sufferings of the poor Afghan people? Did they think of a
solution to the hunger, poverty and destruction in Afghanistan?
To my knowledge, only Maulana Abdul Sattar Edhi, God bless
him, and some foreign NGOs and the UN organizations were
providing the Afghans with food and medicines.
These extremists did nothing except contributing to bloodshed in
Afghanistan. I ask of them, whether they know anything other
then disruption and sowing seeds of hatred? Does Islam preach
Now, let us see their activity outside Afghanistan.
They initiated sectarian feuds.
Sects and different schools of thought in Islam have existed since
(the beginning). There is nothing wrong with intellectual
differences flowing from freedom of thought as long as such
differences remain confined to intellectual debates. Look at what
this extremist minority is doing? They are indulging in
fratricidal killings. There is no tolerance among them.
Quaid-e-Azam declared that Pakistan belonged to followers of
all religions; that every one would be treated equally. However,
what to speak of other religions, Muslims have started killing
I think, these people have declared more Muslims as Kafirs
(infidels) than motivating the non-Muslims to embrace Islam.
Look at the damaged they have caused.
They have murdered a number of our highly qualified doctors,
engineers, civil servants and teachers who were pillars of our
society. Who has suffered? The families of the dead, no doubt.
But a greater loss was inflicted on Pakistan because, as I said, we
lost the pillars of our society. These extremists did not stop here.
They started killing other innocent people in mosques and places
Today, people are scared of entering these sacred places of
worship. It is a matter of shame that police have to be posted
outside for their protection. We claim Islam as Deen or a
complete way of life.
Is this the way of life that Islam teaches us? That we fight
amongst ourselves and feel scared of fellow Muslims, scared of
visiting our places of worship where police have to be deputed
outside for protection? Mosques are being misused for
propagating and inciting hatred against each other''s sect and
beliefs and against the Government, too.
[Musharraf then went into great detail on the religious schools,
the Madrassas, as well as Kashmir, both of which I have covered
in prior discussions. 7 pages later (!), the president / general
My brothers & sisters, Pakistan is an Islamic Republic. There
are 98 percent Muslims living in this country. We should live
like brothers and form an example for the rest of the Islamic
(world). We should strive to emerge as a responsible and
progressive member of the comity of nations.
We have to make Pakistan into a powerful and strong country.
We have resources and potential. We are capable of meeting
external danger. We have to safeguard ourselves against internal
dangers. I have always been saying that internal strife is eating
us like termites. Don''t forget that Pakistan is the citadel of Islam
and if we want to serve Islam well we will first have to make
Pakistan strong and powerful.
There is a race for progress among all nations.
We cannot achieve progress through a policy of confrontation
and feuds. We can achieve progress through human resource
development, mental enlightenment, high moral character and
technological development. I appeal to all my countrymen to
rise to the occasion. We should get rid of intolerance and hatred
and instead promote tolerance and harmony.
May God guide us to act upon the true teachings of Islam. May
He help us to follow the Quaid-e-Azam''s motto: "Unity, Faith
and Discipline." This should always be remembered. We will
be a non-entity without unity.
And I would again like to recite a couplet from Allama Iqbal.
Amongst the community
Do individuals survive; not alone;
Like waves that exist in rivers
And out of water are not known.
[Source for the translation: New York Times]