Indonesian President calls for firm commitment to democracy

–Says conflicts, wars to benefit none; democracy best way to serve peoples’ interests


F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Indonesian President Joko Widodo has called for a firm commitment to democracy as it is the only way to serve interests of the people.

He was addressing the joint session of the Parliament in Islamabad soon after his arrival on Friday.

The Indonesian President said democracy provides space for people in decision-making process, helps maintain political stability and achieve growth. Joko Widodo said economy of a country or a region can grow if there is political stability and security. He said economic activities will never take place if there is conflict or war. He said conflicts and wars benefit no one and people mainly women and children become most impacted in such situations.

Joko Widodo has said the conflicts and wars would benefit no one as people become its major victims and called for unity to maintain peace and stability in the region. “Conflicts and wars will benefit no one. I repeat, conflicts and wars will benefit no one. The people, mainly women and children always become the most impacted ones in conflicts and wars,” President Widodo said.

President Widodo is on his first visit to Pakistan along with a delegation comprising ministers and the businessmen.

The session was chaired by National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and attended by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani, three services chiefs, besides the parliamentarians.

President Widodo is the second President of Indonesia to address the joint sitting as First Indonesian President Dr Ahmed Soekarno had addressed the National Assembly of Pakistan on June 26, 1963.

President Widodo is the 17th foreign dignitary to address the National Assembly and Senate’s joint-sitting. The others who addressed the sitting included leaders from Iran, Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Palestine, France, China, Britain, Turkey.

The Indonesian president said besides impacting the people, the conflicts and wars also destroyed the values of humanity.

Widodo, who started his speech with slogan of Pakistan Zindabad (Long Live Pakistan), also strongly advocated for democracy believing that “Democracy is the best way serving our peoples’ interests. Democracy provides the space for the people in decision-making process.”

President Widodo said in 1963, President Soekarno ignited the spirit to fight against colonialism as well as the spirit of cooperation between newly independent countries. “Fifty five years later, the President of the Republic of Indonesia is honored once again to speak before the Parliament of Pakistan. I would like to use this opportunity to ignite cooperation for the world’s peace and prosperity,” he remarked. He said the friendship between Indonesia and Pakistan was not a newly forged friendship as his country would always remember the support of the people of Pakistan towards Indonesia’s struggles for independence.

He told the joint-sitting that as a token of appreciation, on August 17, 1995 coinciding with the 50th Anniversary of the Indonesian Independence, Indonesia had conferred First Class Adipurna Star to Pakistan’s Father of the Nation, Muhammad Ali Jinnah for his contributions in supporting Indonesia’s independence.

Besides having decades old friendship, the two countries had much in common with both being the biggest Muslim populations, members of D-8, OIC, Non-Aligned Movement besides being the initiators of Asia-Africa Conference and “most importantly, we are both democratic countries.” He said both Pakistan and Palestine consistently supported the independence of Palestine. “At this forum, I would like to call once again for us to continue supporting our brothers and sisters in Palestine. Let us continue supporting Palestine in their struggles,” he said.

He said Indonesia was the largest Muslim populated country in the world as around 87% from 260 million people in Indonesia equals to 2,262 million populations were Muslim. He said just like Pakistan, apart from being home to Muslims, Indonesia was also home to Hindu, Catholic, Protestants, Buddhist as well as the others making it a pluralistic country. He said despite being very plural with a large number of population and more than 17,000 islands and with 1,340 ethnicities, Indonesia was able to preserve its unity.

He said Indonesian people lived their lives as a nation in a democratic manner. He said most people understand that managing diversity was not an easy thing, neither managing democracy. “What we need is commitment…commitment to tolerate in order to maintain plurality; commitment for mutual respects so that democracy could function well,” he remarked. He said with democracy political stability in Indonesia could be maintained, economic growth was strong enough reaching above 5% per year and becoming one of the 20 largest in the world.

He said without political stability and security, the growth of national or regional economy was not possible as economic activities would never take place amid conflict or war.