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Musharraf's Jan 12 speech

Following is the English rendering of President General Pervez Musharraf's address to the nation on Saturday Jan 12, 2002:

india Updated: May 21, 2003 10:50 IST

I begin in the name of God the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful Pakistani Brothers and Sisters! As you would remember, eversince I assumed office, I launched a campaign to rid the society of extremism, violence and terrorism and strived to project Islam in its true perspective. In my first speech on October 17, 1999, I had said and I quote; "Islam teaches tolerance, not hatred; universal brotherhood, not enmity; peace, and not violence. I have a great respect for the Ulema and expect them to come forward and present Islam in its true light. I urge them to curb elements which are exploiting religion for vested interests and bringing a bad name to our faith".

After this, I initiated a number of steps in this regard. First, in the year 2000, I started interacting with the Taliban and counselled them to inculcate tolerance and bring moderation in their ways. I also told them that those terrorists who were involved in terrorist acts in Pakistan and seeking refuge in Afghanistan should be returned to us. Unfortunately, we did not succeed.

In the year 2001, I think it was January, we sealed the Pak-Afghan borders and I gave directions that no students of any Madarissah (religious seminaries) should be allowed to cross into Afghanistan without relevant documents. After this, I despatched a number of delegations to meet Mulla Omar.I continued to advise them tolerance and balance. Later, on February 15, 2001, we promulgated the Anti-Weaponisation Ordinance. Through this law, we launched a de-weaponisation campaign in Pakistan.

On 8th of June, on the occasion of the Seerat Conference, I addressed Ulema belonging to all Schools of thought and spoke firmly to them against religious extremism. On the 14th of August 2001, we finally took a very important decision to ban Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Muhammad and placed Sipah-e-Sahaba and TJP (Tehrik-e-Jafria Pakistan) under observation. In addition, on a number of occasions, I called Ulema and Mashaikh and held extensive consultations with them. The objective was to take them on board in our campaign against terrorism and extremism. These measures have been continuing since our government assumed office in 1999. I am explaining all this to you in great detail only because of the fact that the campaign against extremism undertaken by us from the very beginning is in our own national interest. We are not doing this under advice or pressure from anyone. Rather, we are conscious that it is in our national interest. We are conscious that we need to rid society of extremism and this is being done right from the beginning. This domestic reforms process was underway when a terrorist attack took place against the United States on the 11th of September. This terrorist act led to momentous changes all over the world. We decided to join the international coalition against terrorism and in this regard I have already spoken to you on a number of occasions. We took this decision on principles and in our national interest.

By the grace of Allah Almighty our decision was absolutely correct. Our intentions were noble and God Almighty helped us. I am happy to say that the vast majority of Pakistanis stood by this decision and supported our decision. I am proud of the realistic decision of our nation. What really pains me is that some religious extremist parties and groups opposed this decision. What hurt more was that their opposition was not based on principles. At a critical juncture in our history, they preferred their personal and party interests over national interests.

They tried their utmost to mislead the nation, took out processions and resorted to agitation. But their entire efforts failed.

The people of Pakistan frustrated their designs. As I have said, I am proud of the people of Pakistan who support correct decisions and do not pay heed to those who try to mislead them. I have interacted with the religious scholars on a number of occasions and exchanged views with them. I am happy to say that our discussions have been very fruitful. A majority of them are blessed with wisdom and vision and they do not mix religion with politics.

Some extremists, who were engaged in protests, are people who try to monopolise and attempt to propagate their own brand of religion.

They think as if others are not Muslims. These are the people who considered the Taliban to be a symbol of Islam and that the Taliban were bringing Islamic rennaissance or were practising the purest form of Islam.

They behaved as if the Northern Alliance, against whom the Taliban were fighting, were non-Muslims! Whereas, in fact, both were Muslims and believers. These extremists were those people who do not talk of "Haqooqul Ibad" (obligations towards fellow human beings).

They do not talk of these obligations because practising them demands self-sacrifice. How will they justify their Pajeros and expensive vehicles? I want to ask these extremists as to who was responsible for misleading thousands of Pakistanis to their massacre in Afghanistan? These misled people were let down by the very people in whose support they had gone. All of us should learn a lesson from this. We must remember that we are Pakistanis. Pakistan is our identity, our motherland. We will be aliens outside Pakistan and be treated as aliens. Pakistan is our land. It is our soil. If we forsake it, we will face difficulties. This lesson we must learn.

Sectarian terrorism has been going on for years. Everyone of us is fed up of it. It is becoming unbearable. Our peace-loving people are keen to get rid of the Klashinkov and weapon culture. Every one is sick of it. It was because of this that we banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Muhammad.

First Published: May 21, 2003 10:44 IST