UNITED NATIONS: President Asif Ali Zardari Thursday made a stirring call for international community’s moral, political and economic support to help fight terrorism, saying the security of the world lay in Pakistan ‘s stability. “The terrorists strike all nations and continents and there was a need to draw the line on their rampage,” he said in his maiden speech to the U.N. General Assembly at its gold-and-blue hall.“We must draw that line in Pakistan,” he told the 192-member Assembly, saying he was here in place of his martyred wife, Benazir Bhutto, to muster support for her nation which is a victim of terrorism. “In our stability lies the world’s security,” he added.
Pakistan, he said, was fighting for the peace of the world as also for the hearts and minds of the affected people. “It can’t be won only by guns and bombs. The fight must be multifaceted,” he added. In his speech focusing the scourge of terrorism, President Zardari said the challenges facing Pakistan can only be addressed by a democratic government and added the country was in the process of reaching a national consensus necessary to confront and defeat the terrorists.
“Only a democratic government can win this war,” the President said and questioned the world leaders whether they will stand with Pakistan, just it stood for the entire civilized world on the front-lines of this epic struggle of the new millennium.
He said globalization was not merely economic, but was also political. The terrorists strike all nations and continents and there was a need to draw the line on their rampage. “And we must draw that line in Pakistan,” Zardari said. He, however, warned that unilateral actions of great powers can inflame the passions of the allies.“Violating our nation’s sovereignty is not helpful in eliminating the terrorist menace. Indeed, this could have the opposite effect,” he said.
President Zardari said it was time for the world to take notice. “We are not the cause of the problem of terrorism, we are its victims,” he said. “We are an aggrieved nation, not one that has caused grief,” he said and pointed that Pakistan has fought this battle largely alone. “We have shared our air bases, our air space, our intelligence and our armed forces in a coordinated effort to contain terrorism.”
President Zardari said Pakistan has alone lost more soldiers than all the 37 countries that have forces in Afghanistan put together. He traced back the roots of terrorism to the war involving superpowers in Afghanistan during the 1990s.
The President said the threat of terrorism cannot be fought by military means alone and requires political will, popular mobilization and a socio-economic strategy that wins the hearts and minds of nations afflicted by it. Zardai said “It was time for the developed world to step up to the plate to help us, and in turn help itself.”
He said the battleground must be economic and social as well as military. “We will win when people are mobilized against the fanatics. To mobilize them we have to give them hope and opportunity for their future. They need jobs. Their children need education. They must be fed. They must have energy. “We must give people a stake in their own government, and we must demonstrate to them that democracy does perform, that democratic governance can improve their everyday life.
The President said an economically viable Pakistan will be a stable Pakistan as it will suck the oxygen from the terrorists’ agenda. Economic justice and political democracy are the worst nightmares of the terrorists, he added. “We must all fight this epic battle together as allies and partners. But just as we will not let Pakistan’s territory to be used by terrorists for attacks against our people and our neighbours, we cannot allow our territory and our sovereignty to be violated by our friends,” he added.
President Zardari said the government will work patiently to persuade leaders in FATA and the Pakhtunkhwa Province to accept the writ of government and turn their back on terrorists. “The terrorists can blow up our girls’ schools but we will rebuild them, brick by brick, inch by inch. We are in this battle to win. And we know how we have to do it.”
He said Pakistan will work together with Afghanistan, and the NATO forces stationed there, to ensure security of the common border. He also vowed to continue the composite dialogue with India so that their outstanding disputes were resolved.
“Whether it is the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir , or cooperation on water resources, India and Pakistan must accommodate each other’s concerns and interests; we must respect and work with each other to peacefully resolve our problems and build South Asia into a common market of trade and technology,” he said.
President Zardari was of the view that better relations between Pakistan, Afghanistan and India would help create the regional environment that was more conducive to reducing militancy in the region. “But let be clear, to those in this hall, and to the terrorists lurking in their caves plotting their next assault on humanity. If necessary we will confront evil with force – our police, our army and our air force. We will turn the power of the state against the stateless terrorists. We will turn the power of justice against the chaos of anarchists. We will turn the power of right against the darkness of evil.”
President Zardari said he did not choose this life, rather it has chosen him through an extraordinary combination of circumstances. He said it has not been an easy road and recalled his nine years in prison, in solitary confinement, as a hostage to his wife’s struggle for democracy and to party’s future. “I was unjustly imprisoned under a judicial system manipulated and controlled by the forces of dictatorship. I refused to break under pressure. “My years in prison made me a stronger person and hardened my resolve to fight for democracy and justice. Those years prepared me for this moment.”
The President said terror took his wife’s life. But the terrorists cannot kill his wife’s dream. “Her vision, her passion, her force is now our common task. The Benazir Bhutto Doctrine of Reconciliation lives on; it guides us in our endeavours. Her Reconciliation is the mantra of the new era, and I am dedicated to implementing what she has proposed. I wish I could do it at my wife’s side. But now I will do it in my wife’s place.”
President Asif Ali Zardari said Pakistan will prove wrong all the negative predictions about its future. “We will show the way in overcoming suspicions towards and from our neighbours and building a future for our people.“Throughout her life, my wife struggled to make the world a better place for our children, the children of Pakistan and the children of the world. “I owe it to her memory, and to all of the martyrs of democracy to continue to do the same, until the Bhutto Doctrine of Reconciliation is not just her dream but the world’s reality,” the President said.
Input from Agencies