Musharraf's Address 17 December 1999
General Pervez Musharraf became the Chief Executive
after deposing the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on 13 October 1999.
The following is the text of his first broadcast to the nation,
delievered four days after his take-over.
Address to the Nation by Chief Executive General
October 17, 1999
My dear countrymen!
Asalam O Alaikum.
Pakistan today stands at the crossroads of its destiny-
a destiny which is in our hands to make or break. Fifty-two years
ago, we started with a beacon of hope and today that beacon is no
more and we stand in darkness. There is despondency, and hopelessness
surrounding us with no light visible anywhere around. The slide
down has been gradual but has rapidly accelerated in the last many
Today, we have reached a stage where our economy has
crumbled, our credibility is lost, state institutions lie demolished;
provincial disharmony has caused cracks in the federation, and people
who were once brothers are now at each other's throat.
In sum, we have lost our honour, our dignity, our
respect in the comity of nations. Is this the democracy our Quaid-i-Azam
had envisaged? Is this the way to enter the new millennium?
Let us not be despondent. I am an optimist. I have
faith in the destiny of this nation, belief in its people and conviction
in its future. We were not a poor nation as generally perceived.
In fact we are rich. We have fertile land that can produce three
crops a year. We have abundant water to irrigate these lands and
generate surplus power. We have gas, coal and vast untapped mineral
resources - and above all a dynamic and industrious people. All
these await mobilization. We have only to awaken, join hands and
grasp our destiny. For Allah helps those who help themselves.
My fellow Pakistanis!
As you are aware I took over in extremely unusual
circumstances - not of my making. It is unbelievable and indeed
unfortunate that, the few at the helm of affairs in the last government
were intriguing to destroy the last institution of stability left
in Pakistan by creating dissention in the ranks of the armed forces
of Pakistan. And who would believe that the Chief of Army Staff,
having represented Pakistan in Sri Lanka, upon his return was denied
landing in his own country and instead circumstances were created
which would have forced our plane either to land in India or crash.
Providence ultimately intervened. Praise be to Allah
that the plane landed safely when barely seven minute of fuel was
left. I salute my soldiers and men for acting courageously in the
supreme interest of the nation. Most of all I salute our people
who stood solidly with their armed forces at that critical hour.
Quite clearly, what Pakistan has experienced in the
recent years has been hardly a label of democracy not the essence
of it. Our people were never emancipated from the yoke of despotism.
I shall not allow the people to be taken back to the era of sham
democracy but to a true one. And I promise you I will Inshallah.
My dear countrymen!
The choice before us on 12th October was between saving
the body (that is the nation) at the cost of losing a limb (which
is the Constitution) or saving the limb and losing the whole body.
The Constitution is but a part of the nation therefore I chose to
save the nation and yet took care not to sacrifice the Constitution.
The Constitution has only been temporarily held in abeyance. This
is NOT MARTIAL LAW, only another path towards democracy. The armed
forces have no intention to stay in charge any longer than is absolutely
necessary to pave the way for true democracy to flourish in Pakistan.
Ever since 12th October I have deliberated, carried
out consultations and crystallized my views about the future course
to be adopted. I wish to share these with you today.
My dear countrymen!
Our aims and objectives shall be:
One: Rebuild national confidence and morale.
Two: Strengthen federation, remove inter provincial
disharmony and restore national cohesion.
Three: Revive economy and restore investor confidence.
Four: Ensure law and order and dispense speedy
Five: Depoliticise state institutions
Six: Devolution of power to the grass roots level.
Seven: Ensure swift and across the board accountability.
Good governance is the pre-requisite to achieve these
objectives. In the past, our governments have ruled the people.
It is time now for the governments to serve the people. The government
I plan to institute shall comprise:
The President. On my request, President Rafique
Tarar has very kindly agreed to stay.
A National Security Council headed by the Chief
Executive with six members. These members will be Chief of Naval
Staff, Chief of Air Staff, a specialist each in Legal, Finance,
Foreign Policy and national affairs. A think-tank of experts shall
be formed as an adjunct to the National Security Council, to provide
institutionalised advice and input.
A Cabinet of Ministers who will work under the
guidance of the National Security Council.
The Provinces to be headed by a Governor, functioning
through a small provincial cabinet.
All these appointments shall be made purely on the
basis of professional competence, merit and repute.
Revival of Economy is critical. Our economy is in
deep trouble and revolutionary steps are needed to put it back on
track. The Pakistani people were subjected to betrayal of trust.
Their hard-earned money was frozen or taxed in violation of State
commitment. We need to restore this trust.
To revitalize our economy in addition to measures
like recovery of the looted national wealth - a task that will be
ruthlessly be pursued. I am identifying policy guidelines. Some
of which are:
Rebuilding of investors' confidence through stability
and consistency in economic policies, and economic security. The
objective is to encourage the local investors, overseas Pakistanis
and foreign investors.
Increase domestic savings.
Carry out Pragmatic tax reforms.
Turn around the state enterprises towards profitability.
Boost agriculture and revive industry.
Strict austerity measures.
This brings me to the next aspect is accountability.
Lack of accountability has resulted in corruption of horrendous
proportion, threatening the very basis of our society. The term
ehtesab has been abused to an extent that it has lost
its meaning. There is thus a need to re-establish faith in the process
The process of accountability is being directed especially
towards those guilty of plundering and looting the national wealth
and tax evaders. It is also directed towards loan defaulters and
those who have had their loans re-scheduled or condoned. The process
of accountability will be transparent for the public to see. My
advice to the guilty is to return voluntarily national wealth, bank
loans and pay their taxes before the hand of law forces them to
do so with penalty. As a last chance I urge all defaulters to come
forth and settle their debts within a period of four weeks, after
which their names will be published and the law will take its due
course. They owe this to Pakistan and I expect their spirit of patriotism
to guide them.
Cementing the Federation is very vital. This will
be achieved through devolution of power, from the centre to
the provinces and from the provincial to the local government as
actually enshrined in the constitution. Media forms an integral
part of statehood in this era of information. I have great regard
and respect for the media; I trust it to play a positive and constructive
role. I am a firm believer in the freedom of the press and
am even considering liberalising the policy on the establishment
of private television and radio channels.
And now a few words on exploitation of religion. Islam
teaches tolerance not hatred, universal brotherhood and not
enmity, peace and not violence, progress and not bigotry. I have
great respect for the ulema and expect them to come forth and
present Islam in its true light. I urge them to curb elements
which are exploiting religion for vested interests and bringing
bad name to our faith. I would like to reassure our minorities
that they enjoy full rights and protection as equal citizens in
the letter and spirit of true Islam.
I wish to reassure the International community that
there is no change in our foreign policy. We will continue to honour
international obligations and commitments as in the past. It will
remain our constant endeavour to promote peace and stability in
our region. We would like to maintain our abiding policy of friendship
and co-operation with all countries.
The strengthening of brotherly ties with the Islamic
countries will be a central pillar of our foreign policy. We shall
continue our efforts to achieve a just and peaceful solution in
Afghanistan. We wish to see a truly representative government in
Kabul. We will maintain and further reinforce our traditional and
time-tested friendship and co-operation with China. We attach the
highest importance to our friendly relations with all major powers,
especially the United States. Here I would like to mention two key
areas of our external relations: International security and disarmament,
and our relations with India.
Pakistan has always been alive to international non-proliferation
concerns. Last year, we were compelled to respond to India's nuclear
tests in order to restore strategic balance in the interest of our
national security and regional peace and stability. In the new nuclear
environment in South Asia, we believe that both Pakistan and India have
to exercise utmost restraint and responsibility. We owe it to our
people and also to the world. I wish to assure the world community
that while preserving its vital security interests Pakistan
will continue to pursue a policy of nuclear and missile restraint
and sensitivity to global non- proliferation and disarmament
As for relations with India, let me at the out-set
congratulate Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee on assumption of office as
the Prime Minister of India. I welcome his offer for friendly relations
and positively reciprocate. At the turn of the century, South
Asia stands at a crucial juncture of its history, 20th Century saw
our transition to independence but the region has unfortunately remained
mired in conflicts and economic deprivation.
Together Pakistan and India can change this scenario.
For this objective both must sincerely work towards resolving
their problems especially the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir. The people
of Kashmir have made great sacrifices for the achievement of their
rights promised to them by the United Nations. We shall continue
our unflinching moral, political and diplomatic support to our Kashmiri
brethren in their struggle to achieve their right of self-determination.
India must honour the UN resolutions and its own commitment to the
people of Kashmir. It must also end its repression of the Kashmiri
people and respect their fundamental human rights.
Pakistan would welcome unconditional, equitable
and result-oriented dialogue with India. While, our armed
forces are fully equipped and ready to defend our national sovereignty
and territorial integrity, it is our desire that the situation on
our borders with India and on the Line of Control should remain
clam and peaceful. I take this opportunity to announce a unilateral
military de-escalation on our international borders with India and
initiate the return of all our forces moved to the borders in the
recent past. I hope this step would serve as a meaningful confidence
My dear countrymen!
To conclude my address let me say that:
We have hit rock bottom. We have no choice but to
rise, and rise we will Inshallah. Our actions shall Inshallah speak
louder than words. Therefore, my countrymen let us rise to the
occasion and seize the opportunity.
Before I close I would like to give you a personal
commitment. I hereby undertake to declare my tax returns and assets
to be documented and open for public scrutiny. And now I would like
to share a prayer that I wrote for myself:
I promise my nation sincerity, honesty, integrity
and unflinching loyalty.
- the vision to see and perceive the truth from
- the wisdom to comprehend the problem and find
- the courage to do justice and the strength to
do the right.
May Allah be with us all.
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