We at PTH are not fans of General Musharraf or any military dictator. However, there was a time when a lot of well meaning people – including key sections of the civil society, select stalwarts of the lawyers’ movement, to name a few – had put their faith in General Musharraf to turn back the clock on extremism and fanaticism in Pakistan. At that time General Musharraf appeared to many as a leader cut from a different cloth than the previous military dictators. It was thought that here was a man who was going to finally take Pakistan in the direction of a modern state. He promised Jinnah’s Pakistan i.e. a secular state built upon an inclusive and tolerant albeit Muslim society working towards the benefit of the people. On June 5, 2001, Musharraf addressed a the largest conference of the holiest of holy in Pakistan, the Ulema (religious leaders) and Mashaikh at a religious conference which bears repetition for being important words spoken- at least by any military dictator- even if they came from someone who later negated everything he said. We quote here excerpts from his address which makes us wonder how a man of such courage could have gone so terribly wrong.
By General Pervez Musharraf
Where do we stand and which way are we going? We say Islam is a Deen. It is no mere religion. It provides guidance to us in all walks of life. And because of this we claim it is superior to all other faiths. But how do we actually conduct ourselves in life? Look at Muslims everywhere and in Pakistan, too! Is this what our Deen teaches us?
We say Islam is for all times to come because as a Deen it relates to practical life. But how does the world look at us? The world sees us as backward and constantly going under. Is there any doubt that we have been left behind although we claim Islam will carry us forward in every age, every circumstance, in every land.
‘Islam is vibrant and forward-looking. But more than that we claim it is the most tolerant of faiths. How does the world judge our claim? It looks upon us as terrorists. We have been killing each other and now we want to spread that violence and terror abroad. Naturally the world regards us as terrorists. Our claim of tolerance is phoney in its eyes…… It is time we took stock of our position
We have no right to tell anybody that he is bad and we are good, that we are on the right path and he is on the wrong. Nobody has this right.
here do we see justice and equity? Do you see it? In Pakistan? Where? Look at the performance of the judiciary. Corruption is rampant and misdemeanours the order of the day. Only ‘sifarish’ works. Merit has no taker. The poor are oppressed. To be poor in Pakistan is a curse…. And let us not talk of character. Can we discover it anywhere amongst us? Are we honest and truthful? If we had been so our country would not be where it stands today.
‘Pakistan does not live in a void. It is a part of the globe. The world has actually turned into a global village. No country can live in isolation or stand alone. For progress and development, each country must interact with others.
Unfortunately we are weak because of the causes I have already mentioned. We do not suffer from built-in weaknesses. We have all the resources to develop. We ourselves are responsible for our weaknesses. As we are weak, we have to keep in step with other countries. First acquire strength, only then can you tell others to fall in step with you. We are in no position to dictate to others. Common sense demands that first you attain the position from where you can ask others to follow the path you are treading. If you make a premature attempt you will be crushed and further weakened.
Seventy per cent of the world’s energy resources are in Muslim countries. But our GDP, of the entire Muslim Ummah, comes to barely 12 to 13 billion dollars. On the other hand, Japan’s GDP stands at 5,500 billion and Germany’s at 2,500 billion dollars. In other words, Germany’s GDP is twice that of the entire Ummah and Japan’s four and a half times, though we are one-fourth of the world’s population sitting on 70 per cent of its energy resources.
Why is this so? An analysis tells us that it is all because of a difference in the advancement of human quality, of environmental development. Other countries have swept forward. Just take education. In the entire Muslim world there are some 380 universities of which only 25 are of a world ranking. In Japan 1000 universities award PhD degrees. The entire Muslim Ummah can boast of a total of 500 PhDs. In England, each year 3000 PhDs are awarded and in India 5000. It is this that should engage our attention. When we make an assertion we must have strength to back it up. Wisdom dictates that we should first acquire strength, come out on top, and then talk.
Our first priority is to improve the law and order situation. Unless foreign investors come in, and our own people make investments, we cannot make any economic headway. So far they have not done so, neither foreign nor indigenous investment has taken place. I confess our government has failed in this. We have to induce investment… Undoubtedly, law and order is an important factor which inhibits investment. Nobody will invest where there is a fear of losing. An investor firstly looks at the conditions pertaining in a country, particularly at law and order….
Religious and sectarian harmony is therefore an inescapable necessity in Pakistan. It will unite us and bring stability. Only that will attract others to come to Pakistan. On a recent visit, a Chinese minister remarked that investment is like a sparrow. It flies out as a flock of pigeons but returns one by one. So this sparrow will come to us one by one. We are trying to attract it by throwing seeds of incentive before it and I ask you to lend us a helping hand.
We provoke each other through meaningless statements. We can improve the law and order situation by merely holding our tongues. If we become a tolerant society where people with different outlooks can live peacefully, investors will come.
One hears the boast that ‘we will hoist our flag on the Red Fort’ in Delhi, that we will do this, and do that. Have you ever thought of the consequences of such talk on the Muslims of India? Some have come to meet me and they have told me of the repercussions our loose tongues have on their position…
It provides India with the excuse to call you terrorists and for others to declare you as such, so that prospective investors stay far away from your country. When you go around killing each other, who can consider Pakistan a safe place for investment.
Above all, religion should never be exploited for political gains. Do not sully our glorious faith. I say this to all those who are guilty of it.