Ambassador Shamshad Ahmad, Permanent Representative to the UN
"Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism"
United Nations General Assembly
New York, New York
October 2, 2001

Mr. President,

Only a year ago, our leaders assembled in this great city, the capital of the world, to reaffirm their faith in the ideals of the United Nations and to pledge to work together for a better world, a more peaceful and just world. They renewed their commitment to the timeless and universal purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. The new millennium gave us a new hope embedded in the fundamental values of mankind --the values of freedom, equality, justice, solidarity, tolerance and shared responsibility.

Unfortunately, hard realities seem to have intervened in our journey to our envisioned goal. We were struck by a new face of universal evil that we call terrorism. This scourge knows no geographic boundaries and haunts all regions, countries and societies. The terrorists did not strike at the World Trade Center -- they struck at the World. It was an attack against humanity. Nationals of more than 80 countries, including from my own, lost their lives in this tragedy.

Our hearts go out to the bereaved families and we pray for the departed souls. We also pray for those who are still missing. We share the grief and indignation of the people of the United States and stand by them in this hour of their supreme national tragedy.

Mr. President,

We have had occasions to pay tributes to this city, its people and administration for being wonderful hosts to the UN and for making it possible for the world community's leaders to assemble here in the cause of peace and security and other great causes of humanity, not only in yearly sessions and meetings but also for historic summits and conferences.

Today we pay tribute to the city and the people of New York and those who manage its stupendous affairs in felicity and adversity, for the valour, forbearance and compassion with which they handled this tragedy. We compliment Governor Pataki and Mayor Giuliani for leading this unprecedented operation. We were privileged to have with us in this Plenary, Mayor Giuliani, and to share with him our thoughts and sentiments over this tragedy.

Mr. President,

At the UN, despite diversity in regions and religions, cultures and values, economic and political disparities that we all represent here, our reaction was spontaneous and swift. We condemned the terrorist attacks in the United States and resolved to work together not only to bring the perpetrators to justice but also to prevent and suppress terrorism. The Security Council and the General Assembly unanimously adopted resolutions on 12 September providing legitimacy to the international coalition against this abominable phenomenon. To underscore the seriousness of our purpose in dealing with the question of terrorism, we took an exceptional step by shifting this debate from its traditional forum, the Sixth Committee, to the Plenary of the General Assembly B the chief deliberative, policy making and representative organ of the UN system.

Mr. President,

My own country, Pakistan, which abhors terrorism and deplores violence of all sorts and scales, did not hesitate to respect and accept the international consensus. We have always condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including state terrorism. We have never condoned acts of terrorism and have been cooperating with international community in combating this universal evil. Today again, we have pledged our full support and unstinted cooperation to the fight against terrorism.

We welcome this important and serious issue being discussed in the Plenary of the General Assembly. The resultant approach shall, of course, be encapsulated in the resolution to be worked out in the Sixth Committee. Meanwhile, the Security Council has also adopted a comprehensive resolution last Friday giving the fight against terrorism a new momentum. It obliges all member states to deny financing, support and safe haven to terrorists. We hope that this coupled with the existing international conventions relating to terrorism would provide an effective normative framework to the world community to deal with this global menace.

We in Pakistan will continue to abide by our obligations under the Charter of the United Nations. President Musharraf has clearly pronounced our policy on this matter and has taken our people into confidence in support of our decision to be part of international coalition against terrorism. It is a difficult path but we are determined to support what is right and what is just.

Mr. President,

As we seek to grapple with the worst ever challenge to humanity, our approach should not be cosmetic nor guided by emotion or anger. Surely the perpetrators of terrorism, whosoever they are and wherever they may be, must be brought to justice. But our battle must not remain confined to retaliation and retribution alone. We must tackle the causes that give rise to forces of hatred and violence. Individual acts of madness or behavioral insanity of groups that snuff innocent lives are both crime and disease. Crimes must be punished; disease treated at its roots.

International conventions and resolutions are indeed necessary. We must implement them. Freezing of assets, closing of bank accounts, denying safe haven and information sharing are important steps in controlling terrorist acts. For a long-term solution, we must unearth the source of the problem and diagnose the disease beneath the skin. Sheer bandages will not heal the wounds that are rooted in the injustices of systems and societies.

No matter what actions we might contemplate against terrorism, this faceless enemy, which lurks on the shadows of fear and frustration, breeds on hatred and disillusionment and fed by ignorance and poverty will not disappear unless we build global harmony and stability through mutual tolerance and shared prosperity. It will continue to haunt us if the roots of terrorism which lie in the inequality of societies, in the exploitation of downtrodden, in the denial of fundamental rights and in the sense of injustice are not addressed. It would be too simplistic to merely focus on the symptoms or their ugly manifestations. Terrorism has now emerged as a different challenge which has to be dealt with in a resolute and measured manner.

Mr. President,

Terrorism is the negation of human dignity. Human dignity can neither be achieved nor guaranteed in an environment of abject poverty and denial of inalienable rights. Most countries, if not all, represented here today have at one point in history or another chosen their own destinies based on the principle of self-determination of peoples. Yet, in contravention of this universal principle, there are peoples even today who remain deprived of their fundamental right of self-determination. The Security Council resolutions pertaining to their destiny and future remain unimplemented in the archives of this Organization. It is time for courageous decisions, for correcting historic wrongs and for redressing endemic injustices. Our universal obligation to fight terrorism in all its forms must not deflect us from the need for a just, lasting and honorable settlement of the Palestine and Kashmir disputes, which will bring durable peace and stability to the world at large.

Mr. President,

In the face of the current crisis, we fear an impending humanitarian tragedy. Millions of Afghans are leaving their homes in the fear of war. Pakistan, which has been home to world's largest refugee population for more than two decades, is now faced with the massive new influx of nearly 1.5 million Afghan refugees. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called for a donor alert. UNHCR has issued warnings about the magnitude of the emerging humanitarian crisis. How the international community responds to this crisis will be a real test not only of its ability but also of its moral responsibility.

To make our world better, we also need economic well being in all parts of the world. At the Millennium Summit last year, our leaders resolved "to wage a war on poverty, to make the right to development a reality for everyone and to free the entire human race from want". We need concrete steps to achieve this goal. The ongoing Financing for Development process gives us an opportunity to address this issue in a holistic manner with the participation of all major stake-holders including the Bretton Woods institutions and private sector. We must initiate, through this process, a collective effort towards new patterns of cooperation in terms of trade, partnership and interdependence.

I would like to conclude by quoting from the preamble of President Woodrow Wilson's famous Fourteen Points: "It is that the world be made fit and safe to live in; and particularly that it be made safe for every peace-loving nation which, like our own, wishes to live its own life, determine its own institutions, be assured of justice and fair dealing by the other peoples of the world as against force and selfish aggression. All the peoples of the world are in effect partners in this interest, and for our own part we see very clearly that unless justice be done to others it will not be done to us".

I thank you, Mr. President.