A speech that Pakistan's dictator ought to make but never would.
My dear countrymen, Assalam Alaikum.
My greetings to you on the occasion of 14th August - the day Pakistan achieved its independence from the British and came into existence.
The country has witnessed a series of changes under my leadership since 1999. The newspapers write with more abandon, there is a splurge of private television channels, there are dozens of FM radio stations voicing independent opinions. Pakistan is truly reaching a level of democracy which it did not witness in the earlier so-called democratic regimes.
I have also spared no attempts to normalize relations with India. Pakistan wants peace with honor. It is essential for an everlasting harmony between the two neighbors that the core issue of Kashmir should be solved to the satisfaction of all the parties concerned.
My fellow Pakistanis, I have noticed that in spite of an all-round development, in spite of the rising indices of the Karachi Stock Exchange, in spite of our shining motorways which can shame our neighbor's infrastructure, in spite of our ample foreign reserves, the country appears to be less hopeful on reaching the 60th year of its independence.
There must be no confusion about Pakistan's success as a country. This humble man, who was born in Delhi and migrated later to a newly created Pakistan, went on to become the army chief and President. Certainly it is not possible in a nation which is not confident of itself.
Dear countrymen, on the seventh year of my rule, I wish to share some of my reflections with you. A country is bigger than an individual. The presidents die and are buried in the graveyards but the nation lives on. A good ruler might introduce far-reaching reforms but a responsible ruler has to make sure that the changes survive his power tenure.
Therefore I offer to resign as Pakistan's President and Army Chief at the end of this year. I also invite former Prime Ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharief to end their exile and return to Pakistan and test their popularity by contesting elections and prove their honesty by fighting the corruption charges. I give assurance that this government would not interfere with the court proceedings and neither would it influence the national elections whose date would be announced later.
A true democracy consists not only of voting in a government in a free and fair election, but also voting out a government. This is a pleasure that has never been exercised by the people of my country. I propose to bring about laws in the constitution which would render it impossible for anybody to topple a government with undemocratic means. Stringent laws would be devised to guarantee that power changes are brought about only by the people of Pakistan or their representatives in the parliament.
Fellow countrymen, you realize well that what dangers are being faced on many fronts. There is unrest in the province of resource-rich Baluchistan. Al Qaeda is trying to spark trouble in the North West Frontier Province. India is threatening to target Azad Kashmir .
While I am prepared to accept the legitimate demands of the wayward leaders of Baluchistan and would make sure that the province receives its due share of development revenue from its gas reserves, I would not encourage any activity that might endanger the sovereignty of Pakistan.
As to fighting Al Qaeda and the threats from India, I propose to give a greater responsibility to the Pakistan army. There is envisaged a reduction in the role of Pakistan army in the day-to-day function of the administration so that more attention could be paid to the nation's security concerns. It is intended to completely phase out army's role in an arena which is rightfully the preserve of the civilians.
Finally, dear countrymen, I declare that Nishan-e-Pakistan - the country's highest civilian honor - will be awarded this year to Mukhtaran Bibi. She was an illiterate woman who took her rapists to the court, rather than hiding herself in shame which is normally the fate of victims like her. Later, with the financial help she received from her well wishers all around the world, she chose to open a girls' school in her village.
Pakistan is not honoring her to win a good impression in the international opinion, or due to pressure from any New York Times columnist, but to make a point that what happened to Mukhtaran was terrible and remains a world-wide scourge, but how our Mukhtaran responded was the essence of an unique Pakistani sprit.
Let the dreams of our founder leader - Muhammad Ali Jinnah - come true.
May Allah guide us on the path of truth and honor.
Allah Hafiz. Pakistan Paaindabad.