Adresses and speeches
General Musharraf’s Speech at Cornell University, New York
Mr. Scott Son, President Cornell University, faculty members, students, distinguished guests and ladies and gentlemen, it is an honour and privilege to have been afforded of this opportunity of talking to this gathering on my book but more than that on Pakistan-US relations. This University has its own prestige and it is well known around the world. It is well known in Pakistan and I know that lot of students have studied here and now studied in Cornell, so therefore I said it is an honour specially.
I try to restrict myself on book for a short while and I want to talk about Pakistan United States relations.
Ladies and Gentlemen today free world’s major concerns are five; counter terrorism, democracy, nuclear proliferation, human rights and narcotics. Pakistan happens to be directly or indirectly involved in each one of them and we happen to be in a centre stage on each one of these, therefore the significance of Pakistan and may I say my autobiography that is ‘In the Line of Fire’, deals with exactly these very subjects. That is I feel the significance of the book and the significance of through the book conveys you what Pakistan stands for, it obviously deals with my life right from beginning to end, which may I say when I look back it has been an exciting life, it has been thrilling and it has been dangerous and there has never been a dull moment. Right from the time when we migrated from India to Pakistan, when I was very small but I remember the killings, the deaths all around as we travelled from Delhi to Karachi and we went through Punjab where maximum killings were taking place. From that time on I have seen very turbulent life at various stages having joined the Army my career, my rise in the Army, where to give you a glimpse in 1990 I was Brigadier General doing course at the Royal College of Defence Studies but in 2000 I was the President of Pakistan. So in ten years my life has seen happenings takes place which was beyond even my imagination and my thoughts so I trace in this book the earlier part of my life and how I passed it. I never took life as a matter of life and death. I live life but then when I saw myself being propelled into important areas my seriousness, my gradual shift in attitudes did take place and since then I have been in the army and finally at the central stage. The book covers that entire professional carrier and then on matter of helm of affairs in Pakistan.
Whatever my achievements and whatever the slippages are over there. As frank and detail in passion as I could make it. Many have been asking me, why I did write it now while I am in the office. Lot of people debating that it is not normal. Its quite unprecedented that the person in office has written his biography. But I don’t think that it is unprecedented at all. There are world leaders, who have written, actually I know, Nelson Mandela wrote his book when he was a President. I know many other Presidents who have. But in any case, one doesn’t need to copy anyone. I don’t believe in copying anyone. I have my own style and my own way of doing things. I don’t copy anyone. And I thought there are no restrictions, laid down anywhere that a President should not write a book. So, what is a problem in writing a book? There are no restriction and I think I should have to write a book for several reasons.
First of all fortunately or luckily, as luck and destiny has played and important part in my life. I am in centre stage. I am looked at as some type of an enigma. What I am doing? Whether I bluffing the world? Am I cooperating and speaking the truth? Am I dragging my feet? All this has put me into centre stage, where people are listening to me and looking at me.
Secondly, there are misperceptions of the country. The country Pakistan is also at centre stage and every-body is looking at Pakistan. There are misperceptions and distortions of the highest magnitude against Pakistan. I say that Pakistan might have perhaps one of most misperceived country in the world. That is I thought why I need to address situations through world interest in me, I thought I could project the right, project Pakistan. I could clear misperceptions; I could tell the world what Pakistan stands for. Therefore, I decided to write. While many said, I should not write. But I thought that I need to write it now and convey to the world who I am and also what Pakistan is.
I would be remissive if I did not forward my acknowledgements and gratitude to certain people who helped me in this book. First of all my own relatives. My wife, other is my brother in law and sister in law. They were helpful to me certainly in proof reading and making it recollect that I have missed out. Because I didn’t maintain a diary, unfortunately I wasn’t that hard-working. I didn’t maintain any diary. So one have to remind whatever I am missing. So they help me to do that. The other acknowledgement which I would like to give is to other people, the editors. Bruce Nickels, Humayan from Simon and Chester (USA) and Humayan Gohar of Pakistan. I must thank them for their editing job. Humanyan Gohar the editor in Pakistan is a personal friend. I must express gratitude for his burning, much midnight oil to help in reading through checking the scripts. Then there is Chris Kalhone, who was my agent right in the beginning. And he who is the one who have to select publishers. I express my gratitude to him. And Brigadier Asim Bajwa, he is the one who was recording whatever I used to think and say and transcribing all the details and making my job of writing much easier. Initially when I started the job, I thought it would be colossal task, how I am going to complete this. I don’t have the time to write. And also I don’t have any diary that I maintain. No record. But there is Chinese saying that journey of distance of 30 thousand miles starts with a first step. A person who could not take that first step is a looser. I am not a looser. So I took the first step. I am now proud of the fact that I have come to the end of the journey, I have travel the thousand miles and I have completed the book.
I would now get back to Pakistan US relations. Our relationship has seen a lot of ups and downs. They were ups right from independence 1947 to 1989. Those 42 years we were the most elite allied of the US. We were the strategic partners of US in the cold war period. We were the bulwark against Soviets expansion in their desire to reach the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Pakistan was the bukwark. Then when soviets invaded Afghanistan. Pakistan got in the lead role to fight the soviets in Afghanistan. We were together in the collation for ten years. We fought the Soviets in Afghanistan. And we defeated them. It would be an exaggeration if I said that the end of the cold war, the victory in the cold war, the break-up of the Soviet Union, The reunification of Germany, all these owe a lot to Pakistan because of our lead role in Afghanistan. All this followed because of Soviet defeat in Afghanistan. And that was Pakistan, Pakistan’s intelligence setup, Pakistan’s military and Pakistan’s forces, Pakistan’s Government, which was in lead role for ten years assisted US and the collation to fight the Soviets. And I if I was to give you an example of one appliqué of Berlin wall, presented to the Chief of Intelligence of Pakistan by the Chief of Intelligence of Germany. It retreats to the one to strike the first blow that was the significance of defeating the Soviets in Afghanistan.
Then come 1989, everyone leaves us high and dry. This is 12 years. Why we were left high and dry with 20 to 30 thousand Mujaheedins, who were brought all over the Muslim world hold up in Afghanistan. In 1995, Taliban re-emerged, we were alone. Four million refugees came into Pakistan. We were alone. The Mujaheedins joins into Al-Qaeda. The same Mujaheedins who were brought there. And we were alone. We had a strategic relationship, India were on the Soviet camp, on the Eastern side. And US, starts developing strategic relationship, with the side which were in the opposite camp. Why I am saying that it had its affects on the people, the man in the street. We are quite alright; these are bilateral issues, India and US relations. And I don’t believe that Pakistan should be indo centric. We have our own importance, we need to develop relationships with US and India has its own importance.
But what I am trying to say is that there was a down from 1989 to 2001 in relations between Pakistan and US. Then 2001, and 9/11 comes, and we see Pakistan’s importance again. No body could deal with the Al-Qaeda and Taliban without Pakistan’s assistance. And Pakistan itself being a victim of terrorism, desired to fight terrorism. Therefore, we are together. And again this time, we are in the lead role to fight terrorism. We were in the lead role to fight the Soviets and now again we are now in the lead role, whether it is Al-Qaeda or Taliban. We happened to be in the lead role.
But during these 12 years, there has been a fall-out on our internal conditions on our society. The society transformed our national fabric, was torn during this period. That is the national fabric, while we are fighting terrorism and extremism, which we are trying to repair now. We seek understanding from the West and from the free world. Instead of accusing us, for not doing enough, I don’t know who is doing more than us when we have inducted 80 thousand troops and suffer five hundred causalities. We are in a stage where we are repairing our relations. At the Government level, I am very glad to say that Pakistan-US relations are good. And they are becoming very good. It’s a long term relationship. It’s a broad based relationship we are developing. It’s a strategic relationship we are developing. Irrespective of relationship of US with any other country, we are conscious of our own relation. We are conscious of US Pakistan’s interest in each other. Therefore we are developing this relationship now. But unfortunately I would be remissive if I did not say that at the peoples level, the feelings in the minds and hearts of the man in the street will change gradually. Because there is degree of lack of trust, the trust that broke will take time to repair.
But we should take action to repair this and take it back it to pre 1989 situation. But everything that happens in the Muslim world, like the new crisis of Lebanon, I think make the repair work more difficult. If you are going to close down the fronts and resolve Palestinian dispute, go on to resolve other disputes. Bringing justice and giving justice to the Muslim world, which is feeling alienated, I think the repair work will continue.
Now in this broad based strategic relationship, ladies and gentlemen, one has to be conscious, that in today’s world the relationship develop on mutual interest. Every nation has its own interests. And these are those interests, which one promotes and which one guards.
Pakistan has its own significance; I would like to convey to you what is our significance. Number one, as I said we are playing a lead role in fighting terrorism. But may I be the audacious enough that may be we are the only country in the world, which understands terrorism in its entire complexity. Now what is complexity, initially there was terrorism but then the base of terrorism is extremism. It is the extremist who become terrorist. And extremism is a state of mind. And extremist is not a terrorist. He can become a terrorist. So we need to address the extremism and correct extremism. We need a different strategy. And we are implementing the strategy in Pakistan.
Then as time passes, Al-Qaeda focus shift to Taliban. We need to understand the Taliban issue. While we defeated the Al-Qaeda in the streets and mountains of Afghanistan, the battle continues, but they are in small numbers in isolated penny packets in the mountains. I confidently say that it is Pakistan Army, Pakistan Intelligence and law enforcement agencies, which have broken the back of Al Qaeda in Pakistan. That is with confidence and conviction I am saying.
But then the Talibans have remerged now. So we need to understand who is Taliban, what is Taliban. With Taliban, there is another issue, Talibanization. Talibanization is a very backward culture. Where they don’t want anyone to watch television, they are against music, they expect people to grow beards. This kid of obscurantist views which these Taliban are trying to spread. We need to stop that. And they are militant. They are aggressive. So we need to fight Taliban and Talibanization. So this is the entire complexity of the whole situation. We need to understand, where are the Talibans, I will just tell you the latest on that, I just read the latest on US report to the Secretary General on the situation of Afghanistan on 24th Sep 2006. I am now quoting from there:
“Insurgencies being conducted mostly Afghans operating within Afghanistan borders. Highly distinct leadership centres of insurgents appearing to act in a loose coordination with each other and benefiting from financial and operational links with drug trafficking network. That is the source of their of finances i.e. the drug mafia. They include the wing of Hisba Islami Party, lead by Gulbadin Hakmatyar. They are in the Kunar Province of Afghanistan. There is another Taliban Northern Command, in the Nanghar and Langhar province of Afghanistan. There is another network by Jilal-ud-din-Haqani. A former Taliban regime minister, in Khost and Paktia provinces. There is wanashura and Pakita, there is a Taliban southern command in Zildan, Kandhar and Khorajan Provinces. The foot soldiers of the insurgents are Afghans recruited within Afghanistan.”
This is what the United Nations says. This is what I was trying for the past three months. That the most dangerous thing that can happen in Afghanistan that if the Talibans get converted into the peoples offences, by the Pakhtoons of the region. So therefore the necessity is to rein the non-Taliban Pakhtoon away from the Talibans. Then confront the Taliban’s militarily. That is the strategy I am saying and that is the strategy we are following. So the aspersions that not doing enough is not only disappointing because if we are not doing it enough who else is doing enough.
This is a time for strategy and time for thinking. There is a time for brain more than brawn. The military is capable of doing two things. It can-not deliver peace. It can buy you time. It can create an environment. But military is not an ultimate solution for problem. Ultimate solution has to come through other means, specially political mean. And I feel that Pakistan Army has created the environment. The tribal of the main agency of Waziristan themselves approach the Governor that we want a peace treaty. And we are prepared to do the bottom line we gave them. No Al Qaeda activity on our side or the other side of the border, no Taliban activity on our side and across the border. No Talibanization and they sign it. So this is the way forward. And I think that it has seeds of success. And if succeeds we need to copy it on the other side of the border in Afghanistan. This is the way forward.
There is no time to loose. The misperceptions that have been created that everything is in Pakistan. All the Taliban are in Pakistan. Mulla Omer is living in Quetta. There is a Taliban headquarter in Quetta. This is most ridiculous. If the whole force in United Nations, that I have read, is in Afghanistan, I think any commander of that force, and this Mullah Omer is the commander, must be utterly silly to be in Quetta when his force is there in Afghanistan. This is baseless and sooner we understand the reality and start reining the population to our side earlier, because we are loosing time. This Pakhtoon population of Afghanistan, because of Talibanization and also suffering due to alleviation, they will keep joining the other side. Then we have an uprising in hand. We must prevent that.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Pakistan is a modern society, not an extremist and intolerant society. And I have told you, see Pakistan in 1979, before 1979 and after 1979, as I have told you, 27 years are national fabric has been destroyed. Therefore you see that extremist actions. But they are the fringe; they are not in the majority. I have two ladies in my delegation and they have fought the elections and won the elections by defeating the men. In our National assembly, 72 out of 242 are women. They are 22 percent. They are politically empowered. This lady sitting on the left, belongs to Balochistan. The most remote province of Pakistan. She came from the remotest part of the remote province. I went to her village when I took over; I promised her that I am going to come over to your village, the first time I leave Islamabad. And I travelled to her village. In that distant village, she is running a school. In that village, there are about 800 girls. So this is moderate society. And there is Mr. Bandara, who is from minority; I specially brought him, because we have empowered them. We have given them a joint electorate. They had a separate electorate, where the Muslims could not go for them, because they voted only for minorities.
I gave them a double advantage, a joint electorate and fixed seats. So every Muslim has to go to them and ask them for their votes. Therefore they are in the main stream.
So ladies and gentlemen, Pakistan is progressive society. There is a fringe extremist who are more visible because of there militancy, unfortunately. Pakistan is the most democratic country in the Muslim world. We have empowered the people of Pakistan. We have given them the local Government system to the grass root level which the World Bank saying the silent system of Pakistan. Then we have empowered the women, the minorities of Pakistan. We have liberated the media. When there was only one TV channel, there are 42 channels now. So they are openly saying in favour or against the Government or criticising me, but since I have no skeletons in the cupboard, let them criticising. Then we had elections, we had local and Senate elections. We are going to have National assembly elections. We will have National and provincial elections in 2007 next year. The first time in the history of Pakistan that all the Assemblies are completed their tenure. Never in the history that has happened. That was the democracy that was running in Pakistan. So therefore may I tell you with full confidence who supports democracy.
Lastly I would like to talk about the Pak-US relation. I said they are broad based. We are fighting terrorism together. We are developing and economic relationship. And in economic relationship as far Pakistan is concerned, we are trying to develop trade relations, enhance our market access. And also joint investment in Pakistan. This investment will create jobs, expand our industry, will counter unemployment and poverty. Therefore that is at the root of extremism. If we go to the root of extremism, we will go the poverty alleviation through job creation, through trade and investment. Therefore I keep telling everyone, trade not aid. We are in favour of trade, much more than aid. I think our economy is in very strong footings now. Therefore, we don’t need aid. We have already signed a trade and investment trade work agreement. We are in to the bilateral investment treaty. We are looking at the Free Trade Agreement.
In the social sector, we are getting assistance in the health and education sector. Also in the science and technology sector. And we are building defence relationships also with the resolution of F-16’s dispute relationship which are affecting the mind of man in the street. Because we were wronged in 1990’s. This will go a long way to in giving some comforts to the man in street of Pakistan to have a seriousness of broad based relations of US with us. Our expectation with US is playing a role towards indo Pak reproach mark, resolution of the Kashmir dispute in the back ground. Because we are going on a bilateral track to resolve our disputes. And we deserve equal treatment of peaceful use of Nuclear energy. In any case, I tell my US colleagues that we have a 300 MW plant. We are putting up another one. We will go ahead putting up more. This will be in line of complete IAEA safeguards. We are prepared to give any type of safe guard. As we are already a nuclear state and already have every thing.
Internationally we must solve the Palestinian dispute. And I am very proud and glad to say that President Bush is very conscious of it. And he is endeavouring his most to resolve the Palestinian dispute. It’s a difficult dispute. But I think the moderates of the Muslim world, the moderates in the Palestine who want peace could play a role in assisting towards reaching a solution which accepts the reality of Israel but it must go for a Palestinian state and creation of a Palestinian state there. These are our expectations. This is all I have to say ladies and gentlemen. I am thankful to your patient hearing. I am open to any question.
Q: As you know there are concerns about the last elections held in Pakistan, its nature of it. I was wondering, when the next elections, what would you personally say that the elections will be held truly free?
President: Thank you. I don’t know what you saw in the last elections, which elections you are talking about 2002? I don’t really know who has given you the impression and where did you get this idea that there was a problem in 2002. That there was such a strong opposition that they don’t allow the house to move forward, If there is any kind of manipulation or wrong doing. The elections were totally fair and impartial.
And in 2007, let me assure you the elections would be fair and transparent. And we will accept any amount of observers from anywhere. If Cornell University wants to send anybody, you should come there.
Q: You made the statement “Muhabat Zindabad” in Havana. And every-time you made a slogan like this millions of Muslim from India and Pakistan has allied and they have see that may be one day, families from India and Pakistan can see each other and can see eventually their grand Parents. What is your take on InshAllah in your life time and in our life time if that is possible?
President: I was born in Indian part and obviously the difference between your parents and mine is that they opt to select to remain in India and mine opted to come to Pakistan. Certainly I totally I agree with you, I think we have been fighting enough. We have been confronting enough. We fought three wars and I have been a part of two of them. I am now going for peace. People keep casting percussions that I am a man of war, how I am talking of peace?
But I always tell them is that a man of war is more qualified to talk of peace because I have seen death, I have seen lot of pain, I have seen my friends, my son name is the name of one of my friend was killed in war of 1971. So I understand the pains of wars more than one maybe that hasn’t seen the battlefield. So therefore I am more eminently qualified to speak on peace. I am very sincere on peace. But I have been saying that unless we address the core issue we can not achieve permanent peace. And the core issue happens to be Kashmir on which we have fought all the wars. All the wars are because of Kashmir.
In Kashmir, we have been killing each other across the line of control every day. Siachen is also a part of Kashmir. Where we use to fight kill each other at height of 20,000 feet. And we are still there eye ball to eye-ball. We need to resolve these disputes. And I am very glad to say that my last meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and lot has been happening during this period. I had gone to Agra. I had gone to Delhi. Your Prime Minister has come to Pakistan. We have covered substantial ground on this issue on confidence building measures. We have opened two routs in Kashmir. We are looking at truck service. We opened six points on joint interaction during the earthquake for giving comfort to the people across the borders. We have increased the people to people contact manifold. Our media people going across and Indian people coming on our side. There are people coming across the cultural side. There are tourist and religious people coming to their shrines in Pakistan. All this is happening. We have even enhanced the trade between India and Pakistan. But I would say we can-not go whole hog till we resolve the disputes. There where I have seen a light now with our joint statement in Havana. Where we have shown resolve, that we will address the core issues. We have been discussing Kashmir and we are going to narrow down our divergences and reinforce our convergences.
Q: I wanted to know if you can address the audience and talk about your vision for Pakistan’s future in Science and Technology within the educational contact. Undoubtly there is lot of talent within the US with the Pakistani origin. How do you see and bridge this gap between the talent here in US and some-how exported back to Pakistan and have them to aid them to develop Pakistan in Science and Technology. Provide a fertile ground to happen?
President: Yes exactly it is very close to my heart what you have said. As I believe that the ultimate progress and prosperity of Pakistan is in human resource capital. We have to go for HR development. Because this is knowledge driven world today and that is the important what you have asked. Now as far as jobs and reverse brain drain you are talking about, it has a direct relationship with job opportunities in Pakistan. And job opportunities have a direct relationship with economic prosperity, the economic performance of Pakistan. When the economy performs, Alhamdulilha today for the last four years our GDP growth is 7% average. Our GDP has doubled. Our per capita income has doubled. We are in the middle income category country. Therefore there is boom in the industry; we are growing in double figures. Building and construction industry is booming, telecommunication and IT is booming. In the telecommunication industry, three years back Pakistan has 600,000 mobile telephones. Today ladies and gentlemen, we are touching 40 million in three years and so also in the IT field, I don’t want to go into the details. Now what we are doing? What is our vision? We are following a vision, first of all, allocation of funds to higher education. It was just a half a billion rupees, five years back, today you know an eminent scientist Dr. Professor Atta ur Rehman, an eminent scholar, excellent scientist and an administrator, his budget is now 22 billion. So this is the increase in the budget reallocation. It is 4,400 % increase. We have started a PhD programme. In the past, we used to have only 2 dozen maximum scientist and engineering and science and technology PhD’s. Today there are 900, doing PhD’s in Pakistan and abroad. We are now targeting 1500, every year and by year 2010 and then.
Then we are opening 9 universities of Engineering and Science and Technology in various cities of Pakistan. Two will come up in 2007. And 7 of them in 2008. These 9 universities are coming up with the help of countries like France, Germany, Sweden, Netherlands, Austria, South Korea and Japan. These are the universities which are meant to create talent in Engineering and Science and Technology. We have created a National Vocational and Educational Commission for technical education. Which are opening technical schools in Pakistan and link to our industry. So in short, we are bring the synchronization between our industry and the engineers which we want to produce through these universities and the technicians we want to produce through the technical institutions. This is the broad vision and already there is a reverse brain drain because of the opportunities available in Pakistan.
Over 250 PhD’s from US and Europe have returned and teaching in the universities in Pakistan to enhance the level of education in our Universities. We are going to follow this path. And I am sure the higher education will keep rising. And there would be more opportunities, people like you to return to Pakistan when you get your degree.
Thank you very much.