Speech of General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani at Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul.
In the name of Allah, the most beneficent, the most merciful
Ladies and Gentlemen!
1. Please accept my heartfelt felicitations on the 65th anniversary of the independence day of Pakistan. The annual ‘Azadi Parade’ at Pakistan Military Academy has become an important event of our independence day celebration. Personally, I am honoured to witness today's parade. This special ceremony reminds us of 14th August 1947, the most important day of our history. It is also an occasion to pay tribute to those who rendered unparalleled sacrifices for winning, and later preserving, our freedom.
2. The 14th day of August will always remind us how Muslims of the Indian subcontinent, under the leadership of Quaid-e-Azam, took on tremendous odds to win their right to a separate national and religious identity. Perhaps, no other nation in modern history has paid a higher price for its independence.
3. We should always remember that Pakistan was not created only as a geographical entity. Rather, Pakistan was to become an ideal Islamic welfare state that would showcase how Islam’s golden principles can form the basis for a modern and tolerant society. A society wherein not only Muslims, but the minorities would also be guaranteed security of life, property and religious freedom. It is this later part, which is the unfinished agenda of 1947. We will only be able to truly honour the sacrifices of our elders when our society becomes a true reflection of the very spirit of Islam.
4. Today, we are living through the decisive moments of our history. Disillusionment, desperation, religious bigotry, political disharmony and discord seem to permeate our lives. Naturally, the forces hostile to our motherland are benefitting from internal weaknesses and resulting uncertainty in the country. Blaming such anti-Pakistan elements aside, our efforts must be directed towards stabilizing the internal front.
5. Today, extremism and terrorism present a grave challenge. We can claim that this menace is not of our making. This approach, however, will not solve the problem. It is important for us to clearly understand, what is extremism and terrorism. Misconceptions about these two terminologies, can prove catastrophically divisive for the nation.
6. We are faithful Muslims, without any reservations. It is an important article of our faith that only Allah can, and will decide who is a lesser or better Muslim. We must also remember, without doubt, that Pakistan was created in the name of Islam. No one can separate Islam from Pakistan.
7. Any person who believes his opinion to be the final verdict, is an extremist. The perfect or universal intellect, is only attributable to Allah. Man, a temporal being, is born with an imperfect intellect, beset with limitations. A human claim to be the final word in judging right from wrong, is tantamount to a claim to divine attributes, or shirk.
8. As a human being, It would be wrong for me to give the verdict that today's parade was the best in the world. I have not witnessed all the parades in the world. More importantly, can my criterion for this judgment be considered final? if I cannot give the final verdict in such a small issue, then how is it possible to do so in the intricate issues dealing with religion and life. It becomes blatant extremism when one not only insists upon finality of personal opinion, but tries imposing it on others. More so, if one tries to enforce his opinion through use of gun, it becomes terrorism. That is why Islam does not allow anyone to claim to be a know all, and flirt with divinity.
9. If this is the correct definition of extremism and terrorism, then the war against it is our own war, and a just war too. Any misgivings in this regards can divide us internally, leading to a civil war situation. It is therefore, vital that our minds must be clear of cobwebs on this crucial issue.
10. The war against extremism and terrorism is not only the Army's war, but that of the whole nation. We as a nation must stand united against this threat. Army's success is dependent on the will and support of the people. So far, Army and the people have rendered great sacrifices in this cause, for which I pay homage to the Shaheeds, Ghazis and their families. However, these sacrifices will be meaningful, if the civil administration is able to administer the affected areas without the Army's assistance. This may take some time, but it must remain our ultimate objective. It is also crucial that appropriate laws are passed to deal with terrorism. Since 2001, many countries in the world have formulated special anti terrorism laws. Unfortunately, our progress towards such legislation, remained very slow.
11. It is also vital to improve the condition of people living in affected areas. Pakistan Army, in collaboration with the Government, has already completed social and welfare projects worth 25 Billion rupees and is set to complete a similar quantum of work in the next two years.
12. We are fully aware that it is the most difficult task for any Army to fight its own people. This is always done as a last resort. Our ultimate aim is to bring peace to these areas so that the people can live a normal life. But for that to happen, it is critical that people abide by the constitution and law of the land. No state can afford a parallel system of governance and militias. Peace can only be sought in accordance with the principles of Islam, within the national constitution. Peace must be given a chance. No sane person can deny this. Therefore, any pragmatic solution which is within the bounds of constitution and owned by the society at large is possible.
13. You are well aware of the major concerns of common man in Pakistan regarding fragile economic situation, corruption and near breakdown of civic services. These concerns are sapping our will to see beyond the difficulties of daily life. However, the challenge that threatens us the most is preservation of National integrity and unity. We will succeed only when we are ready, united and demonstrate the will to face the challenge.
14. We are proud of our religion and our history. We know that Islam preaches humanity, not terrorism, and that it is the moral authority of Islam, and its truth, that made it a universal religion. We believe in the philosophy and struggle that made Pakistan possible. We must not be doubtful, or apologetic about it. Pakistan is a gift of our forefathers. Our generation has the obligation to leave a strong and prosperous Pakistan for posterity. We will discharge this duty for our children, regardless of the cost. It is necessary for us to understand our responsibilities and have faith that we can do it. I have no doubt that the nation has potential to deliver. We have to resolve our own issues. This is how proud nations do it. No outsider can, or will do it for us. If we want to see Pakistan as a respectable member of the comity of nations, there is only one way to do it and that is to have faith in ourselves, and the resolve that we can.
15. All of us have a share of the blame of our past, some more than others. But no nation has progressed by lamenting the past. We must look ahead if we are to progress. We must learn from the past, build our present and keep an eye on the future. It is time that we stand as one, and prove to the world that we are a vibrant and strong nation with a high sense of ethics and morality. This alone, is worthy of honour. The path is difficult and demands sacrifice, yet it remains the only true path available.
16. Let us, on this the 65th day of our Independence, pledge that we will understand and discharge our responsibilities and also, to pledge that we will sacrifice everything, for the security and prosperity of our beloved homeland. Ladies and gentlemen, the real question is not what Pakistan can do for us, but what can we do for Pakistan. Whatever we are, is because of Pakistan. Without it, we will be nothing.
Let us, on this historic and memorable day, promise that we the people of Pakistan and all national institutions will work to make Pakistan an ideal Islamic welfare state. Insha Allah.
I will end my speech with the prayer that may Allah forever remain the benefactor and protector of Pakistan.