Address of Ms Benazir Bhutto
Mohtarma Bhutto addresses Woodrow Wilson Centre
by Ms Benazir Bhutto
at Woodrow Wilson Centre, Washington DC
Ladies and Gentlemen:
As part of the effort to build a safer world, the Pakistan Peoples Party has been calling for normalization of relations with India.
In the context of Indo Pak relations, some believe that tension can only be reduced when both countries are truly democracies. I agree with that. Democracies do not go to war against other democracies. Indo Pak history proves this. Since the two countries won Independence in 1947, the three Indo-Pak wars that took place were under military dictatorships.
And since the destabilization of the democratic government that I led in 1996, India and Pakistan came close to war three times.
As a witness to the historic Simla Agreement, the agreement which prevented full fledged war between our countries since 1971, my Party and I are committed to the Peace process between our countries. It is this commitment which led the PPP and myself to welcome talks between New Delhi and Islamabad despite the military dictatorship in my country.
However, we do not believe General Musharaf has a vision for peace. He is a tactical leader who engages in short-term somersaults. His action are to relieve momentary pressures. As soon as the pressure is off, he goes back to his basic nature.
This is true of his actions relating to India, Taliban, the banning of militant groups and the regulations of political Madrassas.
It is the PPP which has the singular honour of making a breakthrough on Siachin during Indo Pak talks in 1989. It is the architect of the policy of soft borders on the disputed territories enunciated in 1999.
This policy flowed from a policy review undertaken after the Indo-Pak nuclear detonations of 1998. PPP in 2001, became first party in Pakistan to call for a ban on militant groups like Lashkar-e-Tayyabba and Jaish-e-Mohammad. Musharaf now adopts our policies but on the ground his old policies are in place.
I take this opportunity to commend the All Parties Hurriyet Conference. APHC has an important role to play in facilitating peaceful conditions in Srinigar as indeed in Muzzafarabad whose parties are also part of the APHC.
As Prime Minister I signed with Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi the nuclear confidence building treaty in 1988, a treaty by which we committed not to attack our respective nuclear facilities. It was the most important peace accords between us since the Simla Agreements signed in 1972.
We were also able to establish hot lines between the General headquarters of both our countries modelled after the Hotline between Washington and the Kremlin.
These confidence building measures were important to moving the cause of peace and facing the challenge of differing perceptions on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir.
Other countries also have different points of view on issues. China and India have a border dispute but they do not threaten each other with war. In fact, relations between the two countries keep improving.
We can learn from such models of conflict management. Progress can help build stronger economic ties.
In the early years, 56 percent of Pakistan's total exports went direct to the Indian market.
However, as the political relations deteriorated in the 1950s, trade died down and became practically non existent for fifty years.
It was to revive this relationship that the PPP government under my leadership proposed a South Asian Tariff Agreement during the Islamabad Summit of 1988. The PPP government between 1993 and 1996 ratified the SAPTA agreement during my second tenure. Trade between our two countries is a benefit to the common man.
The politics of the PPP has always been the politics of the common man.
Despite a growing middle class in both countries, the depth of poverty of our underclass defames our image.
The French philosopher Rousseau said that we were all born free. Yet our societies, cultures, politics and militaries, keep our people chained to illiteracy, ignorance, intolerance, infant mortality, malnutrition and disease. It is to break those chains of backwardness that the PPP was working from Simla to Islamabad to its vision of SAPTA and free travel for the countries of South Asia.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
In 1988, my government and I worked closely with the world community on the issue of nuclear proliferation. My government convinced other major players in Pakistan's power structure of the importance of nuclear restraint.
Following recent disclosures by Iran, Islamabad detained seven scientists attached to its nuclear facility at Kahuta. An investigation by our intelligence agency is our underway.
The recent proliferation accusations cover North Korea, Iran and Libya.
Saif Gaddafi allegedly said Pakistan sold 'full bomb dossier' to Tripoli. The New York Times carried a sales brochure of nuclear components from Pakistan's AQ Khan Laboratories published in 2000 when Musharaf was the Chief Executive. Washington has indicated that it is willing to accept Musharaf's plea that this was "in the past ".
US officials said on January 16th that they are investigating a possible Islamabad connection in the export of trigger devices for nuclear weapons by a South African businessman of Israeli origin. The New York Times reports the paper trail leads to Pakistan.
Islamabad faces an explosive situation. Pakistani's do not believe its nuclear scientists, could have sold nuclear technology on their own. There is a consensus that the scientists are being make scapegoats. Musharaf's go it alone attitude has left the public ignorant of developments relating to the proliferation inquiry. Most information has come from the American media.
It was from the US media that the people learnt that for the past two years, Musharaf suspected Abdul Qadeer Khan was free-lancing nuclear assets, while the Inter-Services Intelligence agency was in the dark. It was from the British paper that people in Pakistan learnt that Colin Powell had asked for the arrest of Qadeer Khan in 2002.
Unless there is a transparent public inquiry into the chain of events leading to accusations against the scientists, a public backlash is likely. Few people are ready to believe that the scientists acted on their own.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I entered politics with the dream to help my country prosper on democratic principles.
Tragically, I found that the fanatics and the dictators fear the empowerment of the People of Pakistan -- they fear literacy, equality and above all fear information.
They demean political parties and democratically elected leaders to justify direct or indirect military rule.
Concentrating power in one Institution has negative consequences. Iraq and Afghanistan are two recent examples. Both once key allies of the west, the Baathists and the Mujahideen had to be removed by force.
Weakened political parties and structures make the task of reconstruction more difficult.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
The terrorists of Al Qaeda including Osama Bin Laden and Ramzi Yousaf tried to get rid of the PPP government. Musharaf is also trying to get rid of the PPP. I ask myself why the common denominator between both of these apparently irreconcilable forces is the attempt to crush the PPP.
I believe as a democrat, I am their opposite. As someone who offers hope to our people -education, jobs, communication and modernity instead of guns and disempowerment -- I am an obstacle to the forces of hate.
Under the PPP government Pakistan integrated into the global economy. We became one of the ten emerging capital markets of the world. We invested in education and health.
My government condemned honour killing, the murder of women who chose to marry without their guardian's permission. My party has moved a bill in Parliament making these honour killings illegal. Sadly, but not unsurprisingly, Pakistan's military regime refuses to join us.
General Musharaf did make the correct decision to stand with America following the attack on the world trade centres. But until he did so, his regime was the most ardent supporter of the Taliban even as it harboured Al-Qaeda. He learned his politics from the father of the Afghan Jihad the religious despot Zia ul Haq.
General Zia wanted the people of Pakistan to live under the strict interpretation of Islamic laws by the Muslim brotherhood just like the Taliban. Now Musharaf has promoted the politics of excluding the mainstream party opening the way for the religious parties that, like Zia, wish to implement the Muslim Brotherhood's interpretation of Islamic school of law.
Musharaf is a leader who was best friends with AL-Qaeda harbourers and with the religious parties that recently bailed him out from his constitutional crisis. When pushed by President Bush to stand up and be counted as friend or foe, he dumped the Taliban. The US forgave him accepting that it was "in the past ".
India and Pakistan nearly went to war fallowing the Indian Pakistan blast in 2001. Musharaf banned militant groups fallowing this attack and said "it was in the past ".
When Washington woke up to possible export of nuclear technology to North Korea, Musharaf assured the US Secretary of State that "it was in the past ".
But when it comes to pursuing his political opponents, it's never in the past. It's all about accountability.
It surprised people in Pakistan that as Washington talks of the importance of freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan, it coddles dictatorship in Pakistan.
In Pakistan, those of us who are committed to human rights and democracy abhor terrorism in all of its murderous forms.
At this time of political crisis in Pakistan, with a military dictatorship strangling our Constitution, America should stand for its values and principles, and reject tyranny.
Pakistan's military dictator has given mixed signals at home and around the world.
He denounces Osama, yet allows Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders escaping from the Tora Bora mountain range. They are seen as his insurance policy to get continued support for his dictatorship.
He knows that once the problem is resolved, he will no longer be needed. So he has to keep the pot boiling.
The Taliban regrouped are now reasserting themselves. It is said that they have a parallel government in every province.
Musharaf professes pluralism abroad, while he smashes free expression, free association and free elections at home. The arrest of the French journalists and the trial of the reporter Rizvi are two recent examples.
As the noted French author Bernard-Henri Levy recently observed in the Washington Post: "After September 11th, the war against terrorism had to be declared, and that it has to be carried on, with all the necessary alliances. But what is the real necessity, in this framework, of the US-Pakistan alliance? Was it necessary, after the most recent visit of Musharaf to Washington, to continue the massive funding of his regime? "People of Pakistan ask the same question.
The United States is committing billions of dollars in military aid to Pakistan. It would make sense to tie this generous assistance to genuine political reform and social liberalization.
General Musharaf presides over the most massive rise of religious parties that Islamabad has seen in its fifty-four year history.
Pakistan, observed Arnold de Borchgrave, the UPI Editor in Chief, recently " is a nuclear
power with two of its four provinces governed by six politico-religious parties whose leaders are friends of Taliban's Mullah Omar and al-Qaeda's Osama bin Laden. " These six parties are also friends of Musharaf whom they bailed out of the constitutional crisis.
The October elections orchestrated in Pakistan in 2002 year were a mockery of justice. The leaders of Pakistan's major political parties, including myself were banned from contesting.
Taliban leader Mullah Omar's teacher was allowed to contest and did enter Parliament.
We were stopped from contesting and campaigning. Yet, after the polls closed, it seemed we won an over whelming majority of parliamentary seats. But results were held off. Turnout, estimated at 20%, doubled, quadrupled, and in some areas exceeded 100%.
Despite this rigging, my party won enough seats to form the government of Pakistan.
But the session of the Parliament was post phoned indefinitely. My party's majority was broken with the formation of a splinter group.
The splinter group was formed by General Mehdi, Musharaf's appointee in charge of Para military forces. He happens to be the brother-in-law of former Air Chief Mushaf another Musharaf appointee.
That Air Chief, according to a recent American book "Why America Slept " was a supporter of Al-Qaeda who knew of the September 11th attacks before they took place.
I believe those that believed they defeated one super power and could defeat another, who sympathise with Al-Qaeda and support Musharaf, sabotaged and the chances of my party forming the government. This was despite the fact that I was banned from Parliament and would not have led the government. This means that they oppose not just my leadership but they oppose the very ideas and policies of the PPP even as they pretend to adopt those policies. This is the disconnect between stated policy and ground reality.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
The European Union and the Colombo Observers, the Commonwealth found the October elections "flawed ".
Human rights watch said " The deck was sacked against the democratic parties ".
General Musharaf gave the religious parties control of the states bordering Afghanistan.
He wants the people of Pakistan, and people all over the world, to believe the choice in Pakistan is between military dictatorship and religious dictatorship.
He is saying that his military dictatorship alone stands in the way of the Talibanization of
Pakistan, the creation of a nuclear-armed extremist Republic.
A Powerful message. But a total fraud.
Dictatorship doesn't constrain fundamentalism. It provokes it.
The rise of religious parties to power in Pakistan under Musharaf proves this.
The involvement of the military in the politics of Pakistan is undermining our institutions.
Last February a Pakistan military officer fired on an American military officer. The America's dropped a 500lb bomb in retaliation. This is one of several clashes that have took place at the Pak-Afghan border. The tribal areas are already tense with reports of a US spring offensive in those parts which according to the Chicago Tribune Musharaf has approved. However, Musharaf has denied the same in Pakistan. His policy is the policy of contradictions, duality, deceit—all tactical measures lacking vision or depth.
Women's rights are thrown back a century as honour killings increase.
Political leaders are arrested as part of the politics of revenge, sometimes for years.
My own husband, hostage to my political career, is in Musharaf's custody as we speak tonight. He was arrested the night the PPP government was overthrown on November 4, 1996. Two American Presidents have completed their terms while he has been in prison.
After he is released by the courts, he is charged again. Released, re-arrested. There is no justice under Musharaf's watch.
Blackmail of women politicians is openly indulged in. The husband of parliamentarian Farzana Raja was arrested and she was asked to switch sides. The electricity and telephone connections were cut and she was intimidated with the presence of intelligence hounds.
Two other women did defect. One confided she was promised her brother would be promoted from Brigadier to Maj General. The other presumably was offered both money and a ministry. This we know from those that rejected such offers. This kind of politics corrupts society and breakdowns the professionalism of institutions.
I am told that my husband will be freed if I announce my retirement from politics. I know that my duty to my people comes first, for the sake of my children and all the children of Pakistan.
General Musharaf first staged an unconstitutional referendum to rubber-stamp his dictatorship. The New York Times called it a "dubious exercise ".
There were no other candidates, no voting lists, no fixed polling stations and eight year olds were pictured voting.
He passed 29 constitutional amendments in 2 minutes. It took America 250 years to pass 27 amendments.
These amendments gave him unprecedented powers. Powers that Mullah Omar invested himself with in Afghanistan.
And while he reaches agreement with the religious parties yielding his treasured uniform in the process, he refuses to make substantive concessions for a democratic Pakistan with the PPP which won the largest number of votes. The message is clear: He is willing to give in to the religious parties to promote them in society while simultaneously tasking the intelligence to weaken democratic parties with fissures and desertions through tactics involving blackmail and bribe.
Musharaf likes to me corrupt although I have not been convicted by any court of law despite seven years of trying by the military establishment. However, he refuses to investigate Saif Gaddaffi's claim that Libya paid forty million dollars for a "bomb dossier ". Moreover, he included in his cabinet those of my Party charged with corruption. He made them Minister of Interior and Minister of Water and Power to give two examples.
He refuses to let me return safely to my country even as he frees those charged and convicted for corruption taking them into his cabinet.
A leading weekly recently asked: Why does he hate Benazir Bhutto?
The dictator's attacks on me are really attacks on the policies my Party and I espouse, and the issues we advance. And thus in Pakistan the causes of women's rights, human rights, press freedom and democracy fall backwards into the dark chasms of a past era.
General Musharaf uses Pakistan's importance to the United States in Afghanistan to further his own dictatorship. This is at the cost of the human and democratic rights of the people of Pakistan. He says he will contain terrorists and militants but they keep regrouping under different names. Now he is making Madrassas flush with money from aid that Washington is giving while government institutes of education are starved for funds and government teachers poorly paid.
He and his military dictator predecessors tasked the Intelligence to control the political process in the country. This politicisation is now tarnishing the image of the intelligence known as ISI. It is also tarnishing the image of Parliament. The new Prime Minister was elected after the ISI bussed in the parliamentarians to the ISI headquarters and ordered them to vote for Mr. Jamali who was until then being investigated for corruption charges.
How many more September llths, how many more Danny Pearls, how many more wars where so many young people die before we realize that the greatest protection of freedom from terrorists, is replacing dictatorships with governments responsible to the people, governments based on the values of democracy and liberty.
Democracies, must provide for the public welfare, must provide social services, and must provide education, health and housing. Dictatorships need not.
More than one billion Muslims stand at the crossroads. They must not be left to choose between one dictatorship or another, between military dictatorship and religious dictatorship.
History teaches us that when America turns against democracy, it turns against itself. This is what happened when Washington walked away from Afghanistan after the Soviets withdrew. Regrettably, Al Qaeda made Afghanistan its base to launch war against the West. Now, in this critical war against terrorism, America must keeps sight of its democratic values.
Islamabad rulers believe Washington will continue supporting them. They claim that Washington is tied down in Afghanistan and Iraq, suffering daily casualties and will therefore sacrifice the cause of democracy.
If General Musharaf is right in this assessment and his nuclear-armed military dictatorship continues exploiting the war on international terror to legitimize his illegitimate power, the threat from terrorists could build through this century.
I empathize with the author Bernard Henry-Levi, who wrote:
"I have become part of a growing club of those who cannot return to Pakistan, simply because they don't want to end up like journalist Daniel Pearl. But I am convinced that a harsher tone, a reformulation of the terms of alliance, is called for, so that our relationship with Musharaf will be more than a gullible, naïve embrace -- and will conform to moral as well as political imperatives. And I would add that waiting for us is the other Pakistan --that which is liberal, democratic, secular, which fights, back against the wall, against mounting Islamicism, and which does not understand why, in this combat, [America] is not at its side. "
Thank you ladies and gentlemen.
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