Zia on Islam, US ties, democracy, and Pakistan's future

On Islam: There is one thing which is always created by some of the happenings in and around Iran and Pakistan that has disturbed many good friends in the West. They ask, ''What does Islam mean? Does it mean hanging people? Does it mean revolution? Or does it mean evolving your human values through a process of absolution?''

So I would like to say that Islam is not in confrontation with any of the values of the West. Islam is in total harmony with Western philosophy, with the Christian faith, and with the developed world that exists in the West. Islam is a way of life that looks towards peace. And Islam's message, that came through the messenger of God (Muhammad), peace be upon him, was a message of love, of human dignity, a message of peace throughout the world.

And it is as a result of this peaceful effort that Islam went from one corner to the other corner of the world. I've just come from there, and you see where Mecca was, you see where Surabaja (Indonesia) is, and you see where Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) is, and you see where Fiji is. All these areas were amongst the first , within the first few hundred years of Islam. So, when you read books like ''Militant Islam,'' don't be left with the wrong impression that Islam means militarism, that Islam means ruthless dealing with human beings. It is not so. And, in Pakistan, it is our effort to bring in Islamic values through a process of evolution, by which we will slightly change the orientation of the materialistic man towards more spiritual values: create a bit of love for mankind and help those who are not fortunate enough to have as much as many of us have.

In other words, we are trying to institute the correct distribution of wealth within Pakistan. This is Point No. 1.

Point No. 2: In the United States there are many things which attract people from all walks of life, from all regions of the world, to see this advanced nation moving along the path of further advancement in human behavior, in technology, in science, in military hardware, in exploratory efforts in the environment, reaching the moon, and all the rest of it. But I think a certain segment is now emerging which is appreciative of the inculcation of human values , rather than having a purely materialistic attitude towards the world. And, from that point of view, human relationships can never be weighed solely in terms of materialistic attitudes.

On US-Pakistani relations: The relationship between a large country and a small country is always very difficult. The United States of America is a superpower and a big country. Pakistan, in its own right, is not a very small country. It has 84 million people and it is also so strategically located geographically that it can help a great deal in preserving peace and security in the region, which is in the interests of all countries, including the United States. All that we pray, that we beg of, is a correct understanding and far more effort towards establishing credibility and durability, which I think are two hallmarks of the present administration in Washington. However, I think a little bit more effort is required, and I think the United States of America will (then) emerge as a beacon for the free world.

On democracy: If you look at the democratic institutions in Pakistan from the eyes of the United States, you will see a blurred picture. And therefore democracy's facets in Pakistan should be looked at from Pakistan's point of view. How have we fulfilled (them)? Before I answer, let me also bring to your notice that there could be no system more democratic than (that embodied in) Islamic principles. The world, the modern world of today, realized for the first time human dignity, human rights, and democracy 1,400 years ago when the prophet Muhammad, as a messenger of God, brought Islam. So, what have we done in Pakistan in the last 5 1/2 years of the military regime? We have introduced democracy in accordance with Islamic injunctions at the grass-roots level.

On his future, and Pakistan's: If I'm living 10 years from now, I would like to see a very strong and stable Pakistan, a Pakistan really moving under the fervor of Islamic spirit, and Zia ul-Haq sitting at his home as a retired Army officer playing golf.

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