H.E. Mr. Asif Ali Zardari, President
25 September 2008
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ASIF ALI SARDARI, President of Pakistan, said he came before the Assembly in the name of his late wife, Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, and “as a victim of terrorism representing a nation that is a victim of terrorism”.
“I am a grieving husband, who has seen the mother of my children give her life fighting the menace of terrorism and fanaticism that haunt the entire civilized world,” he said. He was here in her place, as the elected President of a democratic country who had received a 75 per cent mandate of its Parliament and assemblies, which had been a vote of confidence in her and in the “Bhutto Doctrine”.
A United Nations resolution, passed 11 months after the first attack on his wife, which called for an inquiry into that crime against humanity, had thus far been ineffective, he said. Pakistan still did not know which forces and institutions had been involved in the murder of his wife, and an investigation would reassure Pakistanis that the United Nations Charter was “more than just rhetoric”.
The “Bhutto Doctrine of Reconciliation” presented a dual mission of combating dictatorship and terrorism, and promoting social and economic reform, as well as justice, he explained. Benazir Bhutto had understood that democracy was not an end, but a beginning, and that a father who could not support his family was “someone ripe for extremism”. The Doctrine was a road map to a new Pakistan, and an era of peace and cooperation between East and West, among all faiths. Invoking the Marshall Plan, he said the Doctrine placed as its centre an economically viable Pakistan that would allow for the victory of pluralism over terrorism.
If Al-Qaida and the Taliban believed that by silencing his wife that they were silencing her message, they were very wrong, he stressed. Pakistan would fight against all terrorists who attacked it, and those who used its territory to plan attacks against its neighbours, or anywhere in the world. With last week’s suicide truck bomb that destroyed a building “a stone’s throw” from his office, Pakistan was once again the great victim in the war on terror, and once again, its people wondered whether they stood alone. The country had lost more soldiers than all 37 countries with forces in Afghanistan put together.
Recalling that today’s terrorism could be traced to a war among the super-Powers in Afghanistan in the 1980s, he said Pakistan had been left with 3 million refugees, whose camps had soon become breeding grounds for violence. The West’s departure had eventually given rise to the birth of Al-Qaida and the “Talibanization” of Afghanistan. Yet, “we are not victims”, he said, and Pakistan’s future would not be dictated by those who defied the laws of Islam for sordid political goals.
Fighting terrorism required political will, popular mobilization and a socio-economic strategy that won the hearts and minds of nations, he said, adding that unilateral actions of great Powers should not inflame passions of allies. Only a democratic Government could win this war. “Yes, this is our war, but we need international support -– moral, political and economic,” he said, asking the Assembly whether it would stand with his country.
He said there were two “great battles” before mankind: that for democracy and liberty against authoritarians and dictators, and another that would determine the course of the new millennium: the battle against extremism and terrorism. The outcomes would determine whether the “noble experiment” embodied in the United Nations would succeed or fail. It was time for the world to take notice: Pakistan was not the cause of terrorism -- it was its victim, and he called for the developed world “to step up to the plate and help us”, and in turn, help itself.
In closing, he said his nine years of unjust imprisonment had hardened his resolve to fight for democracy and justice. Pakistan would prove wrong all the negative predictions about its future, and show the way in building a future for its people.