Pervez Musharraf, President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

Pakistan: Meeting the Challenge of Peace and Development

September 16, 2005 12:45 PM


by Pervez Musharraf

President Pervez Musharraf: Thank you very much. Mr. (inaudible), Mr. Lee
Bollinger, President of the University. Ms. Lisa Anderson, the dean of the
university, faculty members, students, ladies and gentlemen, it is indeed a unique
privilege for me to be addressing a gathering of students, of faculty, of Columbia
University. It is seldom that I have addressed such a gathering outside Pakistan.
Therefore, talking to the youth outside my country, talking to the youth anywhere
in the world, especially outside the country, is my unique privilege. I know also
that it is for a privilege for me, because I know that Columbia University
especially focuses on developments on South Asia and therefore, this is an ideal
environment to be talking of Pakistan and of South Asia.

And since the world is in such turmoil, and so many developments taking place
around the world, and Pakistan happening to be in the focal point or the
epicenter of all that is happening, it is fitness of things that I talk to such a cross
section of people who want to learn and understand developments in our region
and in the world indeed. And I'm extremely glad that I've been told that students
from South Asia here, there is a faculty here from South Asia, therefore I think I
need to also address them on the realities of their respective countries back
home. Because I think when they leave the shores of their own countries, they
are more focused on their own country; they are more interested in whatever is
happening in their country.

What I intend doing really is to give you a fell of Pakistan. I'll give you the
Pakistan story, because I know that through this story and what we are we doing
in Pakistan, domestically, and regionally, you will also get a feel of the
international perspective of various important issues taking place around the
world. So without wasting more time on semantics, let me get to the subject.
Because time is limited and I would also like to go through a question and
answer session also with you. The first point that I want to make is that Pakistan
is a misunderstood country. Pakistan is a victim of misperceptions abroad and
these misperceptions are not the realities within our country.

And as we go ahead, I will clarify all this. Pakistan today is considered an
extremist society. An intolerant society. I think it is far from it. The vast majority of
people of Pakistan are moderate. However, within that, there are, there is a small
minority of extremists. Now I would like to first of all clarify or highlight the ill
historical background or whatever Pakistan suffered in a very, very concise and
brief way, for you to understand where he stand today and where we'll be in the
past. The cut point that I have in mind is 1979. Before 1979, Pakistan was a very
peaceful and a very harmonious place.

But then, come 1979 and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, we started a Jihad
against the Soviet invasion that was the days of the Cold War. And we started,
we fought the Cold War in Afghanistan. It was fought between Soviet Union and
the West, being led by the United States. But since geographically, Pakistan was
so placed, Pakistan became the lead role to take that (inaudible), the Jihad, and I
am repeating the word Jihad again Soviet Union. Who fought this Jihad? Three
categories of people.

It was the people of Afghanistan, the population of Afghanistan. Secondly, it was
*Mujah Hadin, brought from all over the Muslim world. Almost every country of
the Muslim world. About 20 to 30,000 Mujah Hadin brought in. Brought in, I'm
saying. And trained and armed, equipped by the rest and by Pakistan, in the lead
role. And sent inside into Afghanistan. The third category were Taliban. Taliban
from (inaudible), off Pakistan. Trained, equipped, and sent in to fight the Soviets.
These were the three categories of people who confronted in Afghanistan.

For 10 long years, we fought and we won the Cold War. Pakistan in the lead role
and whoever fought in the Afghanistan won the Cold War for the West. The
disintegration of Soviet Union, the collapse of the Berlin Wall, are all a result of
the victory in Afghanistan. So for 10 long years, the impact of all this was on
Pakistan and Pakistan being in the lead role and the much maligned inter-service
intelligence of Pakistan in the lead role. Now come 1989, Cold War is over.
Soviet Union defeated, Soviet empire disintegrated, Berlin Wall as I said,
collapsed. Everyone left the scene and abandoned us. 20-30,000 Mujah Hadin
holed up in Afghanistan and warlords started fighting themselves, killing each
other, devastating the country.

For 12 long years until 9/11. '89 to 2001. This resulted in what. Number one, the
emergence of the Taliban in 1995 or 96. Secondly, the Mujah Hadin, the 20-
30,000 holed up Mujah Hadin. Coalescing into Al Qaeda and changing their
focus elsewhere in the world and also, ladies and gentlemen, these people, the
Al Qaeda, all these Mujah Hadin shifting into Pakistan into our mountains and our
cities. To the comfort of our mountains and our cities, because Afghanistan was
ravaged and together with them came four million refugees into Pakistan. Four
million of refugees into Pakistan.

All this happened, cutting it short, this went on for 12 long years, until 9/11 and
then 9/11, everything, hell was let loose after the terrible terrorist attack in New
York on the World Trade Center and the world perspective changed. Pakistan
sided with the coalition to fight terrorism and I'll come to whatever happened
beyond that later. So for 26 years, 1979-2005, we have war militancy,
devastation in Afghanistan with its fallout on Pakistan. As if there were not
enough, in 1989, the freedom fight of Kashmir started. For 16 years now, it is
going on. It has its direct impact on Pakistan again.

So that is what we have faced in the region, then within Pakistan, from 1989
onwards, we had a Democratic civil government after a military leader died in an
air crash. And in these 11 years, from 1988 to 1999, when I came on the scene,
the democracy in Pakistan ran in a way that four prime ministers changed, three
presidents changed. The Supreme Court was also assaulted, and the nation
went down to almost being declared a failed state and a defaulted state. I appear
on the scene in 1999 in this condition. With all its fallout, on the domestic
environment of Pakistan, whatever happened in Afghanistan and in Kashmir?

And also, the mishandling of democratic structure and institutions within
Pakistan. In six years, from 1999 to 2005, Pakistan today, ladies and gentlemen,
is being quoted as a model, as an example, by the international finance, as a
model and an example for the third world of turnaround. We have turned the
nation around. The nation today stands on the rise. Performing well in every
scepter and segment of the society and that is the story of Pakistan that I will
now relate to you. And within this, you'll know, what impact that is having on the
region. Domestically on the region, and internationally. How did this happen?
This is what the Pakistan story is.

And let me get more in that. First and foremost, my primary focus was to revive
the economy of Pakistan. Nothing functions unless the economy of a nation is
stable. So we analyzed the problem and I saw very briefly, for any student of
economics, who may be sitting around, I am no economist, so I can't teach you,
so I won't dwell into too much of the technicalities of it. But as a layman, as a
soldier, whatever I understand of economics, I'll tell you very briefly. What we
managed. How did we turn a defaulted and a failed state into an 8.4 percent
GDP growth. We quite clearly saw that the fiscal deficit, which was in double
figures in some years, otherwise it was 8 percent when we took over, had to be
checked and controlled when we took over.

And external balance of payment, which was in deficit by a large amount and we
had to go around borrowing at high interest rates from the world's international
finance institution had to be turned around. And we saw that as far as the fiscal
deficit, we can turn it around if we control our expenditures on the establishment,
which were 33 percent of our expenditures, on the defense, which was 17
percent of our budget, and also on the hemorrhaging of all the public sector
institutions. We controlled all of them. We froze the defense budget, we reduced
establishment costs. We almost eliminated the hemorrhaging in the public sector
institutions. And then, we increased the earning by increasing the revenue
generation in Pakistan through measures which were not very popular, by
documenting the economy of Pakistan.

Then, on the balance of payment, the deficit that we suffered, we turned it into a
surplus. In three or four years, in four years. That is by reducing the major
expenditure, which was on debt servicing. We reduced our debts. We asked for
debt relief, debt retirement and we managed that, so we reduced by our
expenditure. We increased our earnings, through increasing our exports. Exports
have increased by 110 percents. Also remittances from Pakistanis abroad, which
increased by about 400 percent and also, the last element in increasing our
earnings, was the foreign direct investment, which increased by about 500

So this was the turnaround of the economy which we managed in those six
years. As a result of which, ladies and gentlemen, we managed in a way that
today our economy is revived. All macro economic indicators are extremely
positive. The GDP is growing by 8.4 percent. Our foreign exchange reserves are
equal to about 11 months of imports. Our debt, our debt has reduced and that
should be seen from, not from absolute numbers, but debt should be seen from
debt to GDP ratio. Debt to GDP ratio, which stood at about 101 percent, today is
down to 60 percent, which I think is the bottom line also for the European Union.
So I would say the debt to GDP ratio is excellent, it's very healthy. And therefore,
today our credit rating has risen by a number of slots internationally.

So this is the story of our economy, very, very briefly. The only lesson that I want
to derive from it is, how did we manage this? Without going into details, it's
because we strategize everything. In the past, there was no strategy, there was
no end objective to be seen. Where are we headed and what are the moralities
of reaching that objective? So the most important thing that I would like to convey
is to strategize everything that you want to do. Otherwise, you are a rudderless
ship roaming around in high seas without any end objective in sight. That is what
we managed. We strategize and then we worked out the morality of how to reach
that strategic objective. That is why we succeeded. Now, the other objective that
I had in mind. Having stabilized the economy, we need to transfer this benefit to
the people of Pakistan.

That is the real core of development and therefore, I concentrated on poverty
alleviation and reduction in unemployment. And again, we strategize here to see
where lies poverty. Poverty lay in the rural areas, 70 percent of the population
and in the urban areas where there were educated unemployed and uneducated
unemployed. So our development focus was entirely based on, we were killing
two birds with one stone. By doing an economic revival, at the same time
addressing poverty. In other words, when we spoke of poverty in rural areas, we
thought agriculture needs to be concentrated on. And we took steps to enhance
the agriculture. And (inaudible) industry. When we speak of poverty in the cities
of employed, educated and unemployed, we thought of telecommunication and
information technology.

When we thought of uneducated unemployed, we thought of labor through
industrialization and we thought of building and construction to be the labor-
intensive area to concentrate on. We did all that and today, ladies and
gentlemen, let me very proudly say that poverty and unemployment for the first
time in Pakistani, Pakistan has declined. And it's an all around development in
each sector of Pakistan. In agriculture, there is an agriculture boom in the cash
crops of Pakistan. There's a record high crops in Pakistan. Due to wish, 150
billion rupees have gone to the rural economy. Our industry is booming. It grew
by 18.3 percent the year before and 14 and a half percent last year.

All the engineering sector, each and every element, of the industry, industries
functioning on 100 percent capacity. And new industries, not dozens, but
hundreds of new units coming up in Pakistan, creating jobs for the unemployed,
uneducated, and also the educated. Telecommunication sector is booming in
Pakistan. If I were to just give you one feel in the mobile telephone, although it's
booming in WLL, Wireless Local Loop, and the fixed line. But just to give you a
feel of the mobile telephone. Two years back, we had only 600,000 telephones in
Pakistan. Today we have 14 and a half million and by 2007 and 2008, the target
is 35 million. That is the kind of boom that is taking place in telecommunication
sector. So also in information technology, there is a boom going on and there are
call centers and software houses being opened all over Pakistan.

There is a building and construction boom going on also. There is hardly skilled
labor available. So therefore, having achieved all this, my concentration now
today, domestically, for the people of Pakistan, is to focus on certain areas
personally with my personal involvement to insure that the policies formulated on
top are implemented on the bottom. And the areas I'm concentrating on are really
providing electricity to every village of Pakistan and we have strategized by 2007,
every village will be lighted, providing safe drinking water to every individual of
Pakistan and we hopefully will manage it by 2007. The millennium development
goal in the United Nations is 2015 and also, we are looking at provision of gas,
especially in remote areas to control de-forestation and then is the area of health
and education.

In education, Pakistan is very poor. My personal involvement will be there in
these social sector projects. And we have strategized again, and organized
ourselves in a manner that I personally will affect the results being achieved at
the grassroots level. So therefore, ladies and gentlemen, with the governance
now, we are committed to sustain this rapid growth, economic growth, and to
sustain this area of reduction in poverty and reduction in unemployment in
Pakistan. Now, what is the obstacle in front of Pakistan? The obstacle is
terrorism. Fighting terrorism and extremism. We are again strategized and this
now, affects internationally and regionally, other than having effects domestically.

We believe that this issue has two facets: one is terrorism and the other is
extremism. It should never, never be mixed. They are two separate things. While
terrorism can be confronted, has to be confronted with force and militarily,
extremism is a battle for the hearts and minds of people. It has to be handled
with care through a strategy where you affect the hearts and minds of people.
We have evolved, we have fought terrorism in our cities and in our mountains, to
the extent, that today, we arrested about 600-700 Al Qaeda members from our
cities and we feel that our cities are almost clean of terrorists. Although, yes,
some may be there, but they are not active anymore.

In the mountains, we have attacked their sanctuaries, and the sanctuaries now
are under military control. And all Al Qaeda or Taliban are on the run in the
mountains. We have broken their vertical and horizontal communication linkages.
And when you do that in military terms, you destroy that force of its homogeneity.
So we have destroyed the homogeneity of the Al Qaeda in Pakistan. And they're
on the run now, and we're on the winning side. And we also contribute towards
arresting or checking any infiltration of Al Qaeda or Taliban onto (inaudible) to
create destabilization inside Afghanistan. That is our contribution to stability of
U.S. forces, of coalition forces, and Afghanistan, within Afghanistan. And we are
doing it very effectively.

Through a coordinated effort between U.S. forces and Pakistan forces. On the
border, there is an intelligence coordination, complete intelligence coordination,
at the strategic and tactical levels, and also operational coordination, where they
are acting, we provide the anvil. And if the hammer is on this side, they provide
the anvil on the other side. So it's a hammer and anvil effect that we create when
we operate against Al Qaeda in the mountains there, on the border. So that
much for what we are doing against terrorism and extremism. As far as
extremism is concerned, we have involved a six point, short term and long term
strategy. The short term strategy, I won't go into the details for saving time, if
anyone has a question, I could answer, but we have strategized on how to deal
with extremism holistically at the root of the problem.

Understanding the problem and then executing a corrective implementation short
term and long term strategy, that is what we've done. Now let's come to, this is
internal. I've given you a rough picture of what we're doing domestically in
Pakistan. In the economy, in fighting terrorism and extremism, for doing good for
the people of Pakistan. Now, we need a very safe, peaceful environment to do all
this. To sustain whatever growth we are having. Therefore, we have decided,
other than contributing to the stability in Afghanistan, we have to have peace
within there. Therefore, we have launched a process of (inaudible) with India. In
that, we have decided to launch a two-pronged effort.

One is the confidence building measures, between India and Pakistan, and the
other is conflict resolution effort. There are, one of the major issues of the
Kashmir dispute, but other than that, there are four or five other small disputes
which need to be resolved to bring harmony. All that I would like to say here is
that we are proceeding well. I am very optimistic that while the confidence
building measures are going very well, the conflict resolution also is proceeding
in a manner that leaves the leadership is resolved and committed to move the
process forward and come to an ultimate conclusion. I've done soldiering enough
not to need order.

Also, that within the region of Afghanistan, we are supporting the bond process
within India we are trying to normalize. Internationally, we see the Palestinian
dispute as the core of the problem in the world. Core of extremism and terrorism
in the world. Therefore, we believe that this dispute has to be resolved. Failure is
no more an option. And therefore, we thought that maybe even Pakistan could
put its weight or contribute in whatever form. Two worlds facilitating of peace to
be arrived in the Middle East. With this spirit, tomorrow, for the first time, any
leader of Pakistan or any leader of the Muslim world, is going to address the
United States Jewish Congress here tomorrow evening. I'm going to do that.

And also the foreign issue of Pakistan and Israel (inaudible) and Turkey, for the
first time, it was taboo in Pakistan in the past. We have taken this bold step,
because we believe that the environment is right. We believe that Israel took a
step of vacating the Gaza Strip and also two towns on the West Bank. Therefore,
Pakistan could take a step forward towards normalizing relations with Israel.
Having said that, we are very clear that we cannot establish diplomatic relations
or recognize Israel till we are very sure that they have moved forward towards
creation of a Palestinian state. And therefore we are very clear that this is a step
by step approach. While they keep moving forward towards peace in the Middle
East and creation of a Palestinian state, Pakistan will keep taking steps forward.

So that is the international scenario. Now having said all this, what are the
world's major concerns? Well, there are four major concerns of the world today.
Number one is terrorism and extremism; number two, nuclear proliferation;
number three, human rights; and number four, democracy. Pakistan happens to
be the epicenter in all four of these. Now as far if you take each one of these,
maybe you're talking of terrorism, I don't have to explain, I have told you what
we've done. We've been in the lead role and we are the only country who have
really strategized what is terrorism, what is extremism, how to deal with it. In the
short term, in the long term, internationally, regionally, and domestically. I haven't
touched on the strategy of enlightened moderation that we have (inaudible) for
the world and the Islamic world.

That is the other aspect, the facet of dealing with extremism and terrorism and
bringing harmony to the world. For shortage of time, I'll skip that. The other issue
is nuclear proliferation. Pakistan unfortunately came into the limelight. I would like
to clarify that it is not the government of Pakistan, not Pakistan as a state that
proliferated it. It was one individual scientist of Pakistan who did proliferate. And
this was because our nuclear program was top secret and therefore, total
autonomy was given to this individual for his own security, security of the science
organizations, and the financials, were totally himself, the individual himself was
handling. Therefore, he could proliferate and nobody knew. And I know that
nobody knew. However, we have taken action against (inaudible) and we have
now brought all our nuclear assets under very, very strong custodial control.

Today, Pakistan has established a control system on its development and
holding of its strategic assets, which are second to nobody in the world. We
studied each and every example of the world and we have implemented, in
Pakistan, the best practices of the world. On human rights, I don't want to go into
the details, but I just want to say that we, I, a man in uniform, although I'm much
maligned being anti-democratic, but I'm the, I'm a real believer in democracy. I
have allowed freedom of speech and expression in Pakistan by opening the
television by the media. Liberating the media. The print and electronic media.

It's totally liberated today in Pakistan. We have empowered the power of the
people of Pakistan by introducing a new local government system. We have
empowered the women of Pakistan. Taking into cognizance, the fact that there is
violence against women, which is a universal, or global malaise, but within
Pakistan, whatever we could do, we are addressing the issue of violence against
women, we are addressing the issue of gender equality and we have empowered
the women to give destiny to their own hands. Today, there are 30,000 women
sitting at political authority at various tiers of national, of the government. In our
national assembly, 23 percent are women. At the local level, 32 percent are
women with six seats, so that is what we have done. We have mainstreamed the
minorities of Pakistan in the political system. And also, we have introduced
sustainable democracy in Pakistan in the hope that never should democracy in
the future be derailed in Pakistan.

We have taken measure to insure that for the future. So this is the Pakistan story
and also together with that, because of whatever you've done, we today have a
station in the world. We are on the world map, where we never were in the past.
If anyone spoke of Pakistan, people didn't know what is Pakistan and where is
Pakistan. Today everyone knows where is Pakistan because there is a lot of
interest involved there in all aspects. And also, we enjoy a position in the Muslim
world. Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, Pakistan today is on the forward march
domestically, regionally, in the Islamic world, and in the community of nations in
the world. In conclusion, let me say that Pakistan is determined to move forward
as a very progressive, dynamic, moderate, Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

That is what our determination is. And we want to continue on that line so that we
can contribute to the world, towards peace and harmony in the world, and
towards development and progress of humankind. Alleviation of poverty,
alleviation of lack of education, lack of health facilities, contributing toward the
United Nation millennium development goals. So therefore, it's a very big
(inaudible) in Pakistan. So therefore, all that I can say is, so therefore, help us,
God. Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.

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