I deregulated the media and its the freest in Pakistan history: Musharraf

December 3rd, 2007 - 4:23 pm ICT by admin  

Islamabad, Dec 3 (ANI): President Pervez Musharraf has said that he has deregulated the media to where it is the freest in the history of Pakistan, but added that it is expected to exercise its freedom with responsibility.
“I have always believed in the freedom of expression and have respected differences of opinion, and I will continue to do so in the future. We have sought to create a government balanced between the executive, legislative and judiciary branches, coupled with a vibrant, peaceful and productive civil society,” Musharraf writes in the Washington Post.
Musharraf says attacks by foreign terrorists and explosions carried out by suicide bombers had caused him to take unpopular and extraordinary actions to protect civil order.
Those actions have succeeded in minimising violence and the vulnerability to attacks, with costs incurred to civil liberty and institutional balance, he added.
Through all this, my commitment to free elections has not wavered and, we will have elections in January 2008, Musharraf says.
He writes that he would judge Pakistan’s elections a success if they meet two criteria. First, they must take place in a free and safe environment.
“We cannot allow terrorists to hijack this critical democratic institution through violence. Nor can we allow self-serving politicians to disrupt the consensus required to continue the fight against terror,” he says.
Second, “we must move beyond personalities to debate a vision for Pakistan: A vision that builds upon our achievements, leveraging Pakistan’s intrinsic strengths, and taking the people beyond a narrow-minded focus to an integrated perspective reflecting development, justice, and prosperity,” he added.
“We are confident in our ability to provide security. But as America knows well, a secure future requires more than physical security. Our literacy rate of 54 per cent must be raised,” says Musharraf.
One hundred million Pakistanis (63 per cent of the population) are under 25 years of age, and a vocal minority of extremists intimidates many. We need to continue developing the economic opportunity that will give these young people the hope and encouragement to persuade them not to fall prey to extremist rhetoric, he adds.
Musharraf emphasises that even beyond the national borders, his concept of “Enlightened Moderation” needs to be used as a bridge between the West and the alienated Islamic world.
He supported Senator Joseph Bidens speech before the Centre for US Global Engagement, calling for “A New Approach to Pakistan.”
Musharraf writes that Senator Biden got many things right. He lauded Pakistan’s tradition of democracy, recognised our “large moderate majority” and stressed that a secure Pakistan is a Pakistan in which free institutions are made self-perpetuating by strong economic progress.
Biden recognised that the building of schools, hospitals and infrastructure would support advancement of the Pakistani people and bring them out of the poverty trap of the past, Musharraf says.
Indeed, over the past eight years, Pakistan has built a solid foundation for an economically vibrant Pakistan. We have maintained one of Asia’s highest GDP growth rates at 7.5 per cent, increased our per-capita income by 38 per cent, and achieved a record high foreign investment of 8.4 billion dollars.
Taking advantage of our geo-strategic position, Pakistan has improved the infrastructure environment by investing in public sector development funds and promoting public-private partnerships towards infrastructure mega-projects, he writes.
We have created a strong system of local governance where elected representatives manage their local districts with the help of civil administration, thereby significantly empowering the masses at the grassroots level.
Senator Biden was incorrect when he referenced a “Musharraf policy” separate from a “Pakistan policy”.
“I have never had a policy separate from a “Pakistan policy. My policies have reflected the aspirations of the progressive, moderate forces in Pakistan that have been aimed at containing the growing extremist forces fuelled by regional unrest,” Musharraf says.
Pakistan’s physical security and that of the world necessitates that religious extremists are sidelined; that Pakistan’s natural resources and nuclear assets are protected; and that military morale remains high, he adds. (ANI)

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