Few days ago, by the grace of Allah Almighty and through the wonderful efforts of federal and all the provincial governments, Muharram this year around, was largely very peaceful, due to great efforts on the part of politicians, police service and government officers. However, unfortunately, at Rawalpindi, there was a very sad and unfortunate incident, and, look at the irony of fate, that a brother killed a brother, while both fighting factions believe in one Allah, one Prophet (PBUH), and one book Quran-e-Kareem. And all this has been done, unfortunately, in the name of Islam. I am not trying to hush up or cover up weaknesses at the level of administration and police, who are going to be brought to book and facts would be known through a very independent investigation by a judge of High Court and, of course, also through a different task of administrative committee, which are going to look into this matter.

It does give us a moment of introspection that where are we headed and this very tolerant society, which was born in 1947 through great sacrifices of our elders, under the most able leadership of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, to carve out a country from sub-continent, which probably is a story unparalleled, through its sacrifices, through unity, through leadership qualities and through hard efforts. Millions of people migrated from India to Pakistan, leaving everything behind. But Look at what 10th of Muharram in Rawalpindi conveyed a message to all and sundry, not to Pakistanis but to people throughout the globe, that it is a very intolerant society. It cannot even tolerate its own people belonging to different schools of thought.

This has more to do with our historical background of 1980’s and, I shall deal with the subject a little later. Coming back to the point, this is something which the whole nation has vociferously condemned. This has left an ugly mark and a scar on our face and ,InSha’ Allah, we shall ensure that justice is done without any favor and without any delay.

This war which is not our war, but has become our war today, is a great threat to our society. Forty thousand Pakistanis have laid their lives in this war. Our Jawans, our officers, not only officers and Jawans, but also their kith and kin have sacrificed their lives in this war. Remember, what happened in that mosque in Rawalpindi: But do we have enough trained police officers around the country? Do we have enough gadgetry? And do our agencies have enough capacity? Do they need capacity building? All this is very important in terms of fighting and beating this menace. And let me tell you, without mincing words, that without beating this menace and defeating it hands down, Pakistan cannot go any further in terms of economic progress, in terms of developing a composite social structure and a society which is vibrant and robust. But, at the end of the day, we have to stand on our own feet, with our heads held high, with dignity and honor.

I would like to now take up the issue of smooth transition from one government to another; which is a landmark achievement in itself. And most of you would question, why is the Chief Minister, saying this, because it is just a routine in democratic dispensation. Yes, it is a routine in Great Britain. It is a routine in Europe and North America, even in neighboring India. But this has been an exception in this country, whether we like it or not. And, therefore, this is achievement by itself that people have come under democratic umbrella. And now we have to bring this progress and achievement under economic umbrella. That is probably the entire meaning of this exercise, as democracy is all about good governance. 

It’s about providing people an access to quality of governance, especially in rural areas, and, of course, under a discipline, whether these resources are being spent most profitably or there is an element of an extravagant style of governance or the priority of our expenditure. People have the right to know, what efforts are being made to eradicate and control corruption, and how to deal with the problem of providing potable water to far-flung areas of Pakistan, including Punjab. Will this continue forever that the elite of the society will have bottled water, while millions of ordinary people are living without proper water and. Of course, basic needs of life like food items which should be within the permissible limits of all the people. Similarly, education, employment and a very dynamic economic policy would help Pakistan, InSha’ Allah, to gain its lost place in the comity of nations.

We are conspicuously located at a suitable geographical location in South Asia, where to our north is China, to our west is Afghanistan and Iran, to our east is our neighbor India, which is going to be there forever, whether we like it or not. This area has a total population of about three billion people and abundance of natural resources.

Now, it’s up to us as how best to harness these resources for the collective good of our peoples. I think, this is a question which needs to be discussed here. This question is very important for us to understand, to comprehend and to debate. Do we have a security-led vision towards India or economic-led vision towards India? Do we first need to resolve the burning issues like Kashmir, water issues or we should open up trade and commerce, alleviating our problems on both sides of the border, or we should really fight out and test our muscles once again to settle these issues for all time to come? Is war an answer? Or is it even an option? I think, these are some very tough, very straight and serious questions which are needed to be pondered over.

We have to chisel out these issues and questions in order to find amenable answer-answers which our posterity will be proud of. Our elders were very wise, they debated, they discussed and came out with those solutions, which were enviable and which will probably make them feel happy and make them feel proud in times to come.

The question I have raised earlier on, I am now going to take up some thorny issues out of that question, and kindly don’t mind my articulation, because I am speaking, as Pakistani and you are all very honorable Pakistanis. Look at this Muharram, Pakistan army were spread to the length of Pakistan doing a great job and I must say, with the sense of pride, that here in Rawalpindi where the police had almost given up and Army Jawans and officers took up and saved a very ugly situation.

I deeply appreciate Pakistan Army’s wonderful contributions, not only in this Muharram, but throughout our history, whether these are floods, whether these are earthquakes or a particular situation, they came and rescued the situation along with our police, along with our officers, so it’s a collective effort. Here again, I am trying to raise this issue for open discussion and collective wisdom should prevail upon our individual and personal views, because unless we have collective and thorough discussion, or unless we allow collective wisdom to prevail upon, we cannot reach out to some consensus.

We shall not be able to come to a rational conclusion to solve our problems, whether these are security issues, socio-economic issues or other related items of our discussion. So what I was saying earlier was that the first Afghan war was fought in 1980s- so called war against terrorism. We were asked to raise volunteers from our seminaries, they were trained by MI6, CIA provided weapons, some countries gave huge funds and we were made a frontline state to fight this war against terrorism. But, once the Russians left Afghanistan, we were left on our own. It was our judgment, a clarion call to all of us individually, and, I think, the history will also judge on this. The promoters of this proxy war, drew us in and then left us high and dry. They didn’t even ask that how are you, are you OK, whether things are OK, and Jehadis of those days, have been declared as the terrorists of today. So, it was all marriage of convenience then; and marriage of convenience today. There is no conviction; it is the question of their personal interest which they are trying to promote through the blood of innocent people of Pakistan.

As a result of that, look at this yawning gap. Those Jehadis, with whom they used to have black coffee; encouraged and inspired them, that you are great fighters and this and that. But today, they have been branded as terrorists and, in between, their weapons turned towards Kashmir, or elsewhere or probably turned towards citizens within the country. The ‘Kalashnikov Culture’ eked out from drugs, which was the most profitable business in the country.

Today, there is a life threat to our country’s survival and we have sacrificed 40,000 people and, God knows, how many more will have this brush of death in this process, and when will this monster be defeated. It did not come overnight; it will not go away overnight. It will have its toll, let us be very realistic and, in that, we have to collect our energies.

We have to put our resources together. We have to train counter terrorism forces, all over the provinces of Pakistan, as we are doing here in Punjab. I am not going to deal with these facts, which have been thrown up on screen by Chairman P&D; I shall not waste time by repeating which has been mentioned there. I shall just stay at the mega picture, in that we have to educate our people, we have to look after health facilities, let us be very clear, that this war will not be defeated alone, through the bullet of the gun, which has its impact. It is all about socio-economic activities all over the country, all the provinces, by the federal government by weaning away these forces which have led astray the young people. Young boys, who don’t give even a second thought, to explode themselves in front of innocent people, bazaars, bridges, and hitting the institutions, offices and lots of other things, because they have been given a lesson by these recruiting forces, that if you will go and kill that person, you will be given first class ticket to meet your God Almighty, and you will be in Janna’t.

Now imagine, can this kind of orientation and this kind of encouragement be achieved through money alone? Out of question; it is all that they have done in this process, and they have played with their emotions, through particular articulations of Quran-e-Karim, trying to distort them and they have made a force which has created havoc in our society, day in and day out. So, ladies and gentlemen, this is what has been achieved by us through the war, and it has poisoned our society and that’s why in our society, there is intolerance and that’s why there is lack of harmony and, that is why, there is lack of peace and tranquility in the society. Of course, it has another dimension like non-transparent governance over a period of last two decades, including military regimes and civilian regimes.

As you know, matching up and living upto the expectations of the people of Pakistan is not an easy task, while confronting galloping corruption and stashing resources, outside, in safe havens and nepotism, and what not? This altogether created this monster, so let us not see half side of the picture. We have to look at the entire picture, that unless other elements are also addressed and these challenges are met in all earnest; through good governance, through transparency, through every penny of national exchequer, being spent as an “Amanat”, and spending on the wellbeing of the people and implementing it in letter and in spirit, austerity and generating our own resources, this challenge will not be met.

Apart from the biggest challenges being faced today and, I can tell you with fullest assurance that even before the new government had taken oath, there had been an extensive exercise by the PML(N) leadership as how to effectively deal with terrorism. It’s a monster that we have to deal with a strong infrastructure of law & order. We have already done a lot of home work, and are continuously trying our best; but, again, the challenges are huge and these challenges must be understood. Due to lack of action on various parts of the government in the past, the energy issue has become a number one challenge of today. We were not able to build Bhasha Dam in time. Nothing has happened on the ground, neither financial nor implementation plans could be implemented. I just give you two examples, which are heart- breaking and which would give you a very clear picture of this entire energy sector.

Nandipur power project is a Thermal power project of 425MW. Government of Pakistan had paid foreign money to contractors; in this case it was Dongfang Electric Company from China. For two and a half years, the plant machinery was kept rusting at Karachi Port, while Chinese teams were idling at Nandipur. Pakistan suffered due to energy shortage for its industry, while billions of rupees were increased as port charges, demurrage charges at the port and some of the machinery even got stolen.

But with the grace of Allah Almighty, the entire machinery has now been transported to Nandipur, and Chinese team has come back after great efforts. Machinery is being installed, but Pakistan has to dish out another 30 billion rupees to restart this project, which could have been completed and made functional at a cost of 27 billion rupees alone. Put your hand on your heart, can this country afford this kind of negligence? We are a country seeking handouts, with bowls in hands, seeking aid, going to metropolises where aid is not available, seeking loans and yet we are not able to find out a financial plan. How to fill this yawning gap of six thousand megawatts, depending on which part of the year we are talking about.

Such was the criminal negligence on the part of those seeking cuts, kickbacks and indulging in malpractices. Otherwise, is there any explanation to convince anybody? What was the reason for Nandipur not getting functional two and a half years ago? If we could transport this machinery in the last few months, what stopped them from doing this, except greed, graft and corruption and damaging Pakistan’s image irreparably, in the eyes of foreign investors? Now I think we have to put in place coal base power projects. I think we have to move forward now. We have to pick up all these pieces. Coal is much cheaper than imported oil today, as we are spending ten billion dollars on import of oil in Pakistan. An annual expenditure of ten billion dollars on oil or other kind of high speed oil must be replaced by our indigenous resources, sooner than later. All these options are being explored by the government of Pakistan. These coal based projects will take at least three years, from today, I mean feasibility, infrastructure, coal plants be imported, along with conveyer belts. There is natural gas but it is fast depleting.

So the answer is relying on imported or natural gas, liquid natural gas again is a very painful story, like Nandipur. We would have brought LNG in Pakistan at least two years ago, but it is again such a heart-breaking story of corruption, that LNG could not reach Pakistan because of some favorites. I believe that federal government is doing its best and tenders are being opened and will take anything from seven months to fourteen months to bring LNG. The earliest would be six to seven months and the upper limit is fourteen, or may be fifteen months and without that, the gap will not be filled because we do not have additional gas in the country.

We have now been able to ascertain ten million ton of agri-residual in shape of sugarcane bagasse, rice-husk, wheat stalk, cotton stick, maize sticks and vegetables. This is available, on which you can build a plant of five megawatt, ten megawatt in the four nooks and corner of Pakistan. We just have to look towards China and Germany. Germany is generating 3500MW out of its annual waste, while we are just wasting it here in Pakistan which is 6th or 7th largest livestock raising country in the whole world. Germany has produced 3500MW through its technology and planning. Now as I speak, German experts are here in Lahore and I am meeting them tonight and we are going to start power plants with that technology. Then, there are solar power plants. In the deserts of Sindh and in Cholistan, we have maximum sun to produce electricity.

Pakistan’s solar potential is equivalent to gas in Iran or in Qatar and there is no effort to even generate one unit of solar energy in Pakistan on commercial basis. Alhamdulillah, as we speak, Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park in Bahawalpur is fast underway. Basic facilities like roads, water and other basic needs are being built on fast-track basis. Agreements have been signed with Chinese companies for 1000 Megawatt solar power generation in Bahawalpur and we are moving with great speed. We also signed agreements with foreign investors for 50 MW solar power plants in Punjab and that too at economically viable rates, which are not known to the world, of thirteen and a half cent per unit.

You know a benchmark has been established. Hopefully, we will be able to convert this into reality, not in years, but in months, by the grace of God. The first 100MW should be on the national grid in the next few months in Punjab, and there is a huge potential in this field. Sindh has great potential in windmill area, called Jhimpir, there is huge potential over there, I know. Thank God, 100MW are now being generated out of this. There is a large scope over there; like Thar Coal in a nutshell, our country has been a country of missed opportunities. Let us now convert it into a land of opportunities.

This is a country of 180 million people. It has produced world known scientists, mathematicians, bankers, politicians, generals, soldiers, judges, farmers and industrialists of world fame. Our achievements are huge. Pakistan is a nuclear state today. Despite difficult circumstances prevailing at that time, we achieved new goals in education, in health and so on and so forth. It is all about the will to do. We were determined that we shall become a nuclear state and God helped us. There are old sayings that God helps those who help themselves and where there is a will, there is a way. This is an age old fact, which has been time tested, and I can assure you that if we keep on making such speeches, and do not translate it into reality, into action, then till the day of judgment nothing will happen in this country.

But if we speak less, speak relevant and with logic, then we can translate our miseries, transform our sorrows into happiness, progress and prosperity. This is possible; it may be difficult but not impossible. Examples are many, not far and few, but many. China is an example. South Korea is another example seeking our guidance and trying to follow our footprints in 1960s.Today look at them, these are mighty countries in every context. Even, India was following your economic model in 1990s. Our economy was stronger than India. Our textile was far ahead of India, but today look where India is and where we are? Just have this comparison, and I shall never be tired of repeating such examples. China is our most reliable friend in the world but our bilateral trade is six billion dollars with it. On the other hand, China has 85 billion dollar trade with India. Chinese still say that our friendship with Pakistan is deeper than the deepest ocean in the world and higher than Himalyas. Difficulties are there, but nothing is invincible with the collective force, that Pakistan has.

 This is the text of CM Shahbaz Sharif’s speech to National Defence University Islamabad.