Here is the complete speech of General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani:
Today’s evening is dedicated to our martyrs, veterans and soldiers who remain steadfast and resolutely committed in the defence of our sacred motherland. Regardless of the cost, our spirits are high and our determination unwavering. The nefarious designs of our enemy, may it be internal or external, will never succeed and we shall eventually prevail. I can say this with complete confidence because I know that the blessings of Almighty Allah and prayers of the entire Nation are with us. This realization is indeed the source of our real strength, which affords us a distinct edge and dominance over the enemy.
We are deeply indebted to the families of our martyrs, who made the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of our freedom. We cannot repay their debt, however, we profoundly acknowledge their courage and valour and pray to the Almighty to honour their great sacrifice and to bless our motherland.
Last year, on this occasion, we were confronted with a great tragedy. We had lost 140 of our gallant companions in an avalanche at Gayari. We had vowed that come what may we would not rest till the very last body of our martyrs is recovered. The search is still on in extremely rugged terrain; 13000 feet above sea level. By the grace of Almighty we have recovered the remains of 125 of our companions and Allah willing we will soon complete the task.
Pakistan is a great blessing for all of us. It is because of our beloved motherland that we live in freedom as an independent Nation. We have made enormous sacrifices for this freedom and we are prepared to continue doing so, to preserve it. However, despite tremendous sacrifices, the dream of our founding fathers under the leadership of Quaid-e-Azam and Alama Iqbal is yet to be realized. Perhaps, we have either not discovered the correct path or have not remained steadfast in our journey. Yet the spirit of sacrifice and resilience of our Nation remains undiminished. I have no doubts, whatsoever, that we retain the ability to touch the heights of glory. Hence, it is imperative that we do not let despair or disillusionment afflict our resolve.
Allah willing, General Elections would be held in the country on 11th of May. We must not harbour any suspicions or misgivings about it. This indeed is a golden opportunity, which can usher in an era of true democratic values in the country. In my opinion, it is not merely retribution, but awareness and participation of the masses that can truly end this game of hide and seek between democracy and dictatorship. If we succeed in rising above all ethnic, linguistic and sectarian biases to vote solely on the basis of honesty, sincerity, merit and competence, there would be no reason to fear dictatorship or to grudge the inadequacies of our present democratic system. Our salvation resides in transforming the government into a true platform of public representation. This would come to pass once the construct of public representation in Pakistan is oriented towards affording primacy and precedence to larger public interest over personal interests. Otherwise, may it be democracy or dictatorship; governance would continue to remain a means of self aggrandizement and that of plundering national wealth and resources.
I assure you, that we stand committed to wholeheartedly assist and support in the conduct of free, fair and peaceful elections; to the best of our capabilities and remaining within the confines of the Constitution. I also assure you that this support shall solely be aimed at strengthening democracy and rule of law in the country. Like every Pakistani, Pakistan Army, in its humble capacity, has endeavoured to strengthen democracy in the last five years, with the hope that the next elections would steer the country towards betterment. Now, once the destination is in sight we must not err in accomplishing our responsibilities towards the election process. We must never forget that success of any system resides in coming up to the aspirations of the masses. The success of democracy is intimately linked with the wellbeing and prosperity of the Nation. The real virtue of democracy ultimately lies in the safety and welfare of the masses.
The conduct of General Elections is not an end per se, but is surely an important means towards delivering us from our present sufferings. To bring an end to our tribulations, it is also imperative to foster a profound understanding of our national ethos and aspirations. The General Elections will provide us the foundation. To build on this foundation, we would have to find answers to many questions; war against terrorism being one of these questions.
The menace of terrorism and extremism has claimed thousands of lives, including those of the Army, Rangers, FC, Police, Frontier Constabulary, Levies and innocent people of Pakistan. If we include the injured and affected family members of the martyrs, the numbers increase manifold. Our external enemies are busy in igniting the flames of this fire. However, despite all this bloodshed, certain quarters still want to remain embroiled in the debate concerning the causes of this war and who imposed it on us. While this may be important in itself but the fact of the matter is that today it is Pakistan and its valiant people who are a target of this war and are suffering tremendously. I would like to ask all those who raise such questions that if a small faction wants to enforce its distorted ideology over the entire Nation by taking up arms and for this purpose defies the Constitution of Pakistan and the democratic process and considers all forms of bloodshed justified, then, does the fight against this enemy of the state constitute someone else’s war? Even in the history of the best evolved democratic states, treason or seditious uprisings against the state have never been tolerated and in such struggles their armed forces have had unflinching support of the masses; questions about the ownership of such wars have never been raised. We cannot afford to confuse our soldiers and weaken their resolve with such misgivings. Every drop of blood, shed in the national cause, is sacred and no one can better understand its value than the families who are present here today; because their dear ones have already made the ultimate sacrifice. We must not hurt the sentiments of these saviours of the Nation through our words and deeds.
We sincerely desire that all those who have strayed and have picked up arms against the Nation, return to the national fold. However, this is only possible once they unconditionally submit to the State, its Constitution and the Rule of Law. There is no room for doubts when it comes to dealing with rebellion against the state. Towards this end, while truly acknowledging the national aspirations and value of our martyr’s blood, we as a Nation need to forge consensus towards evolving a clear policy through mutual consultations. Considering this war against terrorism as the war of the armed forces alone can lead to chaos and disarray that we cannot afford.
In line with the spirit of this occasion, alongside Pakistan Army I would like to express my profound appreciation for FC, Rangers, Police, Frontier Constabulary and Levies, who have sacrificed tremendously in the struggle against terrorism and extremism and have kept the flag of Pakistan fluttering high. However, the biggest sacrifice has been rendered by the people of Pakistan, whose steadfastness and support is a source of immense strength for the Armed Forces of Pakistan. I salute the spirit of patriotism of the entire Nation.
Martyrdom is a great honour and fortunate are those who are blessed with it. We all sincerely pray for the families of the Shuhada. May Allah grant them strength and fortitude! Ameen!
Yaum-e-Shuhada is being observed throughout Pakistan. The purpose of observing this day is that we as a nation renew our resolve to never forget the sacrifices of our Shuhada. Their blood is sacred and a source of pride for Pakistan Army and the Nation. We would never let their sacrifice go waste.
May Allah be our protector and guide! Ameen!
Pakistan Army Zindabaad!