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Foreign Policy August 2007


Senator Dr Javaid Laghari’s address to the Senate on Foreign Policy – August 22. 2007

Today, we have a debate on foreign policy and Pakistan’s standing in the world. Pakistan has recently been called the World’s most dangerous country by the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

We are once again in a crisis, and it's a crisis that threatens not only Pakistan and the region, but possibly the entire world.

This crisis is because of the failed policies of General Musharraf in combating terrorism and in not allowing this country to return to true democracy.

No doubt the world is concerned and is watching the political developments in Pakistan carefully.

This crisis has its roots almost half a century ago, when the military first seized power in 1958.

Four military dictatorships -- and most recently those of General Zia ul-Haq in the '80s and now General Musharraf -- have ruled Pakistan for the last 30 years, except for a few years of civilian government.  

And so democracy has never really been given a chance to grow or nurture in Pakistan. 

The Military dictatorship, first in the '80s and now again, under General Musharraf, has put into place a government that is unaccountable, that is unrepresentative, that is undemocratic, and that is disconnected from the ordinary people in the country, disconnected from the aspirations of the people who make up Pakistan.

Moreover, military dictatorship is born from the power of the gun, and so it undermines the concept of the rule of law, and gives birth to a culture of might, a culture of weapons, violence and intolerance.

It is this culture that breeds terrorism that we and the world are so concerned about. That is why we have been called the most dangerous country in the world.

The major infrastructure building blocks of democracy have been weakened, political parties have been marginalized, NGOs are dismantled, judges sacked and civil society undermined.

But today in this debate on foreign policy of Pakistan, I would like to tell the world that they are wrong in their notion that the choice in Pakistan is between military dictatorship and religious parties.

The choice for Pakistan today is actually between dictatorship and democracy.

And the real choice that the world also faces today is the choice between dictatorship and democracy.

And in the choice that we make between dictatorship and democracy lies the outcome of the battle between forces of extremism and forces of moderation in Pakistan.

The military dictatorship has exiled the moderate leadership of the country; it has weakened internal law enforcement and allowed for the suppression of people's human rights.

The military operation in Baluchistan is an example of the brutality of the suppression. The killings that took place in Karachi on May 12th, where 48 peaceful political activists were gunned down in the streets of Karachi, and not one person has been arrested for those murders that were actually televised, shows the level to which the regime permits the suppression of the political opposition.

And the world is watching.

And by viewing the events of May 12, where no one is arrested to date, the world rightly considers us as the most dangerous country in the world.

The Bush administration’s close association with a military dictatorship is alienating Pakistan’s people and is playing into the hands of those hardliners who blame the West for the ills of the region.

The West would do well by keeping away from supporting a military dictatorship in Pakistan.

But it need not be this way.

A people inspired by democracy, human rights and economic opportunity will turn their back decisively against extremism and terrorism.

They will take Pakistan back to the age of moderation and development, and to join the ranks of peaceful and developed countries of this world.

However, there is a silver lining on the clouds.

The recent restoration of the Chief Justice of Pakistan to the Supreme Court has given hope to people of Pakistan that the unchecked power of the military will now finally come under a degree of scrutiny by the highest judicial institutions in the country.

A democratic Pakistan would help stabilize Afghanistan, bring peace to the region, and relieve pressure on our troops sent to suppress our own people in the tribal belts.

A democratic Pakistan where the rule of law is established.  

A democratic Pakistan that puts the welfare of its people as the centerpiece of its national policy. 

A democratic Pakistan that the world no more calls the most dangerous place on earth.

Real democracy will allow a pluralistic society to breed and eliminate forces of extremism and terrorism that the world is concerned about.

Real democracy will give our people and the world a sense of security, and security and rule of law will bring in the economic investment that can help us reverse the tide of rising poverty in the country.

Real democracy will lead to a peaceful and prosperous Pakistan that we and the world can look up to.

The Pakistan of Quaid e Azam.