Remarks by the President in Greeting to the People of Pakistan


Office of the Press Secretary
(Islamabad, Pakistan)

For Immediate ReleaseMarch 25, 2000


Islamabad, Pakistan

4:20 P.M. (L)

THE PRESIDENT: As-salaam aleikum. It is an honor to be the firstPresident of the United States to address all the people of Pakistan, andthe first to visit your country in more than 30 years. I'm here as a greatadmirer of your land's rich history, of its centuries of civilization whichstretch as long as the Indus River. I'm here as one whose own nation hasbeen greatly enriched by the talents of Americans of Pakistani descent.But most of all, I am here as a friend -- a grateful friend who values ourlong partnership; a concerned friend who cares deeply about the futurecourse of your country; a committed friend who will stand with the peopleof Pakistan as long as you seek the stable, prosperous, democratic nationof your founders' dreams.

More than half a century ago, Muhammad Ali Jinnah shared that visionas he addressed Pakistan's Constituent Assembly. "If you work together,"he said, "in the spirit that every one of you is first, second and last acitizen, with equal rights, privileges, and obligations, there will be noend to the progress you will make."

The Quaid-e-Azam ended that speech by reading a telegram he had justreceived. The message expressed hope for success in the great work youwere about to undertake. That message was from the people of the UnitedStates.

Despite setbacks and suffering, the people of Pakistan have built thisnation from the ground up, on a foundation of democracy and law. And formore than 50 years now, we have been partners with you. Pakistan helpedthe United States open a dialogue with China. We stood together when theSoviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Our partnership helped to end the ColdWar. In many years since, we have cooperated in the fight againstterrorism. Our soldiers have stood together in missions of peace in everypart of the world. This is your proud legacy; our proud legacy.

Now we are in the dawn of a new century, and a new and changing worldhas come into view. All around the globe, a revolution is taking hold -- arevolution that is tearing down barriers and building up networks amongnations and individuals. For millions it has made real the dream of abetter life with good schools, good jobs, a good future for their children.

Like all key moments in human history, this one poses some hardchoices, for this era does not reward people who struggle in vain to redrawborders with blood. It belongs to those with the vision to look beyondborders, for partners and commerce and trade. It does not favor nationswhere governments claim all the power to solve every problem. Instead, itfavors nations where the people have the freedom and responsibility toshape their own destiny.

Pakistan can achieve great things in this new world, but realobstacles stand in the way. The political situation, the economicsituation, the tensions in this region -- they are holding Pakistan backfrom achieving its full potential in the global economy.

I know I don't have to tell you all this. This is something you know,something you have seen. But I do have hope. I believe Pakistan can makeits way through the trouble, and build a future worthy of the vision of itsfounders: A stable, prosperous, democratic Pakistan, secure in itsborders, friendly with its neighbors, confident in its future. A Pakistan,as Jinnah said, at peace within and at peace without.

What is in the way of that vision? Well, clearly, the absence ofdemocracy makes it harder, not easier, for people to move ahead. I knowdemocracy isn't easy; it's certainly not perfect. The authors of my owncountry's constitution knew that as well. They said that the mission ofthe United States would always be, and I quote, "to form a more perfectunion." In other words, they knew we would never fully realize our ideals,but that we could keep moving closer to them. That means the question forfree people is always how to keep moving forward.

We share your disappointment that previous democratic governments inPakistan did not do better for their citizens. But one thing is certain:democracy cannot develop if it is constantly uprooted before it has achance to firmly take hold. Successful democratic government takes timeand patience and hard work. The answer to flawed democracy is not to enddemocracy, but to improve it.

I know General Musharraf has just announced a date for localelections. That is a good step. But the return of civilian democraticrule requires a complete plan, a real road map.

Of course, no one from the outside can tell Pakistan how it should begoverned. That is for you, the people of Pakistan, to decide, and youshould be given the opportunity to do so. I hope and believe you wantPakistan to be a country where the rule of law prevails; a country whereofficials are accountable; a country where people can express their pointsof view without fear; a country that wisely forsakes revenge for the woundsof the past, and instead pursues reconciliation for the sake of the future.If you choose this path, your friends in the United States will stand withyou.

There are obstacles to your progress, including violence andextremism. We Americans also have felt these evils. Surely we have bothsuffered enough to know that no grievance, no cause, no system of beliefscan ever justify the deliberate killing of innocents. Those who bomb busstations, target embassies or kill those who uphold the law are not heroes.They are our common enemies, for their aim is to exploit painful problems,not to resolve them.

Just as we have fought together to defeat those who traffick innarcotics, today I ask Pakistan to intensify its efforts to defeat thosewho inflict terror.

Another obstacle to Pakistan's progress is the tragic squandering ofeffort, energy and wealth on polices that make your nation poorer, but notsafer. That is one reason we must try to resolve the differences betweenour two nations on nuclear weapons.

Again, you must make the decision. But my questions to you are nodifferent from those I posed in India. Are you really more secure todaythan you were before you tested nuclear weapons? Will these weapons makewar with India less likely or simply more deadly? Will a costly arms racehelp you to achieve any economic development? Will it bring you closer toyour friends around the world, closer to the partnerships you need to buildyour dreams?

Today, the United States is dramatically cutting its nuclear arsenal.Around the world nations are renouncing these weapons. I ask Pakistan alsoto be a leader for nonproliferation. In your own self-interest, to help usto prevent dangerous technologies from spreading to those who might have noreservations at all about using them, take the right steps now to preventescalation, to avoid miscalculation, to reduce the risk of war.

As leaders in your own country have suggested, one way to strengthenyour security would be to join the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Thewhole world will rally around you if you do.

I believe it is also in Pakistan's interest to reduce tensions withIndia. When I was in New Delhi, I urged India to seize the opportunity fordialogue. Pakistan also must help create conditions that will allowdialogue to succeed. For India and Pakistan this must be a time ofrestraint, for respect for the line of control, and renewed lines ofcommunication.

I have listened carefully to General Musharraf and others. Iunderstand your concerns about Kashmir. I share your convictions thathuman rights of all its people must be respected. But a stark truth mustalso be faced. There is no military solution to Kashmir. Internationalsympathy, support and intervention cannot be won by provoking a bigger,bloodier conflict. On the contrary; sympathy and support will be lost.And no matter how great the grievance, it is wrong to support attacksagainst civilians across the line of control.

In the meantime, I ask again: Will endless, costly struggle buildgood schools for your children? Will it make your cities safer? Will itbring clean water and better health care? Will it narrow the gaps betweenthose who have and those who have nothing? Will it hasten the day whenPakistan's energy and wealth are invested in building its future? Theanswer to all these questions is plainly no.

The American people don't want to see tensions rise and sufferingincrease. We want to be a force for peace. But we cannot force peace. Wecan't impose it. We cannot and will not mediate or resolve the dispute inKashmir. Only you and India can do that, through dialogue.

Last year, the world watched with hope as the leaders of India andPakistan met in Lahore on the road to better relations. This is the rightroad to peace for Pakistan and India, and for the resolution of theproblems in Kashmir. Therefore, I will do all I can to help both sidesrestore the promise and the process of Lahore.

A few months ago we had a ceremony at the White House to mark the endof Ramadan. An Imam shared a message from the Koran which tells us thatGod created nations and tribes that we might know one another, not that wemay despise one another. During the years of my presidency, I have triedto know the Muslim world as part of our common humanity. I have stood withthe people of Bosnia and Kosovo, who were brutalized because of theirMuslim faith. I have mourned with Jordanians and Moroccans at the loss oftheir brave leaders. I have been privileged to speak with Palestinians attheir National Council in Gaza.

Today I am proud to speak with you because I value our longfriendship, and because I believe our friendship can still be a force fortolerance and understanding throughout the world.I hope you will be able to meet the difficult challenges we have discussedtoday. If you do not, there is a danger that Pakistan may grow even moreisolated, draining even more resources away from the needs of the people,moving even closer to a conflict no one can win. But if you do meetthese challenges, our full economic and political partnership can berestored for the benefit of the people of Pakistan.

So let us draw strength from the words of the great Pakistani poet,Muhammad Iqbal, who said, "In the midst of today's upheaval, give us avision of tomorrow." If the people of Pakistan and South Asia are drivenby a tolerant, generous vision of tomorrow, your nation and this entireregion can be the great success story of the world's next 50 years.

It is all in your hands. I know enough about the ingenuity andenterprise and heart of Pakistani people to know that this is possible.With the right vision, rooted in tomorrow's promise, not yesterday's pain-- rooted in dialogue, not destruction -- Pakistan can fulfill its destinyas a beacon of democracy in the Moslem world, an engine of growth, a modelof tolerance, an anchor of stability. Pakistan can have a future worthy ofthe dreams of the Quaid-e-Azam.

If you choose that future, the United States will walk with you. Ihope you will make that choice. And I pray for our continued friendship,for peace, for Pakistan -- Zindabad.  


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