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'I believe in freedom'
Pervez Musharraf
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March 26, 2007

People conspiring against me are not in favour of Pakistan.

This is not the same declining Pakistan as of yore. We are no more beggars. I will not go into the details of all the projects we have started. You can learn about them from TV and the radio. There had been no mega project in the country in the past. Now we are spending billions of rupees on infrastructure.

Regarding water systems, we are brick-lining small canals at Rs 6,600 crore . There are 86,000 small canals in Pakistan. A sum of Rs 3,000 crore has been spent on their brick-lining. About 45,000 small canals that remain will be completed in two years.

We are constructing water reservoirs. The Bhasha dam has started and we are determined to construct the Kalabagh dam. We are building large canals in every province. The Thal canal is being constructed in Punjab, the Reni canal in Sindh, and the Kachi canal in Balochistan. These are projects worth billions of rupees.

I promise to supply electricity to every village with more than 10 houses.

There had been Rs 7,000-8,000 crore for projects in the past but now just Punjab has a Rs 10,000 crore budget and Pakistan a Rs 41,500 crore one.

Such big funds are possible because Pakistan's economy is strong.

Thousands of factories are being established here. The largest milk collection plant has been installed in Kabirwala. We have launched another project to offer internships to everyone who completes 16 years of education. They will get jobs for Rs 10,000 without any selection or examination. About 30,000 youngsters have been provided such jobs.

The government is spending billions of rupees to reduce unemployment.

Thousands of vocational centres and technical schools will be opened. We have also launched the Rozgar Pakistan Scheme. It is a big project through which people can get loans to run their business. The interest rate has been kept low and can be repaid in easy installments.

I am in favour of the supremacy of the law, the freedom of the media, and the freedom of the judiciary. I have never politicised these institutions and will never do so. Some elements are interfering in this and there is a conspiracy against me. I'll investigate this but if you remain supportive, I can face any challenge. I do not have personal differences with the Chief Justice (now suspended). The government had filed a case of reference against him. It was my duty and responsibility to take action on this. I filed the reference before the Supreme Judicial Council, the supreme institution of the judiciary. Some people are portraying it as though I have created an issue for nothing. Please do not politicise this issue and make it a source of conspiracy against me. Only the Supreme Judicial Council can take the final decision on it.

I'll not interfere and will accept the decision of the SJC.

Another conspiracy is the attack on GEO TV. I do not know who did it and I have told the channel that I was sorry about it. I condemn the incident. Those involved will be punished.

Pakistan is progressing and nobody can stop the progress. People conspiring against me are not in favour of Pakistan. I am the one who gave freedom to the media. No private channel existed six years ago. If anybody holds me guilty, I have enough proof to clear myself of any charges.

This is an election year. For the first time in Pakistan's history, the national and provincial assemblies have completed their tenures. You can choose your ruler and I am confident you will elect people who will understand your problems. If you think I have done something progressive, vote for those who support me. Your progress, betterment and welfare will always be on my mind. Think about Pakistan first and then anything else. If we are united, we can get our country a respectable position in the Muslim Ummah and the world.

Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf was speaking at a function to inaugurate a Rs 400-crore gas supply system in Pakpattan, Southern Punjab on March 17.

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