Address by
H.E. General Pervez Musharraf
President of Pakistan
at the 57th Session of the UN General Assembly
(12 September 2002)

Mr. President,

Mr. Secretary-General,

Ladies and Gentlemen!

I extend to you, Mr. President, my felicitations on your election. I also congratulate your predecessor, Dr.Seung-Soo Han, for his able stewardship of the preceding session of the General Assembly.

We commend Secretary-General Kofi Annan for his commitment and dedicated efforts in the pursuit of the Charter's purposes and principles.

I congratulate Switzerland and East Timor on their admission to membership of the United Nations.

Mr. President,

Last year," this Assembly met under the shadow of the terrorist attacks on New York, our host city. The horror, of that day galvanized the international community to combat this modern day evil, which threatens to destabilize our societies.

Pakistan is in the forefront of the fight against terrorism. We have made major sacrifices in this war. We have interdicted infiltration by Al-Qaeda into Pakistan. We have arrested and deported foreign suspects found on our territory. We are determined not to allow anyone to use our soil for terrorist acts inside or outside Pakistan.

However, Mr. President, unfortunately some quarters are utilizing the war against terrorism as a vehicle to spread hatred against Islam and Muslims. Terrorism has no creed, nor a religion. In our globalizing world, religious and cultural diversity should, be a vehicle for complementary creativity and dynamism, not the rationale for a new ideological or political confrontation. A sustained dialogue between the Islamic and Western nations is essential to remove the veil of ignorance and prejudice and to promote harmony and cooperation. As a first step, I propose that the General Assembly consider the adoption of a Declaration on Religious and Cultural Understanding, Harmony and Cooperation.

Mr. President, there is need to address the root causes of terrorism. It is not religion, which impels a terrorist act; it is often a sense of frustration and powerlessness to redress persistent injustice. When a people, right to self-determination and freedom are brutally suppressed by foreign occupation; they can be expected to resist this by all means at their disposal. Terrorist attacks must be condemned. But acts of terrorism by individuals or groups cannot be the justification to outlaw the just struggle of a people for self-determination and liberation from colonial or foreign occupation. Nor can it justify state terrorism.

Misusing the rationale of war against terrorism, India has sought to de-legitimize the Kashmiri freedom struggle, tarnish Pakistan with the brush of terrorism and drive a wedge between it and its coalition partners. Boasting of its coercive capability, India has deployed about a million troops in battle formation against Pakistan. Such threatening and aggressive posturing will not resolve disputes. We cannot be coerced or frightened into compromising our principled position on Kashmir.

The conflict in occupied Kashmir is being waged by the Kashmiris. No amount of external assistance could have inspired the Kashmiri people to sacrifice the lives of 80,000 of their youth and to sustain their struggle for decades against India's occupation army.

India's planned elections in Kashmir will once again be rigged. Such elections, under Indian occupation, will not help peace; they may set it back. The people of Jammu & Kashmir must be allowed to exercise their right to determine their own future in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council.

Despite India's provocations and threats over the past year, Pakistan has acted with restraint and responsibility. We have advanced several peace proposals. They have been spurned by India. Let me declare from this rostrum: Pakistan will not start a conflict with India. But if war is thrust upon us we shall exercise our right to self-defense fully and effectively.

With nuclear weapons now in the possession of both countries, it is small wonder that people describe South Asia as "the most dangerous place on Earth." Today, peace in South Asia is hostage to one accident, one act of terrorism, one strategic miscalculation by India.

In this dangerous situation, crisis management cannot afford to become a substitute for conflict resolution. The steps required to avoid a conflict and advance peace are clear:

Mutual withdrawal of forward deployed forces by both States;
Observance of a cease-fire along the Line of Control in Kashmir; and
Cessation of India's state terrorism against the Kashmiri people.

Simultaneously, a dialogue must be resumed between India and Pakistan. The structure for such a dialogue was agreed between Prime Minister Vajpayee and myself at Agra. The Kashmiris should be fully associated with the dialogue on Kashmir and should be allowed to travel freely to Pakistan and Azad Kashmir.

To ensure sustainable peace and stability in South Asia, a Kashmir solution should be accompanied by agreed measures for nuclear restraint and a conventional arms balance between India and Pakistan. India's ongoing massive military build up reflects its known desire for domination over South Asia and the Indian Ocean. In the interest of regional and global stability, this must be discouraged.

Mr. President,

India's belligerence also reflects the chauvinistic ideology of the Hindu extremist parties and organizations. Rising Hindu fanaticism in India has targeted Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and even the even the scheduled caste Hindus. Last February, an estimated 2000 innocent Muslims were massacred in Gujrat with the complicity of BJP State leaders. There must be accountability for this massacre. The international community must act to oppose Hindu extremism with the same determination it displayed in combating terrorism, religious bigotry, ethnic cleansing and fascist tendencies elsewhere.

Even as Hindu fundamentalism is rising in India, Pakistan is waging a successful struggle to restore its traditions of a tolerant Islam. We are acting vigorously to eradicate the sad legacy of the Afghanistan war: religious extremism, drugs and guns.

We are determined to transform into reality the vision of our Founding Father, the Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah: for a progressive, modern, democratic, Islamic State. We wish to play a constructive role in promoting peace and prosperity in South Asia, Central Asia and the Gulf region.

In three short years, my government has laid the foundations for sustainable development and sustainable democracy in Pakistan.

We have:

Empowered the people by devolving decisionmaking to the grassroots;
Improved human rights, virtually eliminated exploitive child labor and empowered women;
We have rationalized economic policies and, despite internal and external shocks, set Pakistan on the path of sustained growth.

Pakistan has become the first country to set up a Human Development Fund with the collaboration of UNDP and a National Volunteers Corps for the achievement of the Millennium goals of poverty alleviation and Human development

In' 30 days, we will hold national and provincial elections, completing the process of restoring democracy in Pakistan.

Mr. President,

We are happy with the positive changes in Afghanistan, after two decades of conflict. We fully support President Hamid Karzai. We appreciate the efforts of the Secretary-General and his Special Representative, Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi, to bring hope and peace to the long-suffering Afghan people. We believe that faithful implementation of the Bonn process and the Tokyo commitments is essential for success. Ensuring credible security in Kabul and other centers through an expanded international presence is paramount. This was brought home by the attempt, a few days ago, to assassinate President Karzai. Reconstruction of Afghanistan through early release of funds agreed in the Tokyo commitment is essential for strengthening the central government as well as for peace and security in Afghanistan.

The international community must urgently revive the Middle East peace process to realize a comprehensive and just peace on the basis of the resolutions of the Security Council and the principle of land for peace.

Pakistan supports the full and faithful implementation of all Security Council Resolutions.

Mr. President,

In our globalizing yet divided world, the most important war we must fight is the war against poverty. The objectives of this "war" have been identified - at the Millennium Summit, in Doha, Monterrey and Johannesburg. We must implement the commitments made in an integrated and coherent manner.

A pernicious aspect of the international Banking system is the stashing away, in secret accounts, of illegally acquired money by corrupt elite from developing to developed countries. An international regime to interdict and return illegally acquired wealth to developing countries is indispensable for the success of a North-South partnership and will make a genuine contribution to reduction of corruption in developing countries and to poverty alleviation.

Mr. President,

Despite current differences among governments, people both from rich and poor nations, are beginning to embrace universal values and common goals: avoiding war; ending poverty, hunger, disease, discrimination and human rights violations; promoting democracy; sharing technology; creating decent work for all; and protecting the environment.

We must capture this growing spirit of global humanism to advance the quest for global prosperity and universal peace. This can be accomplished only at and by the United Nations. This is the central purpose, the reason for the existence, of this Organization.

Our decisions and actions today will shape events of the future. We must rid ourselves of forces of intolerance and radicalism. We have to create a safer world for our future generations - a world of peace and conciliation, not one of conflict and tension.

I thank you, Mr. President.