The situation confronting the nation today and the international crisis have impelled me to take the nation into confidence. First of all, I would like to express heartfelt sympathies to the United States for the thousands of valuable lives lost in the United States due to horrendous acts of terrorism.
We are all the more grieved because in this incident people from about 45 countries from all over the world lost their lives. People of all ages old, children, women and people from all and every religion lost their lives. Many Pakistanis also lost their lives. These people were capable Pakistanis who had gone to improve their lives. On this loss of lives I express my sympathies with those families. I pray to Allah to rest their souls in peace.
This act of terrorism has raised a wave of deep grief, anger and retaliation in the United States. Their first target from day one is Osama bin Laden's movement Al-Qaida about which they say that it is their first target. The second target are Taliban and that is because Taliban have given refuge to Osama and his network. This has been their demand for many years. They have been demanding their extradition and presentation before the international court of justice. Taliban have been rejecting this.
The third target is a long war against terrorism at the international level. The thing to ponder is that in these three targets nobody is talking about war against Islam or the people of Afghanistan. Pakistan is being, asked to support this campaign. What is this support? Generally speaking, these are three important things in which America is asking for our help. First is intelligence and information exchange, second support is the use of our airspace and the third is that they are asking for logistic support from us.
I would like to tell you now that they do not have any operational plan right now. Therefore we do not have any details on this count but we know that whatever are the United States' intentions they have the support of the UN Security Council and the General Assembly in the form of a resolution. This is a resolution for war against terrorism and this is a resolution for punishing those people who support terrorism. Islamic countries have supported this resolution. This is the situation as it prevailed in the outside world.
Now I would like to inform you about the internal situation. Pakistan is facing a very critical situation and I believe that after 1971, this is the most critical period. The decision we take today can have far-reaching and wide- ranging consequences. The crisis is formidable and unprecedented. If we take wrong decisions in this crisis, it can lead to worst consequences. On the other hand, if we take right decisions, its results will be good. The negative consequences can endanger Pakistan's integrity and solidarity. Our critical concerns, our important concerns can come under threat. When I say critical concerns, I mean our strategic assets and the cause of Kashmir. If these come under threat it would be a worse situation for us.
On the other hand, we can re-emerge politically as a responsible and dignified nation and all our difficulties can be minimized. I have considered all these factors and held consultations with those who hold different opinions. I met the corps commanders, National Security Council and the Federal Cabinet. I interacted with the media. I invited the religious scholars and held discussions with them. I met politicians. I also invited intellectuals. I will be meeting with the tribal chiefs and Kashmiri leaders tomorrow. This is the same process of consultation that I held earlier. I noted that there was difference of opinion but an overwhelming majority favors patience, prudence and wisdom. Some of them, I think about ten percent favored sentimental approach.
Let us now take a look at the designs of our neighboring country. They offered all their military facilities to the United States. They have offered without hesitation, all their facilities, all their bases and full logistic support. They want to enter into any alliance with the Unites States and get Pakistan declared a terrorist state. They want to harm our strategic assets and the Kashmir cause.
Not only this, recently certain countries met in Dushanbe. India was one of them. Indian representative was there. What do the Indians want? they do not have common borders with Afghanistan anywhere. It is totally isolated from Afghanistan. In my view, it would not be surprising, that the Indians want to ensure that if and when the government in Afghanistan changes, it shall be an anti-Pakistan government. It is very important that while the entire world is talking about this horrible terrorist attack, our neighboring country instead of talking peace and cooperation, was trying hard to harm Pakistan and defame Islam. If you watch their television, you will find them dishing out propaganda against Pakistan, day in and day out. I would like to tell India "Lay Off".
Pakistan's armed forces and every Pakistani citizen is ready to offer any sacrifice in order to defend Pakistan and secure its strategic assets. Make no mistake and entertain no misunderstanding. At this very moment our Air Force is at high alert; and they are ready for "Do or die" Missions
My countrymen! In such a situation, a wrong decision can lead to unbearable losses. What are our critical concerns and priorities? These are four;
- First of all is the security of the country and external threat.
- Second is our economy and its revival.
- Third are our strategic nuclear and missile assets.
- And Kashmir cause.
The four are our critical concerns. Any wrong judgement on our part can damage all our interests. While taking a decision, we have to keep in mind all these factors. The decision should reflect supremacy of righteousness and it should be in conformity with Islam. Whatever we are doing, it is according to Islam and it upholds the principle of righteousness. I would like to say that decisions about the national interests should be made with wisdom and rational judgement.
At this moment, it is not the question of bravery or cowardice. We are all very brave. My own response in such situations is usually of daring. But bravery without rational judgement tantamount to stupidity. There is no clash between bravery and sound judgement. Allah Almighty says in the holy Quran, "The one bestowed with sagacity is the one who get a big favor from Allah". We have to take recourse to sanity. We have to save our nation from damage. We have to build up; our national respect. "Pakistan comes first, everything else comes later".
Some scholars and religious leaders are inclined towards taking emotional decisions. I would like to remind them the events of the first six years of the history of Islam. The Islamic calendar started from migration. The significance of migration is manifested from the fact that the Holy Prophet (PBUH) went from Makkah to Madina. He (PBUH) migrated to safeguard Islam. What was migration? God forbid, was it an act of cowardice? The Holy Prophet (PBUH) signed the charter of Madinah (Meesaq-e-Madinah) with the Jewish tribes. It was an act of sagacity. This treaty remained effective for six years. Three battles were fought with non-believers of Makkiah during this period - the battle of Badr, Uhad and Khandaq. The Muslims emerged victorious in these battles with the non-believers of Makkah because the Jews had signed a treaty with the Muslims.
After six years, the Jews were visibly disturbed with the progress of Islam, which was getting stronger and stronger. They conspired to forge covert relations with the non-believers of Makkah. Realizing the danger, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) signed the treaty of Hudaibiya with the Makkhans who had been imposing wars on Islam. This was a no war pact. I would like to draw your attention to one significant point of this pact. The last portion of the pact was required to be signed by the Holy Prophet (PBUH) as Muhammad Rasool Allah. The non-believers contested that they did not recognize Muhammad (PBUH) as the Prophet of Allah. They demanded to erase these words from the text of the treaty. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) agreed but Hazrat Umar (R.A) protested against it. He got emotional and asked the Holy Prophet (PBUH) if he was not the messenger of God (God forbid) and whether the Muslims were not on the right path while signing the treaty.
The Holy Prophet (PBUH) advised Hazrat Umar (R.A) not to be led by emotions as the dictates of national thinking demanded signing of the treaty at that time. He (PBUH) said, this was advantageous to Islam and as years would pass by you would come to know of its benefits. "This is exactly what happened. Six months later in the battle of Khyber, Muslims, by the grace of Allah, again became victorious. It should be remembered that this became possible because Makkhans could not attack because of the treaty. On 8 Hijra by the grace of Allah glory of Islam spread to Makkah.
What is the lesson for us in this? The lesson is that when there is a crisis situation, the path of wisdom is better than the path of emotions. Therefore, we have to take a strategic decision. There is no question of weakness of faith or cowardice. For Pakistan, life can be sacrificed and I am sure every Pakistani will give his life for Pakistan. I have fought two wars. I have seen dangers.I faced them and by the grace of Allah never committed a cowardly act. But at this time one should not bring harm to the country. We cannot make the future of a hundred and forty million people bleak. Even otherwise it is said in Shariah that if there are two difficulties at a time and a selection has to be made it is better to opt for the lesser one.
Some of our friends seem to be much worried about Afghanistan. I must tell them that I and my government are much more worried about Afghanistan and Taliban. I have done everything for Afghanistan and Taliban when the entire world is against them. I have met about twenty to twenty five world leaders and talked to each of them in favor of the Taliban. I have told them that sanctions should not be imposed on Afghanistan and that we should engage them. I have been repeating this stance before all leaders but I am sorry to say that none of our friends accepted this.
Even in this situation, we are trying our best to cooperate with them. I sent Director General ISI with my personal letter to Mullah Umar. He returned after spending two days there. I have informed Mullah Umar about the gravity of the situation. We are trying our best to come out of this critical situation without any damage to Afghanistan and Taliban. This is my earnest endeavor and with the blessings of Allah I will continue to seek such a way out.
We are telling the Americans too that they should be patient. Whatever their plans, they should be cautious and balanced: We are asking them to come up with whatever evidence they have against Osama bin Laden; What I would like to know is how do we save Afghanistan and Taliban. And how do we ensure that they suffer minimum losses: I am sure that you will favor that we do so and bring some improvement by working with the nations of the world. At this juncture, I am worried about Pakistan only.
I am the Supreme Commander of Pakistan and I give top priority to the defense of Pakistan, Defense of any other country comes later. We want to take decisions in the interest of Pakistan. I know that the majority of the people favor our decisions. I also know that some elements are trying to take unfair advantage of the situation and promote their personal agenda and advance the interests of their parties. They are poised to create dissentions and damage the country. There is no reason why this minority should be allowed to hold the sane majority as a hostage. I appeal to all Pakistanis to display unity and solidarity and foil the nefarious designs of such elements who intend to harm the interests of the country.
At this critical juncture, we have to frustrate the evil designs of our enemies and safeguard national interests. Pakistan is considered a fortress of Islam. God forbid, if this fortress is harmed in any way it would cause damage to the cause of Islam. My dear countrymen, Have trust in me the way you reposed trust in me before going to Agra. I did not disappoint the nation there. We have not compromised on national honor and integrity and I shall not disappoint you on this occasion either. This is firm pledge to you.
In the end before I take your leave, I would like to end with the prayer of Hazrat Musa [Prophet Moses] as given in Sura-e-Taha: "May Allah open my chest, make my task easier, untie my tongue so that they may comprehend my intent".
May Allah be with us in our endeavors.