Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Washington File

26 June 2003

President Musharraf Seeks Enlightened, Moderate Pakistan

(Cites democracy, economic development, and strong U.S. relations as
top priorities.) (1120)
By Lauren Brodsky
Washington File Staff Writer
Washington -- In his June 25 address to the U.S. Institute of Peace,
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf outlined his goals for the future
of Pakistan: a country at peace, strengthened by democracy, with
economic development, and a strong friendship with the United States.
According to President Musharraf, U.S.-Pakistani relations are on an
upswing. "I believe our two countries, which have been friends for so
long despite a number of ups and downs in the relationship, are on the
point of moving towards a new level of friendship and cooperation," he
said.
The Pakistani president attributed this strengthened bond to his
country's commitment to the international war on terrorism. "If Al
Qaeda today is only a shadow of its past, it is because of our
contribution," he said.
Within his own borders, President Musharraf said he seeks to root out
terrorism and extremism and create a new political landscape of
"enlightened moderation" for Pakistan.
"This vision is based on economic transformation through raising
growth rates and educational levels, poverty reduction through a range
of empowering strategies for women, minorities and vulnerable segments
of society, and through foreign direct investment," he explained.
He envisions "a working democracy, an economically thriving civil
society, the rule of law and respect for fundamental freedoms and
human rights," he said.
The status of world affairs and the sentiment that "the world has
become a dangerous place to live in" has also shaped his vision.
Expressing concern that most political disputes in the world involve
Muslims, he outlined the damaging effects of this trend. "Muslims
believe they are targeted and non-Muslims have started to see Islam as
a religion of intolerance and terrorism," he said. However, "both are
wrong."
In order to heal this "schism," Musharraf argued that the Muslim world
must fight extremism and "raise our own levels" of education and
development. "This is the way Muslims can emancipate themselves," he
argued.
On the other hand, he urged the West to understand how many Muslims
feel alienated by their perception of U.S. foreign policy. Many
Muslims believe the U.S. only addresses "the symptoms of terror," he
explained. Therefore, Musharraf called for a "resolution of political
disputes led by the developed world" to ensure "despair and anger do
not fester into extremism, violence and terror."
"The Middle East road map and the recently concluded Aqaba Summit are
in this respect a welcome ray of hope," he said.
Musharraf also argued that the situation in Afghanistan must be
improved by the west to secure peace and root out terrorism.
Therefore, "the stability of the Karzai government must be supported,"
he said.
Turning towards Pakistan's conflict with India, Musharraf noted
positive steps in resolving the Kashmir dispute. "I have suggested a
full peace process," he said.
"I am extremely encouraged by [Indian] Prime Minister Vajpayee's
recent statements and by the telephone talk between him and
[Pakistani] Prime Minister Jamali," he said. "This has led to a number
of measures to reduce tension and restore a measure of normalcy."
Musharraf believes the road to peace with India is through a four-step
process, beginning with "acknowledging the centrality of Jammu and
Kashmir for India-Pakistan relations," followed by a concentration on
a range of possible "win-win" outcomes that would be acceptable to
both people and "particularly to the people of Jammu and Kashmir."
The president said he now looks to India to take a historic step. "The
onus of accommodation is always shown by the bigger country," he
explained. While Pakistan remains committed to a peace process,
Musharraf said he will only make concessions that preserve Pakistan's
"honor and dignity."
President Musharraf also commended the United States for its
involvement in Indian-Pakistani relations, and its willingness to
remain open to "the dialogue process at any mutually acceptable
level."
Beyond resolving the dispute with India, Musharraf explained that his
primary goal for Pakistan is creating a "working democracy" that will
support freedom and human rights.
However, the president acknowledged challenges to democracy within his
own borders. "There are anti-democratic forces waiting to take
advantage of the democratic process to undo reforms and restructuring
[that] my government has introduced during the last three years," he
said. Therefore to secure his democratic initiatives, the president
intends to "have an oversight role" to defend against anti-democratic
factions.
He sited the success of women in office as proof positive that both
women and democracy can thrive in Pakistan. "The whole spectrum of
political opinion in Pakistan is represented in parliament," he said.
"We have almost 200 women members of parliament at the federal and
provincial levels and thousands more at the local level." In order to
gain power and involvement, Musharraf recommended that women form
caucuses and support each other.
Musharraf said he believes that his initiatives have won the support
of the Pakistani people. When he took office in 1999, the economy was
in a state of bankruptcy and Pakistan "stood at the brink of being
declared a failed state," he explained.
He believes his country is now on course for a "long journey" ahead.
However, he argued that foreign assistance is still desperately
needed. "We need substantial flows of foreign investment, management
and technology to transform our economy," he said. Pakistan, he said,
is seeking "a broad-based multi-year package of assistance."
Musharraf also reached out to the Pakistani community in the U.S. and
said it "has the potential to build bridges between the two
countries."
However, Musharraf expressed his concern that Pakistanis continue to
be the target of suspicion within the U.S. since the September 11,
2001 terrorist attacks. "Pakistan has cooperated with the U.S. in
enforcing its laws," he said. "But Pakistanis who have been successful
are compelled to leave the U.S. This is really heartbreaking."
Musharraf said he feels this trend can change due to his relationship
with President Bush. He described Bush as "an equally candid man and
an equally sincere friend of Pakistan" who "sees this issue in a
similar light."
As part of his fourth visit to the United States, Musharraf said he
"sought to consolidate and deepen the ties" between the U.S. and
Pakistan, as well as to "reaffirm our cooperation in the war on
terror." This commitment, he said, will foster a world "free of
repression, dispossession and hopelessness," a vision not only for the
world, but also for Pakistan.
(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International
Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:
http://usinfo.state.gov)



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