General Pervez Musharraf facing a student – transcript

The following is a transcript of a student’s contribution at a student’s conference presided over by the President of Pakistan, Army Chief, General Pervez Musharraf. Senator Mushahid Hussain seems to be the moderator. The transcript is in English, that is, it is a translation from the original spoekn in Urdu. All the mistakes are my own. It would be nice if word got back to the student, Syed Adnan Kakakhel, and he could verify its fidelity to the original.

Senator Mushahid Hussain: “…I’m sorry, you have exceeded your time, ji. Thank you very much. The last speaker for this discussion on national integration, Syed Adnan Kakakhel Sahib, seat number 93, associated with the Jamiat-ul-Uloom Islamia, in Banauri Town, Karachi”

Participant: “Jamia Uloom ul Islamia, Banauri Town, Karachi.

“My companions said many pertinent [/good/interesting] things on this subject yesterday. Today, I will try to present it [the subject] in a very concise manner in the light of their reflections.

“There are no two opinions about it: our biggest crisis is the lack of ideological unity, coherence of reflection and accord and unity [in general]. But the question is: why does this lack persist despite the passage of 58 years? The reason is that the basic platform that was given us, that is, “La ilaaha ill-allah” [the first clause of the first kalima in Arabic, translating to “There is no God but Allah”]… confusions have fogged [/clouded/bedevilled?] that concept. Following a well thought out plan, there are people who still ask why was Pakistan created, what was the vision of the Quaid [-e-Azam, the honorific title by which Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of the country, is referred to in Pakistan]? Aren’t these things quite clear? And who can answer this question better: you or I or that generation who coloured the map of the creation of Pakistan with blood [meaning the blood of their sacrifices]? This is a joke on their [departed] souls. This is a joke on their [departed] souls, this makes a mockery of their sacrifices, as if to say, ‘It is sad that you got cut up, but we didn’t understand what you meant.’

“Our second big issue is the law and order situation, and unfortunately, sometimes this is blamed on Islam, even though the study of the Qura’n informs us that Islam places the most emphasis on peace and security. Just consider the prayer of Ibrahim (PBUH) [Abraham]: he talks about the economy later, he talks about the economy later, he mentions peace first. He says: [prayer in Arabic here, skipping it, translates to:] ‘God Almighty, should that this settlement of mine be a centre of peace’, then he says [again in Arabic, translates to:] ‘Also, please put in order the economy of its inhabitants.’ And God too, when he enumerates his blessings, says to Ibrahim, ‘We have settled you in a place that people visit repeatedly and which is a centre of peace.’ All this is perfectly clear. The issue here is, why was our peace and security destroyed? How did our young man [actually, the word nau-jawan is gender neutral, but in practice and especially in this context, it is used to refer to men] become the tool of terrorists [in the sense of vulnerable or susceptible to their doctrine]? And why, day by day, do we find ourselves sinking further into the quicksand of lawlessness? Mr. President, the point to note is that this lesson was not taught him by some religion. This lesson was not told to him by any creed. It is the [prevailing] class divide, economic system, de-valuation of talent, the hollowness of the educational framework [actually, he plays on words as the word he uses translates best to ‘skeleton’, but that just sounds odd in English], unlimited corruption and the abuse of power that are the fearsome problems that have {clapping starts} led the young man in this direction. {2.51} [If] you solve these problems, you solve these problems, then see [in the sense of check or monitor] whether this young man is a terrorist or a peace-lover.

“Our third great issue, that at the moment has assumed great significance for us is the absence [/scarcity] of democratic traditions. We have, as yet, been unsuccessful in creating a real democratic culture and an environment respectful of the popular mandate. The traditions of [legislative] assemblies that form and come undone, the manipulation of elections and, Mr. President, the bypassing of the Parliament in important issues affecting the national interest have undermined the confidence of the people in the present political system. {more clapping}

“Here, we should learn some lessons from the neighbouring country from where Mr. Mushahid has returned and where you are headed in the near future. We have the same date of independence. {relatively subdued clapping, more in anticipation} We have both been given the same time, but they have strengthened democratic traditions to such an extent in their country that regardless of the extent of the failure of the [civil] government, whatever storm breaks out, it is impossible [inconceivable?] that the Army should leave the barracks and assume power. {sustained applause}

“In the same vein, Mr. President, I believe that today this portrait of the Quaid {points} hanging in this hall questions you {points}, where you are standing, ‘General, you {points back} are supposed to be the guardian of the frontiers, who guided you in to the avenues of power [literally, the avenue of authority]?’ {enthusiastic applause}

“And [coughs in that self-effacing way characteristic of maulvis on the pulpit], exalted sir, exalted sir, our third… our third biggest problem… our third biggest problem {raises his arm to ask for silence from the audience} is the elite class economy. According to your magicians of statistics, the economy is progressing, foreign exchange reserves are on the rise, loans have decreased, the begging bowl is broken. You repeatedly say that earlier we used to go begging, now we go to bestow [/give/offer]. And the people are amazed [, asking themselves, ] ‘Dear Lord, what is this conundrum [literally, matter or issue]? The economy is progressing, [while] the poor man’s hearth is going cold [literally, the poor man’s stove is going out]. The foreign exchange reserves are growing, [while] the price of fuel is skyrocketing. Rupee… {has to pause due to burst of applause} rupee.. the value of the rupee has devalued so much. Where is it now?’

“And one more thing, Mr. President, you said that there is no harm in Basant, Islam does not prohibit entertainment at all, that, in fact, it encourages healthy entertainment. But, by the grace of God, let’s not insult the graves of the aspirations of the hapless victims of injustice. {Musharraf is seen to bite his lower lip} Please consider: Islam says that if in one home… there is this strange impression – fine, people, in their individual capacities fly kites, no one declares it haraam [prohibited]. But, when a poor man sees that I have nothing to eat [literally, no bread in my stomach], [while] my president is flying kites, then it appears to him that this gap that exists between us {makes motion indicating the two parties, much applause}, exactly [as if agreeing with himself!] – the poor man says, the poor man says that I – the poor man sees – the poor man… you have to understand his feelings – it looks exactly as if in one home there is a wake and in another, you play the drum, that [you say] I am free, the grief is yours, not mine. So there, no one will allow it, any religion would say, ‘Have a care for his feelings, share his tears, clasp him to your breast.’

“Apart from this, Mr. President, one very important thing that we feel [strongly about]: certain issues are exacerbated by the harshness of your tone. You tell the people of Balochistan, ‘We will hit you so you won’t even know where we came from’. {enthusiastic applause} These things.. You are the elder of the nation; you should converse with the nation in just the same way that you would converse with your son Bilal. You should – Mr. President, your tone… My sister invoked the subject of the uniform [the popular term for the dual-office controversy]. You yourself told [this] nation of 140 million that you would take off the uniform and then you betrayed the promise in the name of the national interest…”

Senator Mushahid Hussain: “Thank you, ji. Thank you, thank you. Your time is up…” {looks at, presumably, the President, with a somewhat bemused expression, camera pans to audience clapping enthusiastically, the speaker, sitting back in his chair, satisfied, trying not to look smug, camera pans back to the audience as some stand up to show their appreciation, shot of Musharraf allowing himself a smile acknowledging the audience’s appreciation}


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