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Pakistan's Musharraf Vows to Eliminate Extremism
By Ayaz Gul
VOA, Islamabad
21 July 2005

Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf has issued a warning to those preaching religious extremism, saying a crackdown against militant Islamic forces will continue until they are eliminated. In a televised speech to the nation Thursday, the president also criticized Britain for trying to link this month's London bombings to groups in Pakistan.

In his hour-long televised address, President Musharraf underlined the need to rid Pakistani society of extremism and terrorism, saying they are hurting Pakistan's image and are defaming Islam.

The Pakistani leader promised stern action against outlawed Islamic groups collecting donations in the name of Jihad or holy war. He said no one would be allowed to preach hatred in mosques, and distribute material, including newspapers that incite religious violence.

The Pakistani leader spoke to the nation after security forces rounded up nearly 300 suspected militants in a countrywide crackdown on outlawed extremist groups and religious seminaries.

Pakistan has been in the spotlight since it emerged that three suicide bombers involved in the July 7 attacks in London were of Pakistani origin and were in Pakistan recently. But President Musharraf says blaming Pakistan for these attacks is unfair.

"We very strongly condemn this act of terrorism. I don't think the perpetrators of this act can be called human beings," he said.

Mr. Musharraf urged Britain to crack down on extremist Islamic groups at home, saying these forces are operating with impunity there. The Pakistani leader also pointed out that the suspected bombers who killed 56 people and wounded 700 had been born and educated in Britain and that one came from Jamaica.

"We certainly have a problem here, which we are trying to address very strongly. But may I say that England also has a problem, which needs to be addressed. There are extremist organizations in United Kingdom… The correct strategy to deal with this is to encourage and support each other rather than speaking against each other and blaming each other," he said.

President Musharraf says both Pakistan and Britain need to reinforce cooperation against terrorist and extremist forces. In his address, the Pakistani leader said all religious seminaries in Pakistan, locally known as madrassas, must be registered with the government by the end of this year. Reports say at least one of the London suicide bombers spent time in these Islamic schools, but those reports have not been confirmed.