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Politics & Policy

Solidarity Day observed

The manner in which men, women and children celebrated was most reassuring.

From SHAMIM AHMED RIZVI, Islamabad
Oct 08 - 14, 2001

The unprecedented display of unity from people of different shades of opinion and political affiliations during solidarity day celebrations on the call of President Gen. Musharraf on Sep, 27 was highly inspiring. The whole nation appeared united against external threats and its resolve for eradication of international terrorism.

The manner in which men, women and children celebrated the day with singleness of purpose was most reassuring. One felt as the nation has rediscovered itself. It must have sent to the outside world the right message of this Muslim nation's aims and aspirations as well as the strength of its determined and principled stand. In fact it was a convincing reaffirmation of the pledge with which the Pakistan has instantly joined the international community's US led war against international terrorism following the outrageons attacks in New York and Washington.

Coming in the midst of the Year of the Quaid-i-Azam as the government has identified the first year of the new millennium, it will be seen as all the more marked with the imprint of the principles of national behaviour enunciated by the great leader. Again, since the urge for display of national solidarity has been occasioned by Pakistan's bold and principled response to the world community's campaign against the nightmarish sway of menacing international terrorism, reassuring is it to note its significance. It will be painfully recalled that the nation, led astray from the path of its founding fathers has remained long devoid of the sense of direction, leading it into a long journey of obscurity. Many and varied have been the ordeals Pakistan has gone through, from which it has only recently started recovering.

The worst that has happened to this country is its loss of sense of direction that unfortunately provided an opportunity to the Quaid's detractors. Emboldened by the vacuum of dedicated leadership, they indulged in giving new ideas and meanings to his ideals and aspirations, as also to the purpose and obligations of the new nation. A reference to this tragic turn in the nation's history may also be found in President Musharraf's message for the Solidarity Day. For he has stated that unfortunately for the last couple of years some elements were exploiting Pakistan-Afghanistan relations for their vested interest, by inciting the innocent people on parochial, regional, sectarian and other prejudices, to prepare them for sacrifices for meaningless causes. This was directly in conflict with the clear injunctions of Islam against creating divisions among the believers. This, among other disquieting features, seems to have necessitated the call for forging unity by setting aside prejudices, egoism and petty expediencies and to support as one man the nation's stand in this hour of grave crisis for the humanity.

It will be noted that Pakistan had every reason to wait, watch and ponder before casting its weight on the side of the world community. For, primarily the wrath was unmistakably directed against Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, the country playing host to prime suspects Osama bin Laden, who has been on the wanted list of the United States. It will be recalled that Pakistan and the United States had acted closely together in the Afghan war of liberation against the Soviet Union. It was actually that war that paved the way for the collapse of the Soviet Union. However, the end of that war did not mean an end to hostilities inside Afghanistan as different factions of the liberation forces got engaged in a furious fight for power. However, signs of return to sanity found the Taliban forces in command of large parts of the war torn country, including capital Kabul. Subsequently, Pakistan, along with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, recognised it. Later, the unfolding events in Afghanistan can be seen as standing in the way of similar recognition from other countries even from inside the Islamic world. Nevertheless Pakistan continued to maintain good neighbourly relations, in keeping with its tradition. This was precisely how it was enabled to do whatever it could do to influence Kabul to defuse tension with the United States.

It was, indeed, a difficult and challenging decision on the part of Pakistan to join the campaign against terrorism, as primarily directed against Afghanistan. However, as a matter of international obligation, Pakistan decided to take a principled stand. And in so doing the government of General Pervez Musharraf will be seen as inspired by the golden rules of the nation's foreign policy set soon after its emergence as a separate, independent State. This, indeed, has reference to the message of the Father of the Nation, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah on the occasion of the inauguration of Pakistan Broadcasting Services, on 15 August 1947, in which he had clearly said "our object should be peace within and peace without. We want to live peacefully and maintain cordial and friendly relations with our immediate neighbours and with the world at large. We have no aggressive designs against any one. We stand by the United Nations Charter and will gladly make our full contribution to the peace and prosperity of the World". This will be seen adequately reflected in President Musharraf's message for the Pakistan Solidarity Day.