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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 40, September - October 1999

Military Coup in Pakistan
Speech by General Pervez Musharraf

"Text of Gen. Pervez Musharraf's speech, 17 October", reproduced in The Dawn newspaper, Pakistan, October 18, 1999.

"Pakistan today stands at the crossroads of its destiny... [W]e have lost our honour, our dignity, our respect in the comity of nations. ... Is this the way to enter the new millennium? ...

My fellow Pakistanis, as you are aware I took over in extremely unusual circumstances - not of my making. It is unbelievable and indeed unfortunate that the few at the helm of affairs in the last Government were intriguing to destroy the last institution of stability left in Pakistan by creating dissension in the ranks of the armed forces of Pakistan. ... My dear countrymen, the choice before us on 12 October was between saving the body - that is, the nation - at the cost of losing a limb - which is the Constitution - or saving the limb and losing the whole body. ... The Constitution has only been temporarily held in abeyance. This is not martial law, only another path towards democracy. ...

I wish to reassure the international community that there is no change in our foreign policy. ... Here I would like to mention two key areas of our external relations: international security and disarmament, and our relations with India. Pakistan has always been alive to international non-proliferation concerns. Last year, we were compelled to respond to India's nuclear tests in order to restore strategic balance in the interest of our national security and regional peace and stability. In the new nuclear environment in South Asia, we believe that both Pakistan and India have to exercise utmost restraint and responsibility. We owe it to our people and to the world. I wish to assure the world community that, while preserving its vital security interests, Pakistan will continue to pursue a policy of nuclear and missile restraint and sensitivity to global non-proliferation and disarmament objectives.

As for relations with India, let me at the outset congratulate Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee on assumption of office as the Prime Minister of India. I welcome his offer for friendly relations and positively reciprocate. ... [The] 20th Century saw our transition to independence, but the region has unfortunately remained mired in conflicts and economic deprivation. Together Pakistan and India can change this scenario. For this objective, both must sincerely work together towards resolving their problems, especially the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir. ...

Pakistan would welcome unconditional, equitable and result-oriented dialogue with India. While our armed forces are fully equipped and ready to defend our national sovereignty and territorial integrity, it is our desire that the situation on our borders with India and on the Line of Control [LoC] should remain calm and peaceful. I take this opportunity to announce a unilateral military de-escalation on our international borders with India and initiate the return of all our forces moved to the borders in the recent past. I hope this step would serve as a meaningful confidence-building measure. ... "

© 1999 The Acronym Institute.

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