September 25, 2008
By Asif Ali Zardari There are moments
in history that define nations, and also define men. For Pakistan, we have reached a critical crossroad that will determine the nature of our future, or if we will have one. I have the opportunity to help my people secure that future, by implementing the vision of my late martyred wife, Benazir Bhutto. Benazir gave her life fighting the terrorism and fanaticism that haunt the entire civilized world. I fight the terrorist threat in Pakistan not only as an elected democratic leader but also as a grieving husband. No one should doubt my commitment to standing up to the terrorist threat. My commitment is national. My commitment is personal.
Last week's cowardly attack on the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad is another example of the irrational threat against civilization. Striking during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the barbarians killed 60 people and injured hundreds more. It was our national 9/11. It once again demonstrated that Pakistan is the great victim in the war on terror. We have lost more soldiers in Afghanistan than all the 37 countries that have forces there. We have watched our children being blown up, our wives cut down. We do not need lectures about terrorism from anyone. We don't read about it or watch it on the evening news. We live it each and every day.
The war on terror is Pakistan's war, and we are its greatest victims. We stand united and in defiance. We are resolved that our future will not be dictated by those who defile the spirit and laws of Islam for their sordid political goals. We may be the targets of international terrorism, but we will never succumb to it.
We are confronting the terrorist threat in our tribal areas as well as in our cities. Soldiers are arrayed in the field against the Taliban and al Qaeda, and last month our fighter jets killed 600 enemy fighters. But terrorism cannot be fought by military means alone. Fighting terrorism requires political will, popular mobilization, and a socioeconomic strategy that wins the hearts and minds of the people, by giving them a concrete stake in our country's emerging democracy and in our economic infrastructure. Toward this end, we need the support of the developed world to not only help us fight terrorism but also its root causes, which lurk in the poverty that breeds hopelessness.
The fight against terrorism will not be won by guns and bombs alone. The fight must be multifaceted. 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 demonstrate to them that democracy does perform and that democratic governance can improve their everyday life. In terms of security and national interest, our success will be success for the world as well.
An economically viable Pakistan will be a secure Pakistan, and a secure Pakistan is the greatest asset in the world's fight against terrorism. A stable and economically viable Pakistan will suck the oxygen from the terrorist agenda. Economic justice and political democracy are the terrorists' worst nightmares.
We must fight this epic battle together as allies and as partners. But just as we will not let our territory be used by terrorism for attacks on our people and neighbors, we cannot allow our territory and sovereignty to be violated by friends. Attacks that violate our sovereignty actually serve to empower the forces against which we mutually fight.
I am a democratic president of a democratic nation elected with a two-thirds mandate, and I intend that my country be a model to our region and religion of a vibrant, modern, tolerant, peaceful, moderate democracy committed to economic and social justice. People, including my wife, died for this moment. I do not intend to squander it.
Terrorism took Benazir's life. But the terrorist cannot kill my wife's dream Asif Ali Zardari is president of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.