Ex- President General Pervez Musharraf was invited by India today Group for a India Today Conclave; ‘The Challenges of Change’. He addressed the audiance at a Dinner address note at Taj Palace Hotel, In New Delhi on Saturday, 7 March 2009.
Following is the Transcript of address by General Pervez Musharraf, former President of Pakistan
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Bismillah Rehman Ur Rahim. Aroon Puri Sahab, excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen. It is indeed my proud privilege to be speaking to such an august gathering. I would like to express my gratitude first of all to Aroon Purie sahab for having invited me and then giving me this opportunity to speak frankly to this august gathering. I would also like to express my gratitude to all of you for being here together and for honouring me. I would also like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the officials of Government of India for all the care that they have taken and they are taking for my security and protocol. Thank you very much ladies & gentlemen.The subject that I have been given to speak is indeed the challenge of change. I am presuming, obviously, that the challenge of change in the context of Indo-Pakistan relations and not the world. So therefore, I presume ki yeh ek apas ki baat hain, apas ki baat karni hai and we have to be very frank and forthright in this apas ki baat. The subject indeed is most apt. It is apt because it rally depicts what is happening in the world, in our region and also may I say in our respective countries and there is an urgent requirement of a change. But when we say change, I take it implies breaking the status-quo, burying the past, moving forward positively. That, to be exact, is the essence of my speech or my lecture today.
Ladies & gentlemen, I stand for peace. Peace between Indian and Pakistan, whether you believe it or not, irrespective of all the cover, what you have said on the cover. And I mean every word of it again whether you believe it or not. I stand for peace, for the sake of the whole world, which today considers our region as a nuclear flashpoint. I stand for peace for the sake of our region, the South Asian region, where progress and development is tied to harmony between India and Pakistan. I stand for peace for the sake of the people of our two countries. The down-trodden, toiling masses of India and Pakistan and I stand for peace for the sake of our future generation to whom we owe a better life and a better environment.
Yes, indeed Mr. Aroon Purie, I was being advised against coming, even by my daughter – because of her concern for me nothing else. Because of her concern for me against the extremist reactions, negative reactions by the extremists on both sides, in India and Pakistan. But I decided to come. I decided to come to prove a point that the extremist must not have their way. We the moderates must guide events. We the moderates must stand for resolution of all issues, of all disputes, between us for everlasting peace and we must not allow the extremist to create obstacles in the way of that peace of that direction towards peace. I know that the people of Pakistan desire peace, I know it for sure and I would like to tell all of you that, that is the reality. But they would like to have peace with honour and dignity, not a peace through coercion – a peace with sovereign equality.
Ladies & gentlemen, my credentials as a man for peace, you must differentiate a man of peace from a man for peace. I can’t be a man of peace because I have been solider. So I am a man of war but I am a man for peace and my credentials are proven by all my actions, the action that I have been taking in all the years that I have been at the helm of affairs. It was I who started/initiated the thawing of the relations between India and Pakistan. When I rang up Prime Minister Vajpayee after your most unfortunate earthquake in the year 2000 in Gujarat and I offered support from Pakistan. It was again Prime Minister Vajpayee and myself, I who finalized the draft joint declaration after the Agra Summit in July 2001 which would have formed the basis for durable peace.
The drafting of this declaration was indeed done at the highest level, by me myself, Foreign Minister of Pakistan Mr. Abdus Sattar, Prime Minister Vajpayee and your Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh sahab. We did the drafting. It is just unfortunate that some force behind the scene sabotaged this attempt twice where we could not finally reach an agreement on this joint declaration. Subsequently, we again went into the cold situation of the past, till a very unfortunate occurrence of the attack on your Parliament in December 2001 and what followed was very furious indeed. Firstly you went for a troop build-up, all the Indian forces moved on our border, including the forces on the Eastern command and we reciprocated of course. So there was a force stand of for almost one long year between us with the forces eye-ball to eye-ball contact.
Another thing that happened and I saw was that all along this one year there was a war hysteria that was whipped up in the public in India and if I may be allowed to say, by whom. By your political leadership and also the media. If I was to take a dig at India Today, maybe your magazine or your India Today also, that was the situation here. On our side, I tried my utmost to cool tempers. And you can read any of my statements or whatever I did, my actions. If you remember, my role was positive throughout. In January, just one and half months after this and during this stand of I decided to go for a handshake with Prime Minister Vajpayee at Katmandu during the SAARC summit in January 2002, to defuse the situation. And throughout this one year I was insisting on de-escalation, reduction of tension, I was asking for dialogue.
Ultimately, ladies and gentlemen war was averted. Thank God! These peace overtures finally led to the SAARC Summit in Islamabad in January 2004 and it resulted in the Islamabad resolution which stipulated resumption of dialogue and initiating confidence building measures for resolving all our disputes. That was very good. But Ladies and Gentlemen we lost two and a half years since the Agra summit in July 2001. So we restarted the same process. We also started the back-channel diplomacy. And then in India there was a change of Government – BJP lost and the Congress took over the reins of the Government. The good thing was despite this change the peace process did not get derailed, it continued and we came for the Delhi summit between myself and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. That was in April 2005. And after this Delhi summit we issued a joint statement which stipulated very importantly, the peace process being irreversible and that purposeful dialogue on Kashmir to be initiated for its final settlement. That was all very good. But again Ladies & Gentlemen, we lost another one and half years. So if you see from the Agra Summit in July 2001 and now it was April 2005, we lost four years. And again we were at the same point, good intentions of moving forward towards peace.
If you allow, I would like to digress a little and give you a very interesting episode during this Delhi Summit where myself and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh went to see the one-day cricket match between India and Pakistan. And there we were batting and Afridi, our great hitter whenever he is in form, was informed so he was hitting every ball for a six or a four to the boundary and the ball used to come near our enclosure every time. It was very embarrassing and whenever he hit, I would start looking left and right so that I avoid looking at, I don’t know what he is doing over there. And the match continued and then we left and went for the official meeting and at the meeting, I told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, I said Mr. Prime Minister I suggest although we are not scheduled to go for the closing ceremony, let us go for the closing ceremony also and let us do the prize distribution. He did talk about security problems, but then he very graciously agreed that we would go and I said very good and we started our discussion. But during the meeting my MS, my Military Secretary always had instructions whenever there is match or some kind of interesting thing going on, keep me informed even during important discussions, so every time he would enter with a chit. Maybe Prime Minister Manmohan Singh thought that he is giving me some important discussion point, actually he was giving me the cricket score. And I used to look at the chit and in that chit every time India loses two wickets, they are two down, the next chit comes after another half-an-hour, forty-five minutes, they have lost another one or two wickets.
Finally, when they had lost eight wickets I told Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh, I said Mr. Prime Minister it appears that your team is sabotaging our attempts to go for the ceremony and that is exactly what happened when the team was all out before we could go. However, please don’t take it that I am thinking that Pakistan team is great. I think your team is a great team and they are playing much better than ours these days. And Afreedi is not at all in form like he was at that time.
So, coming back to the subject, Ladies & Gentlemen, we also took a lot of other bold steps. I declared a unilateral ceasefire on the Line of Control, a unilateral ceasefire which was reciprocated by India, by you and it is still holding out. We have save so many lives and so much loss of property. The idea of the Srinagar Muzafarabad Bus Service and also opening of maybe five more routes for travel across the Line of Control and a transit trade relationship came from our side. And also may I say after the devastating earthquake in Kashmir on both sides and our frontier province in 2005, I even said that we need to open the line of control totally for relief operation on both sides.
Ladies and Gentlemen, may I very honestly and sincerely say that I was not doing all this for any showmanship or for any point scoring. I was doing all this with a very sincere understanding and a very sincere conviction that the path of peace is the right course to be adopted for Pakistan and for India and for this whole region and for the whole world.
Ladies and Gentlemen we have done enough damage to each other over all these years since our coming into being. We have fought three wars. We fought a number of mini wars and we have had a cold war throughout since 1947. I strongly believe that we should try for peace now with equal zeal as we tried confronting each other. The twenty-first century is a century of geo-economics they say and they also say that the nineteenth century belonged to Europe, the twentieth century belonged to the United States and they say that the twenty-first century belongs to Asia. The question that comes to my mind is are we the South Asians poised to be a part of this Asian century of progress and development. The answer that I gave to myself is no. We are not, I am afraid we are not. While South-east Asia, East Asia, North-east Asia, China, Australia they are all cooperating for economic development, South Asia, Central Asia, this region is out of the loop. It is out of the loop because the only reason out of the loop because of Indo-Pakistan acrimony and hostility. The three most serious challenges common to both India and Pakistan that we have to face together and separately in our respective countries are:-
(i) The curse of terrorism and extremism
(ii) Poverty and underdevelopment; and
(iii) Hostility between our two countries.
These are the three issues I think which we have to address and resolve to move forward, together as I said and separately in our respective countries. Our social indicators, maybe, are the worst in the world. Maybe we are the most illiterate, most backward and the poorest. There are hundreds of millions of people who live below the poverty line. The situation indeed demands, bold and affirmative action. We must overcome the burden of history. That is what I feel to move forward. We must look at the present realities and we must work for the future. We have to cooperate to rise together and I have always said for the sake of the people, for the sake of toiling masses of our two countries, we can draw a lesson from Europe. Europe was at each other’s throats. They were warring for centuries, even outside their boundaries in other parts of the world, in South America, in Africa and in Asia they were warring with each other. But then they realized the dividends of peace and may I say they decided to put aside the burden of history and therefore, now we see the European Union, their common currency the Euro and their cooperation for progress and development. I think we need to learn a lesson from them. We must also see the dividends of peace that will accrue.
On the issue of trade, I think at the bilateral level there will be manifold increase in trade. I am sure we all will agree. In the few years of reproachma when during my tenure at the helm of affairs in Pakistan were our relations indeed irrespective of the covers, was the best ever between India and Pakistan, the relation between India and Pakistan I think in those years. During those years, the trade, the importable items to Pakistan, I know increased from two hundred to one thousand four hundred. That benefitted both sides Pakistan as well as India. So, therefore, I know bilaterally the trade will increase manifold to our mutual advantage. Intra-regionally, there will be interaction as far as Pakistan is concerned, maybe we have a road access to Nepal and Bangladesh. As far as India is concerned, you will have a road access to Afghanistan. Inter-regionally the South Asia and India in particular, could interact with Central Asia, could interact with the Gulf, could interact with Iran and IPI pipeline is the case in point. So certainly economically we stand to gain immeasurably. On the defence side, there will be certainly a defence expenditure reduction, more resources diverted towards development, well-being and welfare of the people. Our fight against terrorism and extremism will be more coordinated. With cooperation from each other we will able to fight it more strongly.
SAARC, the only organization representing South Asia will be rejuvenated from all points of view. Tourism will boom especially religious tourism on both sides – there are so many people who would like to come to India and so many people in Pakistan and so many people in India you know because you have your revered Hindu shrines in Pakistan, Sikh shrines in Pakistan, Buddhist localities in Pakistan. So there will be a tremendous boom on the tourism side. I don’t think we need anybody else coming in because there will be millions of people coming and going from our two countries. The question that I ask myself – is such a dream of peace possible? And the answer is yes indeed, it is possible. But it is made difficult when we funnel public hatred within our public, for political expediency and also through a negative media, taking the public apart, increasing the gulf between the people of the two countries and the key to progress on peace lies in the affinity of the people of the two countries. If instead of bringing them closer to each other, if we were take actions where we are increasing the gulf between them – that is certainly not the direction of peace. The start point in my mind is to reduce the trust deficit through very genuine confidence building measures.
We must avoid hyper reaction. We must avoid war hysteria, whipping up war hysteria in the public, creating hatred in the public because of any terrorist attack that may have taken place. We must realize that we are the victims and we have to go for solutions together. We are victims together of terrorism and extremism and we have to go together to solutions for terrorism and extremism. So let us not create such a hysteria in our public where coming together becomes difficult, where cooperation on the issue of terrorism and extremism becomes almost impossible.
Having done this, improving the environment, we must then take on resolution of disputes with true sincerity, flexibility and boldness. These are the three qualities that are required because the last element, boldness, unless boldness is there sincerity and flexibility and understanding is useless and meaningless. Because if you don’t have the boldness to go for the solution, and solutions may I say are very much possible, if our niyath and I am not purposely saying intention, because I don’t think niyat means intentions, it is far bigger, deeper than intentions. Niyat comes from the heart, intention I think is only from the mind. If the Niyat is there from the heart and minds, solutions to our problems are very much possible.
I would like to give very short comments on each of our dispute. And the first one that I want to take on is Kashmir itself. We have to head for a solution. I had given a formula which was my idea, which could form the basis for moving forward and taking it towards a solution and the formula included identifying the zones of Kashmir, going for graduated demilitarization, especially from the cities, going out of cities so that the people of Kashmir can heave a sigh of relief and giving maximum self-governance to the people of Kashmir and having some kind of an over-watch on the self-governance. We thought of even making the Line of Control irrelevant. I think this is another Berlin wall which needs to torn down and not kept as a water-tight Berlin wall where people cannot even meet each other families and relations.
Then is the issue, and may I say lot of progress was made in the general direction that I have said and I am very proud of being a part of that progress that we made, Siachen is the other dispute. I think it is the easiest to solve because I think both of us are suffering. And may I hasten to add the Indian soldier is suffering far more than the Pakistani soldier because of the weather and terrain hazards that you face. And also may I say that there is an environmental hazard now in Siachen where the glacier is melting down. So for the sake of peace, for the sake of environment, we need to reach an accord. We must disengage and demilitarize. I think it can be done very easily.
Sir Creek is the third issue/ dispute. The significance of Sir Creek is no longer land it is more extended into the sea, into the EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone). Well we have carried out a joint survey and completed the joint survey during my being at the helm of affairs. And we certainly have a very clear idea of the problem. We must go for a compromise solution, that is very much possible. Even if in this zone, if all the mineral wealth of the world and all the oil and gas of the world is within this area that we are fighting for, we must find a common solution. And it is very easy.
Lastly is the water dispute. Ladies and Gentlemen, I think futuristically this has potents of danger. We must not open new fronts and we must stick to the water treaty, Indus Water Treaty.
Having identified the disputes, I feel we must show resolve to solve these disputes and to start and in the words of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, “we must pick the threads again” from where we left and start moving forward. We must start meetings for the dispute resolution at the Committees level and at the summit level. We must also initiate confidence building measures without any loss of time, we must stop unconsidered accusations against each other and also we must stop meddling in each other’s domestic affairs. And then we should also restart the back channel. I think it is very useful.
My hope, having said all this, Ladies and Gentlemen, is that the public and civil society at both ends, in India and Pakistan, and the media should play a positive role to put pressure on our respective Governments to go for peace, make progress towards resolution of disputes and ultimate peace. In this globalized world we all understand the significance and the importance of the media. The media can create perceptions on the positive side as well as the negative side. It is the cry of the day and the environment today that the media must create positivity and be positive for the sake of, as I said the toiling masses, because peace will be a win-win for both, especially for the people of Pakistan and India. So let the media and the political leadership show positivity.
Having said all this, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am coming towards the close. I would be remiss if having travelled all the way from Islamabad to Delhi, and had this opportunity to address such an august gathering at this very prestigious India Today Conclave afforded by Aroon Purie sahab, I was not to open my heart to you and talk very frankly, not that I haven’t talked very frankly in the past, but I would like to go for some more frank talk. And I do expect a very frank question and answer session, a very frank question session and a more frank answer session.
Firstly, Ladies and Gentlemen, there is a dire need of an attitudinal change, at both ends – more in India, less in Pakistan. Please bear out with me. We have to or you have to accept the reality and the sovereign equality of Pakistan, because I know that in some quarter this is not acceptable. We have to change and we have to improve public perceptions of each other. The perceptions of Pakistan in India are poor and I sincerely think so. Why are there poor? Why do you perceive Pakistan to be poor, to be bad from all points of view? And I say this with authority having interacted with many Indians who have come to Pakistan and when I go abroad. We see Pakistan bashing in your political campaigns. We see Pakistan bashing, Pakistan army bashing, ISI bashing and maligning of our society in your media, including India Today Sir. And I do read India Today, because you have a good magazine and certainly it is a lot of reading material. It creates misperception of Pakistan in the public. Therefore, whenever Indians come to Pakistan, and I have met so many of them, they get very pleasantly surprised when they see what we have in Pakistan and when they meet people, and their attitude, the attitudes of the people of Pakistan. What I see that either the people who come there do not know us, they don’t know anything about Pakistan or they have very negative distorted impressions of Pakistan and many of them have told me that they thought that things are this, this, however they see that it is very different.
Also talking very frankly of attitudes, I remember when Advani sahab came to Pakistan and I think he praised or said some good words about Qaid-e-Azam, Mohd. Ali Zinnah, and I remember the uproar here in India and I think he was forced to resign or he was forced to do something or the other. I am told by a very avid reader, a friend of mine, who comes here, he says he visits the book-stores, all book-stores. He says that on Qaid-e-Azam, you will not find a positive book in the book-stores of India – I am talking about Delhi and other cities. The one that he saw was, ‘Zinnah the man who broke India’. I would like to ask you what drawing a simile, what should Pakistan’s attitude be towards Bangladesh for that matter. We had a very violent separation. Should we live in our history, hate each other. I think we have buried the past. We have undone this burden of history. It was terrible. In fact when I went to Bangladesh many years back and they took me to the monument of their 1971 monument, it is quite embarrassing for me. I wrote there words to the effect that, maybe I am slipping up on a few words, that the courage needed to reconcile and compromise is far greater than that needed to confront and fight. I am prepared to show that courage. I hope there is reciprocation. I think we need to change this attitude of ours, between our two countries, show that courage to reconcile and compromise.
May I say that this hate campaign is to quite an extent one sided. I don’t see any India bashing or very little India bashing in Pakistan’s political campaign. So I think we need to correct the situation, try to improve images of each other. Because I believe we cannot as I said get closer and hope for peace if the people of the two countries hate each other or there is great divide or there is a gulf between the people. As I said we have to create positivity and one hopes that all this august gathering the civil society of India and Pakistan, and the media of India and Pakistan create this positivity so that the people start getting closer towards each other. And this was happening in the past few years but all these events of terrorism and extremism which I am going to talk now have created that negativity again which needs correction. One does understand that India is a large country, you have very strong forces. But Pakistan is also not a small country and our armed forces are also not of any mean strength.
So, therefore, Ladies and Gentlemen, we have to understand that Pakistan cannot be coerced; the people of Pakistan cannot accept and live with corerce. India has to show magnanimity and humility and I know that you will gain in stature when you show magnanimity and humility in your bigness. One cannot be a large country with a small heart.
The second point that I want to make of the attitudinal change is that we have to resolve all our disputes, especially Kashmir, without any loss of time, because it is impacting negatively on our respective societies. And I want to make two points on this issue of resolution of disputes. Number one Ladies and Gentlemen, as I have learnt through my own job training of the eight-nine years, that resolution of disputes involves a give and take. It cannot be a take and take. And it is the give part which is the difficulty and that is where leadership demands, there is a demand on the leadership to be bold enough to give on both side, then only can you reach conclusions, otherwise you will never reach conclusions, you will never reach peace, you cannot resolve disputes if you think you can take everything.
The second point that I want to make in the resolution of disputes, fleeting opportunities, Ladies and Gentlemen, do not last forever. They come for maybe a short period. The demand on the leadership is to grasp that fleeting moment and that is why I said it needs boldness. You cannot allow the fleeting moment to go by because it is not going to last forever. So, I only hope that the leadership on both sides grasp fleeting opportunities and they bring peace above.
The last point that I want to make is on the issue of terrorism and extremism which indeed is a curse for all of us. It has to be defeated. But how? How to defeat terrorism and extremism – in the world, in the region, in Pakistan, in India, how to defeat it? Firstly, we have to have a very realistic and clear understanding of the root causes of terrorism and extremism. And then addressing those root causes is the critical issue, otherwise Ladies and Gentlemen we will fail. We can fight for centuries against terrorism as it exists now, if we don’t address the root causes, it will carry on and on and on. We have to adopt a holistic approach towards eliminating terrorism and extremism and here I would like to point out, very frankly, that we must consider some ground realities in India also. I am going to talk about Pakistan also. Please don’t take it that I am just here to give a lecture to the Indians on what is happening here, I do understand the environment in Pakistan also. But we have to understand these things, we have to talk very frankly about them, we have to understand them and we need to address them. And if we all behave like Ostriches with our heads in the sand, well then we won’t reach any kind of peace.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Kashmir remains the key dispute and the sore point. We had a freedom struggle since 1947 going on and from 1989 onwards this non-violent movement turned into a militant struggle. This has a direct impact on Pakistan’s society. There is an emotional involvement of the people of Pakistan with the people of Kashmir. There is public sympathy in the people of Pakistan for the people of Kashmir. Therefore, this has given rise to dozens of freelance mujahedeen groups and it is encouraging militancy in the Pakistan society which certainly needs to be controlled. But the task of controlling these dozens of militant groups who have come up since 1989, is not easy, it is very difficult. And I personally feel that dispute resolution is the only permanent solution and we must go to the dispute resolution.
The story also does not end at Kashmir, Ladies and Gentlemen. New phenomenon of terrorism and extremism have erupted in your society and in Pakistan’s society. If you need to address the alienation and the frustration of the minoritisation, in general and the Muslims in particular, in India as a result of some prejudices, unequal opportunities, may be some atrocities are leading to extremism within the Muslim youth here. This needs cognizance and correction at our level with the Government policies. As I said please don’t think that I am not cognizant about what is happening in Pakistan’s society. We face challenges from four facets of terrorism and extremism.
We face the challenge of terrorism from Al Quida, we face the challenge of terrorism from militant Taliban, we face of the challenge of extremism of the Talibanisation of the Tribal districts of the frontier province, we face the challenge of extremism in our society. I know that we evolved strategy to deal with each one of these four. So please understand, I am talking very bluntly and in a straight-forward manner, but please understand that there are problems in India, there are problems in Pakistan, there are problems in this whole region and in the world. We need to understand those core issues and the problems, strike and go for the resolution of those core issues, I always have been saying drawing a simile between terrorism and extremism with a tree.
If you kill terrorists, wherever anything happens whether it is Bombay, Lahore or anywhere, you have plucked leaves of a tree. The leaves will grow again, maybe in great numbers. If you are able to cut off any terrorist organization, you have chopped of one branch of that tree, the tree will continue to grow. You have to get to the root of that tree, uproot that tree, then only will you end terrorism and extremism and that is root that I always keep talking about. That is the root which the world has to understand and we have to understand in this region, you have to understand in your own country and we have to understand in our own country. My belief has always been that terrorism is born from the womb of festering political disputes.