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Pervez Musharraf (file photo)
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has called for a holy war against extremists and announced steps to curb militant Islamic schools and groups. In a speech yesterday, Musharraf strongly condemned the London bombings, which killed almost 60 people, and said the attackers cannot be called human beings. But Musharraf said Britain, too, must crack down on extremists operating in the country.
Prague, 22 July 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is calling on his countrymen to fight preachers of hate and to support the government in its fight against terrorism.
In a nationally televised speech yesterday, Musharraf said terrorists and extremists are defaming Islam.
"What do [terrorists] gain from such terrorist acts?" Musharraf said. "A bad name. Disgrace. Trouble for Muslims everywhere. This is what they have earned. I just cannot understand their way of thinking."
Musharraf acknowledged that Pakistan has a problem with militants. But switching from Urdu to English, he said Britain, too, needs to deal with its homegrown militants.
"There is a lot to be done by Pakistan, internally here in Pakistan, and may I suggest that there is a lot to be done in England also," Musharraf said. "The correct strategy to deal with this is to encourage and support each other rather than speaking against each other and blaming each other and weakening the overall cause."
Musharraf noted that although three of the four London bombers are reported to have been of Pakistani origin, they had been born, bred, and educated in Britain.
"Three out of the four accused people in this bombing are accused to be Pakistanis," Musharraf said. "The fourth one is from Jamaica. I really don't know if the aspersions on the three Pakistanis is that they got indoctrinated when they came to Pakistan. Where did the Jamaican get his indoctrination?"
Musharraf, who has been the target of at least two assassination attempts, said Britain allows some of the groups suspected of being behind those attacks to operate freely.
"There are extremist organizations in the United Kingdom," Musharraf said. "There is the Hizb-ut Tahrir and al-Muhajiroun, who operate with full impunity in that area. They had the audacity of passing an edict against my life, and yet they operate with impunity."
Musharraf issued a fresh ban against Islamic militants and gave madrasahs, or Islamic schools, a December deadline to register with the government. He also said banned extremist groups will not be allowed to reform under new names.
Musharraf added that actions will be taken against those involved in the publication and distribution of "hate material."
Musharraf's comments come amid a fresh government crackdown on extremists in Pakistan, during which some 300 people are believed to have been detained.
Today, Pakistan's main Islamist parties are holding nationwide rallies in protest. Agencies quote a spokesman for Pakistan's main alliance of Islamist parties, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, as saying he believes many innocent people have been detained.