Pakistan in war with 'forces of darkness': Zardari
11 December, 2012
PARIS: President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday said Pakistan was fighting with the forces of darkness, hatred and violence.
Addressing a conference organised jointly by Pakistan and UNESCO on the theme "Stand up for Malala, Girls Education is a Right", President Zardari assured the international community that Pakistan was committed to providing equal rights for education to boys and girls and urged the world community to extend full support and cooperation for promoting education. He said Pakistan had taken a giant leap forward in the quest for education and knowledge and ensured that all girls and boys are given equal right to education.
The president said as the government was completing its term therefore its confidence had increased in the fact that democracy was the only vehicle which delivered peace and prosperity to the people and to the region. He said all political parties and provinces had come together to make fundamental changes in the constitution regarding education for all children and it had been declared a fundamental right for everyone and state's responsibility. The president said this change in the constitution would have transformational effect in defeating the forces of extremist mindset that are against the education for girls.
President Zardari told the international community that the present government was committed to addressing the issue of education for all. He said the government had the vision of making the country democratic, progressive, peaceful and educated. While referring to the attack on Malala Yousufzai, the president said she stood for the right to education, not only for herself but for a bright and progressive future of her country.
Zardari, who visited Birmingham before coming to Paris, where he met with Malala, said it was deeply moving for him to meet this young ray of hope at the hospital two days ago. He said he was happy to share with the participants of the conference that Malala was making satisfactory progress. He said her recovery is a symbol of resilience of his great nation and it is also a symbol of the battle between two mindsets, one that Malala represents – a bright, progressive future for Pakistan – which is the agenda of democratic political forces of Pakistan.
The second mindset, he said, was a fringe minority of darkness, violence, hatred and conflict. "Malala's survival teaches us that extremism can only be fought through our collective commitment," the president said. Zardari announced Pakistan's donation of ten million dollars for Malala Fund.
He said he had no doubt that the resolve to provide education to all, in particular the millions of out-of-school girls, was the best strategy to defeat the forces of violence. The president said extremists were not only seeking to hamper progress but they were also abusing the name of Islam, a religion of peace, which puts education and learning before every thing else.
He said even the first word of the Holy Quran is 'Iqra', which means read. He said long-term democratic political commitments are key to reforms in education, but over the past three decades, unfortunately the democratic process has repeatedly been derailed. President Zardari said under the dictators, priorities shifted away from social and human development, but the present government recently launched a major national initiative for the promotion of education in the form of Waseela-e-Taleem programme.
It is a part of the Benazir Income Support Programme, which was also working for poverty alleviation and women empowerment, he said. This programme would ensure that three million additional girls were sent to schools, he added.
"I am convinced that we can achieve this through putting our combined strength to meet the challenge." The president said Pakistan needed support of government, donors, politicians and educationists and from the private and public sectors. He said such an alliance for education would ensure that every "Malala" received quality education and contributed towards a progressive Pakistan.
The president appreciated the efforts of UNESCO for its call for education for all and joining Pakistan for holding this important conference on education.