I speak to you today as
finds itself under siege from an extraordinary set of Pakistan
internal and external challenges. By now, all of us have heard about the dramatic US
operation that led to Bin Laden’s death in Abbottabad.
I would like to begin my address today by apologizing to the people of
. As Pakistan
President of the Islamic
, I personally let this country down by not republic of Pakistan
speaking out when the country needed its leaders to stand up and clarify
role and position on Osama’s death.
With this speech, I hope to change all that.
The truth is that my advisors warned me against publicly discussing
’s role in the hunt for and eventual death of Osama Bin Laden. I was warned that Osama’s death could spark a series of spectacular terrorist attacks in Pakistan that could result in the death of hundreds if not thousands of civilians. This was a decision that I could not take lightly. Pakistan
You will all remember that I lost my wife to a terrorist’s bullet. I know the pain of losing a loved one and I didn’t want my people to suffer the same.
But today, we face a collective choice as a country. We can bury our heads in the sand or we can stand up to the challenges that confront us. I’ve made a decision that we can no longer afford to bury our heads in the sand.
I have always argued that democracy is the best revenge and I refuse to keep you, the citizens of this country, in the dark about your government’s actions.
The truth is that
is at war with militants who have declared Jihad on the Pakistani state apparatus and by extension, the Pakistani people and our way of life. We did not start this war and we don’t want to fight this war. Pakistan
It’s not easy for any of us to see the Pakistani military killing fellow Muslims, no matter how violent their ideology is.
After the attacks on 9/11,
America declared war on Al Qaeda and Taliban in . Afghanistan Pakistan chose to side with in this war, without any significant conditions attached to our loyalty. America
If I could go back in time, I might have been firmer in my negotiations and not compromised our sovereignty in a wholesale deal. But we can’t go back in time… I can only deal with the cards I’ve been dealt.
is at war with militants who threaten our way of life. This is partly because we chose to become allies with the Pakistan in its “War on Terror.” And partly because our state has been playing a strategic double game; supporting militants who could become our allies in a post-US Afghanistan and confronting militants who are directly threatening Pakistan’s security. United States
Our double game has been criticized by many “experts” who observe it in isolation, without historical or regional context.
Today... let me publicly reveal why we started this double game. Our security establishment calculated that the
US is a fickle partner and would leave and the region at a timeline determined by their domestic political considerations. The Afghanistan US has done this before when it abandoned Afghanistan and our region in the late 80’s, leaving to clean up after its mess. We didn’t want to be caught off guard when history repeated itself. Pakistan
Unfortunately, our double game has back fired.
We had never expected these “Muslim” militants to start blowing up Pakistani girls in their schools or open fire on teenage boys as they prayed Juma in
. We had never expected the militants to attack the Sri Lankan cricket team, our country’s official guests. Rawalpindi
These militants have used Islam as a cover and
America’s occupation of Afghanistan as a justification to orphan our children and turn countless women into unaided widows. Pakistan
Enough is enough.
As I told the world in my Washington Post article, more Pakistani soldiers have died in the war than all of NATO’s casualties combined. Two thousand Pakistani police officers, 30,000 innocent civilians and a generation of social progress in
have been lost in this war. Pakistan
Despite our country’s sacrifices, the Americans didn’t consult us when they chose to take out Bin Laden. We were later told that this was because the
US didn’t fully trust . They were worried that some elements within the Pakistani state might tip off Bin Laden. Pakistan
We have no one to blame but ourselves for this spectacular demise in our international credibility.
And while there is plenty of blame to go around, as the democratically elected President of Pakistan, the buck stops with me.
The time has come for us as a nation to raise our heads from the sand and confront head on the task that lies ahead of us.
Today… I’m announcing the news of an all-parties roundtable summit to be held later this month in order to build consensus on how together, as Pakistanis, we can fight the challenges that confront us.
I’m also inviting members of the civil society, the academia and our business community to contribute their ideas and take ownership of a counter militancy strategy that has a strong emphasis on economic empowerment, education, an end to double games by our security establishment and re-calibrating our relationship with the
I would like to end my address by remembering the 30,000 Pakistanis who have lost their lives in this ugly war. Let us make a promise to them today… that we will not let their sacrifices go in vain.
From now on, no more cover ups and double games. For better or for worse, your government will be honest and transparent in its communication. Come what may, we are in this together.
P.S. The idea for “The President’s Speech (that wasn’t)” was inspired by a blog post
written by my friend and class mate Ahmed al-Omran titled “The King’s Speech (that
wasn’t).” Ahmed blogs on Saudijeans.org