Benazir Bhutto's Address to Diplomats at PPP Foreign Liaison Committee Reception'Senate Hall - ' -
Ladies and gentlemen
I appreciate the opportunity to have this conversation with you, especially at this most critical time in the history of my nation.
Obviously Pakistan is at a turning point, and the direction we follow will not only impact the future of my nation, but I strongly believe will have a direct and immediate impact on the stability of the region and the stability of the world.
I take this opportunity to thank the International community for their support to the people of in calling upon General Musharaf to lift the curbs of the media, release political prisoners, retire as Army Chief on schedule, and hold elections on schedule.
Democracy is morally right, and even more important to this forum, democracy is the only viable way to contain the growth of extremism, militancy and fanaticism that now threatens the world.
My Party, Nation and I have spent our lives fighting for democracy and for democratic governance. We are fighting now for democracy to safeguard people’s rights and also to safeguard the unity of . Our goal is to ensure that through empowerment, employment and education, regions of my country cease being the Petri dish for international and national terrorist plots that threaten us all.
Something seems to be missing here.
under dictatorship is a pressure cooker. Without a place to vent, the passion of our people for liberty threatens to explode. The current military dictatorship that rules my country with an iron fist is opposing the inevitable forces of history. There is not enough barbed wire, or bullets, or bayonets to defeat my people’s unquestionable desire for democracy, for control over their own lives, for human rights, gender equality, labour and minority rights and for a chance to build a better life for their children. These are indeed the dreams of the Pakistani people and of all people. These are universal values.
It is eleven years since the destabilization of the democratic government I led but it has failed to crush the will and support of the people for a representative government that addresses the bread and butter issues of our people, 74% of whom live in poverty. Poverty has increased as has joblessness since the PPP government, with a 6% growth rate, without 10 billions of aid, was overthrown.
Yesterday my home was surrounded and I was unofficially put under house arrest because this military regime did not want the world to see that the people of want change, want freedom, and want liberty. The garrison town ofwas cut off and surrounded. With blockades, barbed wire and the motorway closed. For 8 hours people were gassed and beaten. The brutal images of police beating innocent women were on every television screen on Earth. Tomorrow people of Sindh will hold protest meetings in every district to show solidarity with the people of.
In we say that there are two tests for the success of a public meeting. When the government does not use coercive methods to stop a meeting, the success is judged by the number of people present.
On October 18 the people of Pakistan held the most historic rally in the history of Pakistan when three million turned out in Karachi, stretching all the way back on the National Highway to receive me to express their hope that my return would be a catalyst of a change from dictatorship to democracy.
The second test of a popular public meeting is the amount of police force and measures used to block the people’s participation. The amount of force and restrictive measures is proportionate to the number of people expected to turn out and attend a public meeting.
Force was used to bring closure of on. There was tear-gassing, baton charging, arrest of 5000 activists, including women parliamentarians from Peshwar to,to Pindi,to Pindi andto Pindi. The amount of force used was, according to our calculation, to stop a gathering of a million people. By both tests, coercive and non-coercive, the people rose to the occasion.
Now the ball is in the regime’s court. We have called for a Long March from from. This is the March for Freedom, freedom from dictatorship, from militancy from poverty and unemployment.
The current regime has convinced some Nations that General Musharaf alone stands in the way of a nuclear armed, fundamentalist . This is a misperception. The religious parties inhave never received more than 11% of the vote in any election and they would receive less today. It is dictatorship that fuels extremism. The dictatorship of 80’s created the Afghan Mujahideen which morphed into Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The political partners of that dictatorship hold key positions in the political, administrative and security institutions of this dictatorship. They cannot, and have not contained extremism nor reduced poverty. They have exacerbated the situation to an extent where nuclear armedis threatened with implosion.
Only a popularly elected democratic government with the mandate of the people has the political base to undermine the militants and bring peace to the people of .
Dictatorship does not contain fanaticism. Dictatorship causes fanaticism.
Ladies and gentlemen, plays a central role in the direction of one billion Muslims on this planet. Awhich is moderate, enlightened, modern can be a model to the people in the Muslim world who have to choose between the forces of the past and the forces of the future.can be critical to democratic development and the containment of extremism all overand, and can spare our global community further senseless attacks from the forces of hatred.
The enemies of reconciliation amongst our peoples and our nations are trying desperately to provoke a clash of civilizations. These fanatics thrive on chaos. They thrive on the desperation that comes from dictatorship. Democracy suffocates them by giving people choices and giving people hope.
The PPP and I negotiated with General Musharaf’s regime for a peaceful transition to democracy. We worked on a road map for fair elections and transition to democracy.
Tragically, suddenly General Musharaf suspended the constitution and imposed Martial Law. This Martial law has been called an Emergency for International consumption.
The PPP has called upon General Musharaf to:
Revive the Constitution and with it the judges.
Retire as Chief of Army Staff on November 15 as scheduled.
Hold general elections called on November 15 on schedule for .
Re-constitute the Election Commission and implement election reforms including an interim government of national consensus to oversee the elections, suspension of the Mayors for the elections period, appointment of impartial officials to important government positions, a fair voter account, no improvised polling stations and other such measures.
End of political victimization
Lifting of curbs on the media.
Something seems to be missing here.
is in a crisis. Our country, armed forces, police, women, judges, lawyers, minorities, labour, peasants, students, intellectuals and youth are under assault, some by the militants, others by the military regime.
The choice must not be between the military or the militants the choice must be for the will of the people, for democracy.
If for no other reason than your own national self-interest, stand with us in our demand for free and fair elections with robust international monitoring.
The Taliban are coming nearer and nearer. I do not want to be melodramatic. But it is the harsh reality that they came from the mountains of Tora Bora to the tribal areas. First one agency fell, then another as the government struck ceasefires and peace treaties with them. Bajaur fell, Khyber fell, fell. Now towns in Swat are falling. Madyan fell, Kalam fell. Today they knock on the doors of Shangla Hills.
The Freedom March, the caravan of democracy is not about Benazir Bhutto. This is not a about the Pakistan Peoples Party. This is about saving from disintegration at the hands of militants who have grown in strength under a military dictatorship. They threaten us all. The people ofcannot be allowed to fall from one dictatorship to another, from military dictatorship to religious dictatorship. I have returned to help my people. My supporters, often from working families, often young, are risking their lives to saveby saving democracy. My Father gave his life for the democratic rights of the people.
We don’t accept tyranny. Our cause is just, our path is right for it is the path of truth, the path of the people. We appeal to all the people of our country to walk with us on our common destination towards freedom. We ask the international community to give us moral support.
We believe that victory and defeat are in the hands of God, as is life and death, but we must do what is right, what is just. We must raise our voices and begin the journey in the great walk from tyranny to freedom.