THE PRESIDENT OF PAKISTAN,
GENERAL MOHAMMED ZIA–UL–HAQ‘S SPEECH BEFORE THE 35TH SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY, ON I OCTOBER 1980,
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
Today the World of Islam is on the threshold of the 15th century of its glorious and eventful history. Another 40 days will usher in the beginning of a new Islamic century. The Muslims all over the world will be celebrating the fourteen hundredth anniversary of a unique event, which was chosen by the Second Caliph of Islam, Hazrat Umar Ibn al–Khattab, (may God be pleased with him) as the beginning of the Islamic Hijra calendar. The Hijra calendar commemorates neither the Prophet‘s birthday, nor the time when the message of God was first revealed to him. It commemo rates an event which was to become a turning point in the evolution of Islam. That event was the Hijra, or the departure of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) with a small group of devoted followers from his place of birth–Mecca—for the city over four hundred kilometres away-the city of Medina. The departure to Medina was chosen as the starting point of the Islamic calendar, because it marked the founding of the Islamic polity.
While in Mecca, Islam emerged as a moral force, it was Medina which had the honour of being the cradle of the first Islamic State under the guidance of the Prophet himself. This State was founded on the basis of the universally applicable moral principles revealed in the Quran. This first Islamic polity symbolised the happy blending of the citizens of Medina called Ansars or the Helpers—and the Muhajireen, or the Refugees, from Mecca. A union of great importance had thus emerged. Together, the two communities formed the nucleus of the Islamic Ummah, or the great brotherhood of Islam. The idea embodied in this concept served as a beacon for the humanity at large.
Leaving his place of birth, the home of his ancestors, the kith and kin to whom he was deeply attached, was undoubtedly a great ordeal for the Prophet. With his reputation for unimpeachable integrity-he was called by everyone alike as Al–Amin, the trustworthy. His gentle disposition and nobility of character endeared him to one and all. He could have stayed on in Mecca as a highly respectable member of the leading Hashemite clan to which he belonged, if only he would stop preach ing what God commanded him to preach. His refusal to do so turned the hostility of the people of Mecca into unbridled fury.
Thus, the founding of the first Islamic State in Medina represented, on the one hand, the rejection of the suffocating environment of bigotry, Intolerance, tryanny, oppression and moral turpitude, and, on the other hand the determination of the new-born Islamic community to promote understanding, tolerance, brotherhood, and freedom as imperatives of state policy. From now on the world was to witness, emanating in suc cession from Medina, developments of monumental significance in the history of mankind.
It was a great honour for me and my country that I have been given this opportunity to address the Thirty–fifth Session of the United Nations General Assembly on behalf of 900 million fellow–Muslims in commemora tion of such an epoch–making event in human history. I do so with deep humility in response to the mandate conferred upon me by the Eleventh Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers which Pakistan was privileged to host last May.
I am grateful to you, Mr President, for your kind words of welcome, and take this opportunity to convey to you my personal congratulations, and those of the government and people of Pakistan, on your election as President of the Thirty–fifth Session of the General Assembly.
To you, Mr Secretary–General, I wish to express our profound admira tion for the qualities and experience, which you possess in such abundant measure. During your two terms of office, you have been called upon to deal with some of the most difficult problems which the world organiza tion has had to face. You have done so with great distinction, and we wish you continued success in the future.
Speaking as a humble believer, I am particularly conscious of the Islamic injunction to rise above race, colour and creed and to perceive fellow human beings in terms of universal brotherhood. Islam, by its very definition, is a religion of peace and submission to the Divine will. It
demands of its followers to strive, individually as well as collectively, for the creation of a human society based on justice and equality.
It is most appropriate for me on such an occasion, and before such a distinguished audience, representing the entire world community, to Speak of the Islamic virtues of tolerance and compassion, which brought about a synthesis of civilizations, and a balanced intermingling of diverse faiths and beliefs. Islam rejects narrow nationalism, parochialism, and racial elitism. The inter-communal peace and harmony, prevailing during the period of more than a thousand years of Islamic ascendancy, stands in sharp contrast with the present-day racial arrogance, discrimination and persecution which are practised in certain parts of the globe today.
The true foundation of the peace and tranquillity, which characterized the prime period of Islamic ascendancy, lies in the great Islamic virtues, symbolised in particular by the concept of universal brotherhood, tolerance, and respect for the sanctity of life. The Holy Quran says:
“He who slays one human being, it is as if he had slain all mankind; he who saves one human being it is as if he had saved all mankind“. (5:35)
Islam specifically forbids wars of aggression, and permits recourse to arms only in self-defence. The Holy Quran says:
“Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you; but you do not begin the hostilities; for Allah does not love aggression“. (2:186)
The Islamic concept of Jihad epitomizes the precepts so explicitly enunciated in these verses from the Holy Quran. There is, indeed, an element of struggle in Jihad, a continuous struggle––constant striving—to lead life, in its totality, in the light of the message of the Holy Quran, and in the tradition of the Prophet of Islam.
The Islamic message of universal brotherhood, peace and equity is of eternal value, and is more than ever relevant to the conditions prevailing in today‘s world. Ever since the birth of this world, man has had his share of conflicts and difficulties. The confrontation of civilizations and faiths in the past, did not lead to annihilation of the human race because, merci fully, the means of mass destruction were limited. Today, we have stepped into an age wherein humanity has, at its disposal, the means of destroying Itself several times over. The world can no longer afford the luxury of confrontation and wars. Mankind needs peace. Let us all try to achieve peace within, and peace without.
There is yet another form of confrontation, besides the nuclear arms race, that threatens human survival. It is the confrontation between
Man’s selfishness and Nature. His insatiable pursuit of material comforts has led him to reckless destruction of the natural environment. The ecological crisis faced by our planet today, particularly by the highly indus trialised nations, has reached such alarming proportions that the ques tions must be asked: Has not Man burnt his fingers in the fire which he himself kindled? Has he not lost his sense of proportion in his earthly scheme of priorities? Does he not understand that this world is not his personal property, but a trust from the Almighty Who created it? As the Holy Quran says:
“In the alternation of day and night, in the rains from Heaven that come to quicken the parched earth in the shifting winds, and in the clouds pressed into service between heaven and earth, there are signs enough of Allah‘s rule for people who have understanding“. (2:159)
It is this understanding that can help the present-day world to regain the equilibrium It seems to have lost.
The followers of Islam believe that their faith represents that ultimate perfection of the Divine message which has flowed to mankind through a succession of Prophets. Muslims are enjoined to accept the missions of all the Prophets who preceded Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him). In the Holy Quran, it is stated:
The Prophet of Islam himself said:
“I believe in the one Allah, in His revealed Books, in His message bearing Prophets, in the Hereafter“.
It is noteworthy that the Prophet spoke of “the revealed Books”, and not merely of the Book. Similarly, he spoke of God’s “message-bearing Prophets’, and not merely of one Prophet, that would be himself. We Muslims are bound by our Faith to believe in all the Prophets and the revealed Books from Adam to Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) who is the last of the Prophets.
The great Islamic community today straddles a broad geographical belt from Indonesia in the East to Senegal in the West. Living in different climes, and under different customs and political systems, speaking different languages and dialects, Muslims all over the world retain an abiding sense of Islamic affinity. It is this unity in diversity which is the hallmark of
the Muslim Ummah, or the Commonwealth of Muslim Nations. The Islamic Conference, of which I have the honour to be the current Chair man, constitutes a concrete manifestation of the urge of the Muslim Ummah to re-establish its historic role as a factor for peace and progress, and to re-assert the overriding unity of the Muslim peoples scattered over the globe.
As we stand at the threshold of the 15th century of Hijra, we can look with pride to the fact that the Islamic countries have regained their political independence, and are working closely to obtain their rightful
the world. Their desire for unity is manifested in the 42–member Islamic Conference, which has come to acquire an eminent place among International organizations, and whose decisions are assuming ever–in creasing importance in the international community.
The spread of Islam led to a creative encounter between the first Islamic people of Arabia and the major cultures of Persia, Greece, Egypt and India, resulting in an unprecedented flowering of the human genius. This great epoch of creative activity, that began in the second century Hijra, lasted several hundred years. Both in the heartland of Islam, re presented by the great traditions of Caliphs, and in the no less glorious Islamic cultures, which developed in far off places such as Spain, India, Central Asia, Asia Minor, Africa and Southeast Asia, the triumphant spirit of Man, emancipated and enriched by Islam, manifested itself in remark able advances in arts and sciences. This was the era in which were laid the foundations of modern learning and knowledge.
It gives me pleasure to recall that the human progress is heavily indebted to the early Muslim scholars, philosophers, scientists, and physi cians, who made outstanding original contributions in their respective fields and disciplines, rescued the best in the ancient Greco–Roman civiliza tion, and passed this treasure on to the West. Who can forget the im mortals like Averroes, Ibne Sina, Ibne Haitham, Ibne Khaldun, Alberuni and Omar Khayyam?
These are but a few of the galaxy of illustrious Muslims who extended the frontiers of knowledge, and enriched human experience. It was their enlightened approach to the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge that made this progress possible. They sought and acquired knowledge from whatever source it was available from the Greeks and Romans, the Chinese, the Persians, the Hindus, the Buddhists, and the rest. The Prophet had urged them to do so. Permit me to read four out of many quotations from the teachings of the Prophet.
(1) “Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave”,
(2) “Whoever seeks knowledge and finds it will get two rewards: one for seeking, and the other for finding. If he does not find it, he still has one reward”.
(3) “The ink of the scholar is holier than the blood of the martyr”.
(4) “It is better to impart knowledge one hour than to pray all night‘‘.
The emphasis in these quotes is not only on seeking knowledge, but also on sharing it with others for the progress of mankind as a whole. There is a lesson in this for the present day world where access to vitally useful knowledge, indispensable for human progress and prosperity, is allowed on a selective basis, and is, indeed, being denied by the privileged few to the less fortunate many who need it most.
The Islamic World was instrumental not only in generating the first intellectual stirrings, which prepared the ground for the European Renais sance, but also in acting as a bulwark for the defence of Western civilization against the Mongol hordes, that descended like an elemental force of nature. But for the Islamic World, which bore the brunt of the Mongol onslaught, Europe would have been overwhelmed in the seventh century Hijra, that is, the thirteenth century A.D. It is, indeed, a tragic irony of fact that those very people who were thus saved by the Muslims, turned round to occupy and pillage Muslim lands, and convert them into their prize colonies.
While this unhappy period in Islamic history is undoubtedly behind us, its evil consequences remain to be eradicated. Political independence regained by Muslim countries has not loosened the tenacious grip of economic exploitation, which goes hand in hand with colonialism. Con tinued dependence on the industrially developed world has aggravated their plight. Their crucial strategic location has generated intolerable pressures from powers seeking hegemony and coveting their vital natural resources.
The feelings of insecurity across much of the globe today is attribut able to the continuing tendency to use force and pressure for the control and exploitation of scarce resources. The distress caused by this pheno menon is writ large on the faces of both the exploited and the exploiter. What will this lead us to? The Holy Quran warns mankind against it thus:
“To him who is covetous and bent on riches… to him will the path of distress be made easy.” (92:8-10)
While on the subject of conflicts generated by avarice and greed, I may be allowed to present, before this august Assembly, how we Muslims perceive some of the critical areas of tension on the world map.
The tragic conflict between the two Islamic states of Iran and Iraq is a source of deep concern to the world community. It causes profound anguish to the world of Islam in particular. This violent conflict between two brotherly Islamic states is attributable to the unstable conditions created in a strategic area by the pressures and counter-pressures of super power rivalry. We fervently hope that peace between these two neigh bouring countries will return soon. It is the duty of the international community and in particular that of the Islamic and non–aligned worlds to make a positive contribution towards the resolution of the differences between Iran and Iraq. An essential condition for the return of peace between them would be the observance of strict neutrality and non interference in their internal affairs by the outside powers.
As you are aware, I have come to New York directly from the capitals of these two countries where I was warmly received in a spirit of Islamic fraternity by President Banisadr and President Sadaam Hussein. My mission was undertaken at the behest of the Islamic Conference. Its pur pose was essentially one of goodwill. I was able to ascertain the views of my two brothers in a series of meetings in an atmosphere of mutual trust and confidence. I have faithfully conveyed to each brother the view and position of the other in regard to cessation of hostilities. It is my earnest hope and prayer that efforts will continue to end the tragic conflict between Iran and Iraq and that a peaceful solution will be found to their differences on the basis of justice, respect for each other‘s rights and in the spirit of Islamic solidarity and brotherhood.
By far easily the most destabilizing factor in the Middle East is Israel. Who can deny the justice of the cause of the Palestinian people who have been mercilessly uprooted from their sacred land after being in continuous possession for the best part of 1400 years, and who have been suffering untold oppression, tyranny and terrorism practised against them by the Zionist entity?
The threat posed to world peace by the Palestinian problem is all too evident. The situation can explode at any moment. The resulting conflagration could envelop the world with a disaster the magnitude of which has not been seen before. Injustice and oppression rouse strong sentiments; these sentiments cannot be suppressed by arrogant reliance
on force and coercion, nor smothered by unremitting persecution. Israel, which is so ready to invoke the past, should not forget the oft-repeated lesson of history that its policy of annexation and domination is doomed to failure. History has the habit of unceremoniously repeating itself.
Notwithstanding protestations of the desire to bring about a peaceful solution of the Palestinian problem, in the context of the Middle East situation, the stark reality is that Israel continues to defy the will of the world Community, expressed through this very forum and the Security Council on numerous occasions. It continues to occupy Arab and Palestinian land by force. It cynically disregards the near-unanimous world verdict on Jerusalem by passing a law to change the status of Jerusalem. The Security Council reacted by calling upon all countries having their diplomatic missions in Jerusalem, to shift them. The response was unanimous and prompt.
I take this opportunity to offer profound thanks to all the thirteen countries, namely, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Re public, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Netherlands, Panama, Uruguay and Venezuela, which have removed their diplomatic missions from Jerusalem to show their displeasure at Israel’s defiance of international law and public opinion. We salute them for their principled decision. Is it not time for further action by the world community so that the condi tions stipulated generally by the world opinion, and specially by the Islamic Conference on the Palestinian problem, are met, and peace returns to the Middle East? Let there be no illusion that wounds inflicted on the Palestinians can be healed by the passage of time. Now is the time to act, before it is too late.
The United States claims that it has vital economic and strategic Interests in the Middle East and North Africa, which is not only the home land of the Arab people, but constitutes the strategic frontiers of Europe. Yet, it pursues a policy which brings it into hostile confrontation with the Arab World and extends open-ended support to Israel; which encourages that country to pursue aggressive policies in defiance of world opinion. The United States bears a heavy responsibility in this respect, since reliance on the might of this super power enables Israel to flout the verdict of the international commuity, and to usurp the legitimate rights of the people of Palestine.
The Muslim World wholeheartedly supports the just struggle of the people of Palestine under the leadership of their legitimate, and sole repre sentative, the Palestine Liberation Organization, for the liberation of their sacred territory from Zlonist rule and occupation. It considers that
the issue of Palestine is at the core of the Middle East question. Successive Islamic Conferences have demanded:
(a) The complete withdrawal of all Israeli forces from all the occupied Arab territories, including Jerusalem;
(b) The exercise by the people of Palestine of their inalienable national rights, including the right to establish a sovereign state of their own in their homeland under the leadership of Palestine Liberation Organization; and
(c) The dismantling of all the so–called “settlements” in occupied Arab territories.
Until these just demands are met in full, the prospect of a genuine and lasting peace in the Middle East will elude us, and the world will continue to be haunted by the spectre of a wider conflict in which the interests of those who protect Israel will suffer most.
The World of Islam is profoundly concerned with the tragedy that has overtaken Afghanistan. This small, independent, non–aligned Muslim country has been subjected to military intervention on a massive scale in violation of the national rights of the Afghan people and the sacrosanct principles of non–alignment and the United Nations Charter. True to their centuries–old national tradition, and unconquerable spirit of in dependence, the people of Afghanistan have responded to the challenge with fearless resistance through the length and breadth of their country. Their struggle is as sacrosanct, and worthy of respect and support, as the heroic struggles of the Algerian people, the people of Zimbabwe-and, indeed, of all the oppressed and exploited people of the world, at one time or another-against foreign domination.
The deeply-felt resentment of the international community, and of the Muslim World in particular, against this act of aggression has been clearly expressed in the demand for the immediate, unconditional, and total withdrawal of Soviet military forces from Afghanistan. The Eleventh Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers, which met in Islamabad in May last, set in motion a process of resolving the Afghan crisis through peaceful negotiations. It adopted a resolution, establishing a Standing Committee comprising of Foreign Ministers of Iran and Pakistan and the Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, with a view to holding consultations with all parties to bring about a solution based on the following principles:
(a) The immediate, unconditional, and total withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan;
(b) The restoration of the independence and non-aligned status of Afghanistan;
(c) Respect for the right of the Afghan people to determine their own destiny, and to choose their own form of government in accordance with their own wishes, free from external interference; and
(d) The creation of conditions which would permit the Afghan refugees to return to their homes in safety and honour.
It is a matter of deep regret that this valuable initiative of the Islamic Conference has been presently stalled by the overall negative attitudes of the Kabul regime. I am confident that this august assembly will address itself to the urgent task of promoting a political solution of the crisis in Afghanistan in accordance with these principles.
In the meantime, more than a million Afghan refugees have crossed the 1400–mile border into Pakistan, while others have taken shelter in Iran. Entire communities of men, women and children, uprooted from their hearths and homes by the violence of the conflict, have continued to pour into Pakistan. My country is providing them with shelter in a humanitarian spirit, and in conformity with the tradition of Islamic brother hood. It is a task of awesome magnitude in view of Pakistan‘s limited resources. We are grateful for the assistance, received for the purpose, from brotherly Muslim countries, and other friendly nations, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and various international agencies ar.d humanitarian organizations, including Hilal–i-Ahmar, Red Crescent and Red Cross societies.
People do not leave the comforts of their hearths and homes, to face the privations of life in exile, without compelling reasons. The Afghan refugees on our soil have had to leave their country, because life was made unbearable for them. The orchestrated propaganda campaign, accusing Pakistan of interference in Afghanistan’s internal affairs, cannot mislead the world. It cannot conceal the truth that the insurgency in Afghanistan is a manifestation of the patriotic upsurge of a proud people, who have never yielded to foreign domination. I wish to restate Pakistan’s commitment to the principle of non-interference in the affairs of other states, and categorically reject the allegation that Pakistan is in any way involved in the insurgency in Afghanistan.
It is interesting to note that this insurgency is mainly in the interior of Afghanistan, where brave men and women, brave boys and girls, brave peasants and workers are fighting to free themselves from the forcible occupation of their territory by foreign troops. What is surprising is the attitude of big powers; one has accused the other of an effort to strangulate it. Surely the answer to the presence of troops of one country in an island of Indian Ocean cannot be accepted as an excuse by another to send troops into another independent country.
A situation similar to that in Afghanistan exists in Kampuchea. Here, again a regime has been foisted by the foreign occupation forces, leading to a mass exodus of the Kampuchean people, who have endured great suffer ing and privation. In both cases, principles of international law and peaceful coexistence have been violated.
The World of Islam does not believe that there can be genuine inter national security so long as it is predicated on an unstable balance of terror, and a continuous escalation of the arms race. We have welcomed measures in the past, aimed at relaxing tensions between the two super powers, and whole heartedly support their efforts to limit and control strategic nuclear weapons. Muslim countries favour a genuine detente, but not a detente based on a division of the world into spheres of influence by the two super powers, because such an arrangement would be at the expense of the Islamic and non–aligned world. We cannot subscribe to a detente which is designed to keep certain areas of the globe tension free, while exposing others to subversion and aggression in any shape or form. We want peace. We want peace with dignity. We want peace with respect. We want peace with honour. We firmly believe that peace is indivisible, and must encompass all parts of the globe. It cannot be selective in its scope or application.
The World of Islam has invariably been at the forefront in espousing the right of peoples to self–determination and independence as a matter of principle. The attainment of independence by nearly 100 countries, since the Second World War, is a matter of profound satisfaction to all of us. The success of the valiant struggle, waged by the African peoples, is a glorious chapter in the annals of freedom. We pay tribute to the indomitable spirit of the great liberation movements, and particularly to the memory of those martyrs whose supreme sacrifice has made this historic achievement possible.
The presence of Zimbabwe among us, today, as a full-fledged member of the United Nations, symbolizes the heroic achievements of the Con tinent of Africa, and offers fresh hope to the people of Namibia and South Africa, where the tentacles of colonialism and racist minority–rule maintain an iron hold today. Our prayers, and whatever moral and material support is required of us, will always be with the freedom fighters of South Africa. Their problems are our problems. Their difficulties are our difficulties. Their struggle is our struggle. The clock is in their favour. They shall succeed, because their cause is just.
The tide of independence cannot be reversed any more than one can successfully bid a yesterday to return. Indeed, all efforts to keep people under some one’s subjugation, or to turn countries into colonies such is the verdict of modern history-are fore-doomed to failure.
The policies of racial discrimination, apartheid and minority rule being followed by South Africa are repugnant to the letter and spirit of Islam and international morality. We are convinced that nemesis will overtake whosoever practises racism and apartheid, or discriminates between one human being and another on the grounds of colour.
The Pretoria regime must be made to end its illegal occupation of Namibia, and its repressive policies and acts of violence in that territory and in South Africa. The Namibian people must be allowed to decide their future destiny through impartial elections under United Nations auspices. However great the difficulties may appear, we are confident of the ulti mate triumph of the people of Namibia under the leadership of SWAPO.
There is another form of discrimination, which is a matter of deep concern today to the World of Islam. The Muslim minorities, in various countries around the globe, number nearly 300 million. They are frequently discriminated against, and subjected to untold miseries because of rell gious prejudice. Their lives and properties are not always safe. In some countries, they are being systematically reduced to the status of serfs, in others, they are being forcibly expelled from their ancestral homes and driven to inhospitable regions. The very custodians of law and order have become, for them, instruments of acts of oppression and extermina tion. This is a challenge to the world conscience, and must be met firmly and fairly. It is a challenge to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which proclaims that everyone has the right to freedom of conscience and religion. How can the world conscience close its eyes to the fate of mil lions of human beings who are undergoing acute sufferings merely because
they profess a particular faith? True to the injunctions of Islam, our hearts go out not only to the Muslim minorities who are subjected to discrimina tion and oppression, but to all minority communities, regardless of their creed, colour or caste, who are made to suffer a similar fate.
To express humanitarian concern over the plight of these minorities, is not to interfere in the internal affairs of any state. The world community must not lose its capacity for moral anger which, in many cases, is per haps the only instrument it has to exert pressure on the oppressor of today.
The future of mankind will, indeed, be bleak if we allow our sensitivi ties to human suffering to be dulled, or our conscience to be stifled, at the sight of poverty and hunger. The Holy Prophet said:
“He is not a perfect Muslim who eats his fill, and lets his neighbour go hungry”;
“He who helps his fellowmen in the hour of need, him will Allah help on the Day of Judgement“.
This is as much true of individuals as of nations.
We, the peoples of the Islamic World, alongwith our brethren of the Third World, have suffered together the trauma of colonial domina tion, we have struggled, side by side, to attain our freedom; we have gone through the pangs of re–birth after independence; we have inherited similar problems; we are facing similar chalenges; we share the same disappointment in the non-realization of the rising hopes and expectations of our peoples.
The basis of the existing economic relationship between the developed and the developing countries is the principle or the lack of principle in this case–of justice and fairplay. The developing nations supply the raw materials, but the developed nations demand unjustly high prices of industrial goods they provide. We, of the Third World, are at the mercy of the International market, which is manipulated by a handful of industrialised countries. It is in the interest of the developed countries to realize that the advantages of such basically unsound tactics are short lived. We have entered an era of interdependence, and no single country can ensure its prosperity by adopting measures which frustrate the legiti mate aspiration of other countries, and other peoples. Exploitative and discriminatory practices, against the developing countries, are the root
cause of economic and political instability, which poses a great danger to the world peace and security. The time has surely come, if it is not late already, to establish a new economic order which would be durable, because it would be fair.
The Group of 77, representing the Third World, has been pressing its demand, since 1964, for an international economic order that would ensure optimum growth of world economy for the benefit of all countries, and all peoples. The North-South dialogue has dragged on as a futile exercise, for nearly a decade. In the meantime, the problems of poverty and deprivation of more than half the world have become further aggra vated, posing ever greater dangers to world stability.
Meanwhile, the Islamic World has made a start, with concerted measures, to pool its resources, and has established financial and banking institutions of its own for the purpose. In the fullness of time, these institu tions should enable the Muslims to achieve a substantial measure of economic self–reliance. In the true Islamic tradition, the oil–producing Muslim countries have shown a helpful attitude for alleviating the hardships of not only fellow Muslim states but also fellow-members of the Third World. At the same time, the Muslim countries will continue to exert themselves, to the utmost, towards the achievement of the objectives of the Group of 77. Their voice will also be clearly heard in the North–South dialogue, urging affluent nations to raise their official development assistance the Third World at least to the agreed-level of 0.7 per cent of their GNP. Can magnanimity be at such a low premium?
While so little is being contributed towards the elimination of the problems of poverty and backwardness, on which the future stability of the world depends, the commitment of vast resources to the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction continues to increase. A further tragedy is that large-scale transfers of arms and lethal weapons are taking place to countries which are already expending so much of their precious re sources on armaments, at the expense of the welfare of their masses. World security is as much threatened by the reckless diversion of resources towards the arms race as by the neglect of the fundamental needs of the under–privileged peoples of the world. Indeed, the two are inextricably linked. Consequently, the question of disarmament is vitally relevant not only to the reduction of international tensions, but also to the better utilization of resources for human development and progress. The goal of disarmament deserves the urgent attention of the world community, and needs to be pursued both at the global, and the regional levels.
The United Nations remains the embodiment of our hopes and aspirations for a world order based on peace and justice. It is committed to the achievement of this objective by virtue of the ideals enshrined in its Charter. This Organization has been a force for international peace and progress during its 35 years of existence. We do not feel discouraged by its occasional inability to translate its promises into tangible results. We are conscious of the circumstances which have prevented it from enforcing its decisions in respect of the right of the people of Palestine to establish a sovereign state of their own in their homeland, or redeeming its promise to the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to enable them to decide their future in accordance with its relevant resolutions.
Since the reference to the State of Jammu and Kashmir touches upon Pakistan‘s relationship with india, I would like to say that, in conformity with our established policy, we have continued our efforts for further normaliza tion of relations with India on the basis of the principles of the Simla Agreement of 1972. Substantial progress has been made over the years in the promotion of communications, travel and trade between the two countries. This process, however, can and will be further accelerated with a peaceful settlement of the question of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan‘s position on this matter is founded on universally–recognized principles.
The Islamic World holds the UNO in great esteem and will strive to further its fundamental objectives. The message of Islam-the message of peace, equality of man, rule of law and supremacy of justice–is also fundamental to the United Nations. As devotees of the religion that brought this message to the world, and as signatories to the Charter in which it is enshrined, the Muslim countries are thus doubly committed to the ideals of the United Nations.
The Prophet of Islam said:
“Even he who makes progress daily is still far–off from the ideal“.
We do not, therefore, despair if the ideals of the United Nations are still nowhere near achievement; if aggression and adventurism still disfigure the international scene; if the security and sovereignty of the weak are still being threatened by the strong; if might is still paraded as right. But we live in hope, and would continue to strive to come closer to the ideal, with the passing of every day.
It is with this belief and determination that the Islamic World is poised to enter the 15th century Hijra–inspired by its great past; aware of its
present problems and opportunities; conscious of its spiritual, cultural, and political rebirth, and its growing strength; and confident of its future. Its chief source of strength, today, is its urge for unity of thought and action. Its member states-over 40 in number—are generally in agree ment on the need for a united and collective response to issues affecting them, and the world at large. This has led to the emergence of the con cept of strengthening their security by pooling their natural resources, their abundant manpower, and their available skills. The close collabora tion so achieved, will undoubtedly promote self-reliance, and reduce dependence on the uncertain and often uncomfortable external factors. This concept of security of the Islamic countries does not involve align ment with any of the power groups; nor does it envisage multilateral defence pacts. It aims essentially at advancing the individual and collective capability of the Islamic countries to achieve the goals, set by consensus, in the larger interest of the Muslim Ummah.
In the world today, there is enough reason for mankind to see the future darkly, and to lose its bearing in the pervading atmosphere of gloom. People feel embattled and forlorn, and see perils and pitfalls all around them. There is social injustice within communities, and economic inequality among nations. All this, I venture to suggest, is a result of unbridled materialism, the eclipse of spiritual values, and a loss of faith.
Our redemption lies in a renewal of Faith; a revival of the belief in the Creator and His creation. I speak only as a Muslim, acutely conscious that arrogance of belief is forbidden to the Muslims; for Islam reproaches its followers for any conceit about their Faith. So, in all humility, I state that we perceive the role of Islam as that of helping to overcome the problems besetting the present-day world. It can assist in building an enduring structure for international amity, based on universal brother hood, and on respect for the principles of peaceful coexistence. Islam is not a religion in the conventional sense but a many splendoured mansion it is a unique and comprehensive system of law; it is a distinctive culture; a fascinating civilization; it is a supreme metaphysical doctrine for the relief and redemption of man. Fourteen hundred years of its record of service is there for all of us to see.
The credentials of the Muslims to be able to play a role in helping to promote peace and harmony among nations are provided in the state ment of Human Rights and Duties by the Prophet in his last sermon on Mount Arafat, which is as fresh and relevant today as it was fourteen hundred years ago. On this occasion, the Prophet said:
“Hearken to my words, O men.... The Arab is not superior to non–Arab; the non–Arab is not superior to Arab. You are all sons of Adam, and Adam was made up of dust.... The vengeance of blood practised in the days of ignorance is pro hibited, and blood–fueds are abolished. Verily, you should consider each other’s blood, property, and reputation, inviolable unto the Day of Judgement. Remember Allah (in your dealings with) women. You have rights over them-they have rights over you.... Verily, a man is responsible only for his own acts. A son is not responsible for the crimes of his father, nor a father reponsible for the crimes of his sons. He who has a pledge, let him return it to him who entrusted him with it; all usury is abolished, but you have your capital; wrong not, and you shall not be wronged.
–You are one brotherhood. Nothing which belongs to another is lawful unto his brother, unless freely given out of goodwill. Guard yourselves from committing injustice.
-You will surely meet your Lord, and He will ask you about your deeds.**
If this be the message, then should not the present resurgence of Islam and the reawakening among the Muslims of the world be a welcome phenomenon? It should be welcomed as a revitalising force that could bring peace to weary world, and hope to a distraught humanity. It is not a religion that forces itself on others. The Holy Quran explicitly reminds us:
“There is no compulsion in religion“. (2:257)
Thus, without obtruding—and in its own imperceptible ways-Islam can act as a catalyst in rousing the conscience of the interational com munity. Religion of Islam is primarily concerned with the guidance it furnishes to its votaries how best to live this life. The prayer of the believer is:
“Our Lord enable us to live this life in a handsome way and also grant us a handsome life in the Hereafter....” Amen
This life is a preparation for the life to come; it has to be lived fully, earnestly and resolutely. It has to be lived for God, spent in His holy name, in obedience to His law.
The World of Islam is confident that the era of stark materialism, which bred imperialism, colonialism and injustice in all its forms, is finally
over, and cannot be brought back. As they enter the 15th century Hijra, the Islamic peoples, who have rediscovered their pride in their religion, their great culture and their unique social and economic Institutions, are confident that the advent of this century would mark the beginning of a new epoch, when their high ideals of peace, justice, equality of man, and their unique understanding of the universe, would once again enable them to make a worthy contribution to the betterment of mankind.
Before concluding, I should like to express a fervent hope and prayer on behalf of the Muslims of the world, that the 154 nations, gathered here, make a solemn commitment:
(a) that the 15th century Hijra, and the 21st century A.D. will usher in an era in which relations between states will be governed by higher moral principles, and not by power politics;
(b) that we shall create a human society founded on the principle of universal brotherhood;
(c) that all forms of intolerance and discrimination, based on considerations of race, colour, creed or sex, shall be ended;
(d) that the remaining strongholds of oppression and injustice on earth shall be demolished;
(e) that the strong nations shall not oppress the weak, nor the rich dominate the poor;
O that scientific knowledge and natural resources of the earth shall be shared equitably for the common welfare and good of the human race, instead of being squandered on armaments and other preparations for war;
(g) that the environment of our planet shall be protected from abuse, to safeguard for posterity its right to inherit the earth as beautiful and supportive of life as the Creator made it for us:
(h) that, above all, peace shall prevail among nations, and brother hood among men, to enable humanity to preserve our precious civiliza tion to which each generation has made its contribution, and to achieve the quality of life based on political, economic and social justice, to which we all aspire, but which has so far exceeded our grasp.
I, once again, thank you Mr President, for the privilege of addressing this august Assembly.
And peace be on you and Allah‘s Mercy and His Blessings.