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Pakistani president: September 11 an 'attack on humanity'

President Musharraf
President Musharraf  

(CNN) -- Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf spoke to the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York City on Saturday. The following is a text of his address.

Ladies and gentlemen, last year at the millennium summit, all of us were looking forward to a renaissance in the new millennium, a renaissance in the hearts and minds of the people for a better world, where peace and justice would prevail. Unfortunately, today we gather against the somber backdrop of the terrorist outrage that the world witnessed in shock and horror on that fateful day of 11th of September.

In seconds, images of fire and death reached all of us around the globe. Thousands of innocent lives were lost in minutes. Sixty nations lost some of their brightest and their best. Pakistan, like the rest of the world, mourned the colossal loss of innocent life. The map of the world changed, and the entire globe descended into a deep crisis.

At the time of such great turmoil, when ... there is indeed a need for clear talk and firm action, I come from Pakistan with a message of determination and of resolve, as well as a message of peace for all peoples.

The General Assembly this year meets under the shadow of a horrendous act of terror perpetuated against the people of the United States, an act for which no grievance or cause can ever be a justification, an act that must be condemned unambiguously and in the strongest words. This was an attack on humanity itself, and we all must, therefore, unite to fight this scourge.

Pakistan has, therefore, followed words with actions. Mr. President, now that the world has bonded itself to fight against terrorism, it is time for introspection. We owe it to posterity that in this dark hour we shed light on some dangerous and growing trends, misconceptions and misperceptions, which, if not cleared, may lead the world into even greater disorder and disharmony.

The religion of Islam and Muslims in various parts of the world are being held responsible for the trials the world is facing. This point of view is totally misplaced, may I say. Just as all religions teach peace and love for fellow beings, so does Islam place upon its adherence the obligation to do good, to be generous, merciful, kind and just to all fellow beings. The Muslim greeting "As-Salaam Alaikum," meaning peace be upon you, symbolizes the very essence of Islamic faith. Islam is a religion of peace, of compassion and of tolerance.

Terrorism is not a Christian, Buddhist, Jewish or a Muslim belief. It is to be condemned, no matter who the perpetrator, be it an individual, a group, or a state. We need to ask ourselves, "What really causes these extreme acts around the world?" To my mind, it is the unresolved political disputes the world over -- disputes in Bosnia, Kosovo, Palestine, Kashmir and other places.

Muslims 'victims'

Unfortunately, all these disputes involve Muslims. And most heartily, Muslims happen to be the victims in all, which tends to give a religious tinge to these otherwise political disputes. Lack of progress in the resolution of these disputes has created in the Muslims a sense of depravation, a sense of hopelessness, and a sense of powerlessness. The frustration gets even worse when such disputes, like Kashmir and Palestine, which have been subjects of United Nations Security Council resolutions, still remain unresolved.

The question then is whether it is the people asking for their rights, in accordance with United Nations resolutions, who are to be called terrorists, or whether it is a country refusing to implement the United Nations resolutions who are perpetrators of state terrorism. In Kashmir, Indian occupation forces have killed over 75,000 Kashmiris, attributing these killings to foreign terrorists. It is time that India must stop such deceit.

United Nations Security Council resolutions on Kashmir must be implemented. Ladies and gentlemen, the media images of the Palestinian child Mohammed Aldura were etched on the hearts and minds of people all over the world. It is perverse to regard the rape of a Kashmiri woman as a punishment inflicted in the course of war. The images of that moment when the World Trade Center tower came down will also remain definitive for all the agony, for all the disbelief and loss that people suffer from acts of terror all over the world.

All forms of terror must be condemned, prevented and fought against. But in so doing, the world must not trample upon the genuine rights, aspirations and urges of the people who are fighting for their liberation and are subjected to state terrorism.

Take away support

To fight the extremists, deprive him of his motivation. The extremist survives in an environment where millions suffer injustice and indignity. Deprive him of his support by giving the world peace, security, justice and dignity for all peoples, regardless of faith, religion or creed. A just and honorable solution for the people of Kashmir and end to the miseries of the people of Palestine are the major burning issues that have to be addressed vigorously, boldly, imaginatively and, may I say, urgently.

Unless we go to the root causes, cosmetics will only make matters worse. Consider the analogy of a tree. Terrorists are like so many leaves. You take out some. There will be plenty more and an unending growth. Terrorist networks are bunches. You prune, prune a few, and there will be others and more growth. The only way to go is to go for the roots. Eliminate the roots, and there will be no tree.

The roots, Mr. President, are the causes which need to be addressed, tackled, and eliminated fairly, justly and honorably. Give people back their dignity, their self-respect, their honor. In essence, therefore, to tackle the issue of terrorism in its entirety, we need to follow a three-pronged strategy of going for individual terrorists, moving against terrorist organizations and addressing disputes around the world in a just manner.

After the events of 11th of September, Pakistan took a deliberate, principled decision to join the world coalition in its fight against terrorism. The decision has catapulted us once again as a frontline state in the battle against terrorism. While the people of Pakistan have accepted this new reality, they still suffer from a sense of betrayal and abandonment when they were left in the lurch in 1989 after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan. Then also, we were a frontline state. And what we got in return were three million refugees, a shattered economy, guns and clashing of culture, to be faced singlehandedly through our own limited resources.

Pakistan only hopes that the mistakes of the past will not be repeated, and Pakistan's legitimate concerns will be addressed. Our economy again faces a crisis of a fallout of the operation in Afghanistan. We need financial and commercial support on an urgent basis, and hope that this will be forthcoming.

Politics augmenting military might

Mr. President, after 11th of September, Pakistan had been trying its utmost with the Afghan government ever since Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda became an international issue until the last moment to avert military action in Afghanistan. Regrettably, we did not meet with success, and the coalition operation against terrorists in Afghanistan continues with no immediate end in sight.

Sadly enough, the civilian casualties in this action are getting projected more as an open war against the already poor, suffering and innocent people of Afghanistan. The world in general and Pakistan in particular mourns the loss of these innocent lives and sympathizes with the bereaved.

It is desirable that the military operation be as sharp and accurately targeted as possible. It is also essential that (there be) a fallback political strategy ... which could attain the same objectives as being sought through military application. In its entirety, dealing with Afghanistan involves a three-pronged strategy -- the military, the political and humanitarian and rehabilitation strategies. It must remain the effort of the coalition to prevent a vacuum leading to anarchy after achieving military objectives, through immediate application or through an immediate joint application of political and rehabilitation strategies.

In our view, the political checkup in Afghanistan must be home grown and not imposed. And this I say with knowledge of the Afghan psyche. And we have to ensure the unity and territorial integrity of Afghanistan with a broad-based, multi-ethnic dispensation representative of the demographic composition of the country.

The people of Afghanistan have been suffering the ravages and devastation of conflicts for over two decades now. It is the moral obligation of the world community to support them generously. Assistance to Afghanistan should take two forms. Firstly, the ongoing humanitarian assistance; and secondly, the post-military operations, rehabilitation and reconstruction effort.

Humanitarian effort needed

To offset the ill effects of the ongoing military operation, it is imperative that we launch a more coordinated and concerted humanitarian relief effort inside and outside Afghanistan with more generous funding. This will go a long way to alleviate the sufferings of the common Afghan.

It is equally important that concurrently we formulate a post-operation rehabilitation program, once peace returns to Afghanistan. This effort would entail at the minimum restoration of water management systems, reviving of agriculture through land development, reconstruction of physical infrastructure that involves building new utilities and establishment of institutions.

A stable and peaceful Afghanistan is in the vital interest of the region and, in particular, of Pakistan. Conditions must be created for more than three million refugees in Pakistan to return to their country. We propose the establishment of an Afghan trust fund under U.N. auspices for the rehabilitation and reconstruction effort.

Mr. President, I would now like to focus on the harsh realities in the developing countries, which have a relationship with extremism of all forms. Poverty and depravation lead to frustration, making the masses vulnerable to exploitation by extremist organizations. It is the collective moral responsibility of the developed world to address this issue squarely through substantive economic uplift or with alleviation and social action programs in the developing countries.

Economic imbalances have to be removed for a just, equitable and harmonious world order. Immediate steps in this direction would be to reduce, if not eliminate, the debt burden hanging as a millstone around the necks of the poor and the underdeveloped. The bigger tragedy of the third world is that the rulers, together with their minions, plunder the country's wealth and are afforded easy access and safe havens to stash away the loot in the first world. Since long, restrictions have been imposed on laundering of drug money, and recently money for terrorists is being choked. Why can't similar restrictions be imposed on loot money laundering?

Go after 'looters'

I appeal through this forum to all the developed countries to legislate against deposits of ill-gotten money, to assist in investigation against the looters and to ensure the early return of the plundered wealth to the countries of their origin. In fact, I would not be far off the mark if I stated that with the return of this looted money, many of the developing countries may be able to pay back their debts and revive their economies.

Mr. President, Pakistan is deeply conscious of the nuclear dimension of the security environment of our region, the danger it poses and the responsibility it places on nuclear weapons states, particularly the two nuclear states in South Asia. We are ready to discuss how Pakistan and India can create a stable South Asian security mechanism through a peaceful resolution of disputes, preservation of nuclear and conventional balance, confidence-building measures and non-use of force described by the United Nations charter.

In this context, we are ready to discuss nuclear and missile restraints, as well as nuclear risk reduction measures with India in a structured, comprehensive and integrated dialogue. Pakistan is fully alive to the responsibilities of its nuclear assets. We have declared a unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing. Pakistan was not the first to initiate nuclear tests, and will not be the first to resume them. We are ready to formalize a bilateral treaty with India for mutual test ban. We have strengthened our export controls and have established multi-layered custodial controls on all our nuclear assets.

Against an arms race

Let me assure you all that our strategic assets are very well guarded and in very safe hands. We have constantly upgraded our command and control measures, and instituted an elaborate nuclear command control mechanism for ironclad custodial controls to ensure the safety and security of all our assets. Pakistan is opposed to an arms race in South Asia, be it nuclear or conventional. We will maintain deterrence at the minimum level. We want to live in the region with honor and with dignity.

Mr. President, I would now like to very briefly cover the internal developments in Pakistan. Over the past two years, the focus has been on our economic revival, poverty alleviation, improving governance in Pakistan, political restructuring and introducing genuine democracy in the country. We have successfully put in place a sound democratic structure, based on empowerment of the people at the grassroots levels. The revolutionary step has been taken by providing one-third of the seats to women at district-level governing councils.

I want to put on record in this august gathering that Pakistan is proud of this representation and empowerment of women, which is a unique feature in the world. Our resolve of holding elections to the provincial and national assemblies and the Senate in October, 2002 in accordance with the road map announced last August by me will remain unchanged, in spite of the prevailing environment in the region.

Mr. President, in conclusion and in keeping with this time of enormous trials and tribulations we are going through, I wish to make an appeal, an appeal for the sake of mankind, for the sake of our future generations, and for the sake of a better world. Let justice prevail. Let no people be wronged. Let sufferings be eliminated. Let discontent be addressed. Let humanity rise as one nation to eliminate subjugation of the weak, and let there be peace. I thank you, sir.


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