President Zulfiqar Ali Butto debunked the twelve points of the Opposition and asked them not to resort to obstructionism.
Speaking at a civic reception held on Gymkhana grounds, he gave a point by point rejoinder to the Opposition parties and urged them to be consistent in the interest of peace and harmony in the country.
The President said that his party was not afraid of elections which would be held at the proper time.
Those advocating elections should know that his party would emerge stronger and then they should be prepared for further drastic reforms, including complete nationalization, when textile and sugar mills would also not be spared.
Replying to the first point of “brotherhood”, he said if they wanted brotherhood they should also live like brothers. If on the one hand they preached hatred and violence and on the other wanted brotherhood, it became incompatible.
He said that first the polluted the atmosphere of cordiality and then started crying hoarse for amity and brotherhood. “We have always been prepared to meet you as brothers and will always respect you,” he added.
The President said that he had always met them whenever they had requested and was prepared to do so in future also to ensure peace and harmony.
Coming to the next point, “exploitation of poor”, he lashed out at these parties and blamed them for being the real “exploiters” who had sucked the blood out of the poor, down-trodden masses of Pakistan.
He said they had exploited the nation so ruthlessly that no precedent would be available. He referred to palace intrigues and drawing room politics and said why no one ever raised the cry against exploitation of the people then.
The President said it was the People’s Party that brought the politics of drawing-rooms into the streets and spoke for the rights of the poor. “But when we raised voice for them, we were dubbed as ‘Kafirs’ and “fatwas’ were proclaimed against us,” he added.
He described these parties as agents of capitalists, servants of industrialists and moneyed men and said that only recently in the NWFP the previous Government invited big industrialists to suck the blood of the people of the frontier.
Referring to the point about fascism, he said is party was strictly against this evil but if democracy and socialism were considered fascism by the Opposition, he could not help it.
He said the Opposition parties had decided not to rest until fascism was eliminated from the country, and added amidst cheers that they do not needed a rest. They don’t deserve it. “No one will let you rest.”
He said the provincial autonomy was the basic reason for which his party had struggled against the One Unit of West Pakistan. The issue, he said, had been decided democratically at the Constitutional conference and each and every subject had been discussed threadbare. All the three lists came under discussion and the decision was hailed by all the parties. This issue thus had also been settled, he said.
About the Press freedom, he said the Government wanted it honestly but the Press should also remain within the limits of law and respect it.
He referred to some reports about the seizure of gold, devaluation of rupee and demonetisations of currency notes and said such lies were against the interests of the entire country and its economy.
He said that if the Press did not indulge in creating undue harassment among the people by publishing tendentious news, his Government had no reason to take action against it.
The President said that he stood fro complete Press freedom and added the newspapers were free to write anything they liked, but within the boundaries of law.
Coming to the point about the release of Pakistan POWs, he said the Government was doing everything possible in this regard, but he expressed surprise how these people (Opposition) could secure their release.
He said jokingly: “Even if they were Indian agents, their masters would not accept their plea and allow the POWs’ release themselves blocked their repatriation by raising “Na Manzoor” slogans.
He said that India had repeatedly stated that unless we took a correct decision and recognized the reality, the POWs would not com back. The key to their jail was our decision regarding, BD recognition and these people (Opposition) wanted to break that key.
He said if the National Assembly gave him the required permission, the POWs would certainly come back.
He said their opposition to BD recognition was not unexpected because they had also opposed the creation of Pakistan by raising “No Pakistan” slogans. They always went against the interest of Pakistan, he added.
He said the real test at the moment was whether democracy could succeed in this country and whatever the system, if people wanted democracy to succeed, they could get it in ay form.
The President also repeated that the suggestion of two-thirds majority came from the Opposition and added his party had suggested the alternative of re-election for the member who wanted to vote against his party, but had accepted the former on the insistence by the Opposition.
He said that in the Bangladesh Constitution more strict clauses had been included against a member voting against his party.
Stressing that democracy did not mean jungle law in the country, he said it could only be allowed to function within the limits of laws and discipline.
Even in foreign countries if anyone spoke against the state and resorted to violence, he was penalized for it, and that was strictly in accordance with democratic principles. Democracy should not mean destruction for the country.
He stressed that tolerance was the mainstay of functioning and if they wanted that even after losing elections they should be inducted into power, it was no democracy.
The President also discussed in detail the events before the East Pakistan breakup and the army action in that Wing. “The political stand taken by us there was in line with the national integrity and solidarity,” he maintained.
He asked the Opposition why they had absolutely abandoned the theme of majority party now which they used to beat about so frequently for Mr. Mujib’s party.
He rejected the Opposition demand for lifting of the emergency in the country and stressed that the need for keeping it was never so pressing as in the present conditions.
He said if in India, which claimed to have won great victories in the last war and which was keeping 90,000 POWs and had a Constitution as well as democracy for 25 years, the need for lifting the emergency was not felt, how could it be in Pakistan which had suffered much.
He said that in the presence of grave internal and external conspiracies against Pakistan, the slogans of four nationalities, the smuggling of arms into the country, the guerilla training imparted to people for disruption and the losses suffered during the war : no patriotic person could demand lifting of the emergency.
He said that no poor man, Mazdoor or Kissan had been sent behind the bars under the Defence of Pakistan Rules but only those who violated the law and preached violence were penalized.
He referred to the speech of Mian Tufail in Mochi Gate and said those who invited the army to take over the country were made the official guests.
He declared that the army was a professional one and would do its duty of defending the country’s border.
He said the country was gripped by flames from all sides and the enemies were at work both within and outside. In these circumstances only those who did not have the good of the country at heart could make such a demand.
He said the flag of Pakistan would never be allowed to go down. It would fly high with the blessings of God and people, he added.
He described the slogan of four nationalities as a medium to oppose the integrity of Pakistan.
He said such slogans were being raised in the country only to harm its peace and create hurdles in its march towards progress and prosperity.
He asked why only Pakistan was chosen to be the homeland of four nationalities. “Why do they not speak about India where numerous such nations were living?
He said the examples of Russia and China advanced by the protagonists of this theory were, in fact, absurd and totally wrong. These countries could not be compared with Pakistan because they had absolutely different history, separate ideological perspective and totally different constitutions.
He said Pakistan had various cultures in its regions and they were duly respected by this Government. “We will safeguard these cultures and want them to spread to every nook and corner of the country. We want every Pakistani to speak Urdu, Pashto, Punjabi, Sindhi and Baluchi.” he said.
But the slogans raised to emphasis the existence of four nationalities were only to mislead the people and disturb their peace, harmony and unity.
He said justice would be done to the people of Hashtanagar, Charsadda Tehsil, which was the centre of peasant-landlord problems.
He said that he had directed the Governor of the NWFP to see that justice was done to the people there.
He said that he was keen to hold public meetings at different places in the NWFP, and added, public meetings were essential because they provided opportunity for renewing the contact with the masses.
He said that he would also hold a public meeting at Chowk Yadgar. In fact, he was anxious to do so.