Dear Fellow Citizen,
This is an auspicious occasion for me to be standing here and address you as the President of Pakistan. With deepest humility and sense of gratitude I accept this responsibility that is bestowed upon me. This is truly an honor for me which I could not have imagined. Twenty years have passed since the Peoples Party was in power with the first term ofBenazir Bhutto. Much has changed since. I was thirty three years old man then. I have been to jail and I have been accused of many things. While I will not hesitate to admit my shortcomings in the past but I must say many of the charges were politically motivated as you all well know.
Now I am 53 year old with grown up children instilling in me the wisdom to see the importance of the future. Taking on such a huge responsibility makes me feel very humble. My grown up children, the events in my life for the past few years and the great loss of Benazir Bhutto have compelled me to take a closer look at my life and lives of millions ofPakistanis. This is indeed a transformation for myself. When I say this, I say it from the bottom of my heart, as I want to see Pakistan prosper, I want to see the youth of Pakistan get the education they deserve. I want to see every citizen of Pakistan gets basic necessities of life. The dream and the hope that we gave to the people of Pakistan from our party platform some 35 years ago. Lets revive our promise we had with the people of Pakistan. “Roti Kupra aur Makan”, the slogan that had so much promise for the common man, but unfortunately we wavered from that focus. Let’s bring our party back to its core message and start working on providing every citizen of Pakistan Roti, Kupra aur Makan.
I understand, this may sound like yet another slogan and political gimmick. But, today as I stand here, let me make a commitment to and solidarity with the people of Pakistan. Today I announce and I declare that my first act as an executive will be to disclose my income that I had in 1988 when we came in power, and any income that I have had since 1988 will be put back to treasury of Pakistan to create and Pakistan Educational Fund. From this humble start I want to develop my trust with the people of Pakistan to build a better Pakistan. Lets shed our differences and work together. I request your trust in this endeavor and ask you all to join me with my sons and daughters for the journey to build a better and brighter Pakistan which I call it “Roadmap for the Better Future of Pakistan”.
Here is the 7 point “Roadmap to the Better Future of Pakistan”:
1. Education; The primary Focus.
No nation can prosper without the basic education for the masses. Let’s spend nation’s wealth where it should be spent the most. Let’s change our priority form huge military spending to building educational institutions. Lets us make sure that each and every child of Pakistan get education through 12 grade and beyond. Build the Pakistan Educational Fund that can serve generations. I propose to double the income of our teachers. Build schools for every village in the country and staff with real teachers. There are many graduates from colleges out of jobs. Lets employ them for this. Make every school and appointments accounted for. The public education system is completely broken. Let us fix this now. With the military funding diverted to education let’s build the whole system from the ground up. We must build and catch up with math, science and technology like our neighbor. Let’s build department of genetic engineering and computer sciences in each and every universities of Pakistan.
2. Healthcare: The Essential need.
The health of the nation translate into the wealth of the nation. Let us make our government hospitals the best hospitals in the country. Lets provide hospital, doctors and nurses the things they need to take care of the poor and needy patients. Lets create research and Development Department of our own and make program that are needed for our population. Spend more money on family planning and prevention.
3. Merit Only; The core issue.
We are plagued with the curse of Nepotism and Cronyism. We must end this destructive path. Let’s build departments of the government based on the merit and merit alone. Let’s make appointments of people with due professional qualification to run the various department and ministries of our government. Lets abolish once and for all the token appointments which render our government totally ineffective. From the departments of government, educational institutions to any project make sure we get the best and the brightest to do the job. For some it is the root cause of all the evils in Pakistan where few people rule because of their status or position in the government or military. Lets end this menace and make everyone accountable. Recognize our youth or young workers who may be out of job because they don’t have any pull in the system. Give a graduate in Mardan or Shahdad pur a hope that his or hers education has not gone in vain.
4. Security; The Comprehensive solution
Lets us secure our nation from inside first. With education and accountability let us work together to curb menace of fundamentalism. Let us promote secular education to fight the extremism. Lets us all live in harmony irrespective of religions, religious sect, ethnicity and language. There are no new laws to be enacted, but make the laws enforcement our priority. Make the police stations efficient and accountable. Give them powers to carry out the enforcement of law and order in the villages and cities without the interferences of any. Give them better wages and abolish bribery and kickbacks. Build the sense of public service, community service at every level of the society.
5. Relations with India; The New Start
Enough has been spent on the defense and we must ask, for what return. We have made our military an industry of its own. The inflated budget and military spending has eaten away our whole nation. Let us put back the money we spend in military spending to where it belongs, in the schools! Yes, we need a deterrent strategy, only if we don’t develop trust with our neighbors. Let us build bridges with our neighbors. Cooperation in business, technology and tourism. Lets us extend our open hands to them and bring them on the table for mutual cooperation and understanding. Lets establish relationship in the science and technology and work to build a strong south east region.
6. Infrastructure: The Building of the Nation.
The economic growth requires investment in infrastructure, building roads and transportation for the business can flow and growth occurs. Lets us build roads, bridges and make roads to every village in the country. Bring the people closer, promote road travel and make the highway safe. Build parks and facilities and promote tourism. Bring the revenues of income tax from the wealthiest for the benefit of the poorest.
7. Elections: The Future Needs of Our Nation.
Sixty years is enough to learn the lessons. We must build democratic institutions. Lets restore the Students Union in every college in the country. Let our youth debate on issues that are important. Cultivate their mind and broaden their imagination. Let’s set up the policies and procedures to follow the timeline to elections. Let the people know that the only means by which the government can be changed is though democratic means. Lets abolish the concept of government owed media. Focus our education towards building a democratic tradition in each and every aspect of our lives. Give the common public the education they need to know what their rights are. Give them confidence to speak for their rights. Make every political party and person accountable for what they do. Demand every party to conduct their party based on democratic traditions including PPP. In this spirit of building the institution I declare the next national election to be exactly five years to be held on August 14, 2013. Let every party make their case and win the public approval.
Ladies and Gentlemen, these are not the lofty ideas or rhetoric only. There are no new laws to be enacted, we just have to enforce the laws we already have. This is the time to do it. We are at the juncture of the history that we must seize this opportunity to make things right, and make it right now. So, with this spirit in mind I ask you to forgive my shortcoming of the past, if you can, and join me in this endeavor. I request you to come with me and join hands to make this “Roadmap for the better future of Pakistan” a reality.
Asif Ali Zardari.
BY DR. Rizwan. Karatrela, (M.D)