President Pervez Musharraf address to the Nation

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President General Pervez Musharraf addressed the Pakistani nation in an hour-long talk on 12th January 2002. The long awaited speech of the President attracted a great deal of national and international attention. President Pervez Musharraf in a bold and straight talk addressed all the contentious issues, denounced religious extremism and sent a strong message across the border. The President also took the nation into confidence over the tough measures being adopted by the government in line with its policy of curbing extremism and militancy.

In view of the present tense situation between India and Pakistan President Musharraf clearly warned India that any attempt at crossing the border in any area would be met with full force .He said that the armed forces of Pakistan are fully prepared and deployed to defend their homeland, and would spill the last of their blood in the defense of their country. The President also made it clear to India that the Indian demand of handing over 20 alleged terrorists would not be met, and that Pakistan would not hand over to India any Pakistani national. He said that any body found involved in terrorism would be tried in Pakistan according to Pakistani law. President Musharraf took a very clear stand on the Kashmir issue .He said that Kashmir runs in our blood therefore there would be no compromise on Kashmir. He said that Pakistan would continue to extend all political, diplomatic, and moral support to the people of occupied Kashmir. He called on the international community and in particular on the United States, to play an active role in resolving the Kashmir dispute. General Musharraf called on the US to force India to stop state terrorism in occupied Kashmir and gross human rights violations there, which were being voiced by international institution and NG0s.

The President also condemned terrorism in all forms and manifestations. He condemned the October 1, September 11 and December 13 attacks. He said that his government right from the very beginning had started taking measures to discourage violence and terrorism. A de-weaponization campaign was started and two militant organizations were banned last year on 14th August. All these steps were taken with out any pressure and in the larger national interest. The President with a view of further cleaning the society of terrorism, sectarian violence and intolerance announced the decision of banning five militant groups including Lashkar-e-Taiba, Sipah-e-Sahba Pakistan, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Tehrike-Jafria Pakistan and Tehrik-e-Shariat-e-Mohammad, taking the number of banned militant religious parties to seven. The Sunni Tehrik was put under observation. The President also unfolded future rules of behavior: any mosque and religious school would be established only after obtaining a no objection certificate, the madaris would impart scientific along with religious education, restricted use of loud speakers for Friday Khutbas and Waaz only, and all parties were disallowed the use of mosques or Madaris for political purposes, fanning sectarian hatred or any thing which challenged the writ of the government. In order to establish the writ of the government and to bring to justice the anti social elements, the president called on the police and the judiciary to play their due roles. He further announced the decision to establish speedy trail courts and to bring to justice those involved in terrorism and sectarian killings.

The address of President Musharraf is being widely welcomed. The American Secretary of State, Colin Powell welcomed President Musharraf’s explicit statements against terrorism and welcomed Pakistan pledge not to tolerate terrorism under any pretext. Powell said that the speech provided the basis for resolving tensions with India through diplomatic means. The Indian government also welcomed the actions taken by the Pakistani government. Mr. Jaswant Singh in response to Musharraf speech said that India remained committed to bilateral dialogue with Pakistan, but again ruled out any third-party mediation in the dispute.

General Musharraf strategy to make it clear to the world through his strongly worded speech that Pakistan would not tolerate violence and terrorism and meant business in eliminating terrorism was a step in the right direction. Although numerous measures have been introduced for curbing extremism and militancy but the most important thing is their right implementation, which would be the major task before the present government.