ISLAMABAD, Dec 4: President Gen Pervez Musharraf said on Thursday that the government was committed to root out extremism and made it clear that the banned militant organizations would not be allowed to resurface under any new name.

Speaking at a gathering of about 80 ulema and Mashaikh at the Aiwan-i-Sadr, the president said the recent decision to bafn extremist groups promoting militancy was taken in the national interest after thorough consultations. “It was not taken under any foreign influence,” he stressed.

The president urged the religious leaders to use mosques to promote unity and tolerance and educate the masses about the impacts of militancy and extremism on the country, both internally and internationally.

President Musharraf said the world had become a global village where negative developments were instantly flashed by the media.

No country, he said, could develop in isolation, as all countries were inter-dependent. He said this was specially so in the case of developing countries including Pakistan and the ummah, who lag behind in socio-economic development as well as in scientific advancement.

The president noted that despite having tremendous natural resources the Muslim world remained in the backwaters of world development and thus depended on cooperation of developed nations. He said the Muslim countries depended on the developed world in setting up industries, medicines and health-related equipments as well as for higher education.

Gen Musharraf said he had been informing the international community that religious schools (Deeni Madaris) were the largest NGOs working in Pakistan as they provided free board and lodging to over 800,000 students.

However, he said, few of them were involved in spreading sectarianism, display of arms and providing refuge to foreign students entering the country without valid documents.

The president called for concerted efforts to end such practices as these practices had negative repercussions for the country and also created a bad impression of Pakistan in the world outside.

He said it would be wrong to think that we could survive in isolation and vacuum. We must, therefore, not indulge in fighting or acrimony with the developed countries, he added.

“We have to save Pakistan, put it on the path of development and only then we can play a leading role in helping the ummah on the path to emancipation with sincerity and good intentions,” he added.

The president asked the religious leaders to examine hypocrisy existing in the society. He asked the ulema to assist the government in dealing with sectarianism and extremism and forging a spirit of tolerance and unity.

Commenting on the allegation about the presence of Taliban in the tribal areas, the president said it was possible that people involved in killings in Afghanistan might have crossed into Pakistan. “It is essential that other side also take necessary measures to prevent this.”

The president urged the ulema to support the government and at the same time point out its mistakes.

The president said Pakistan was at the crossroads and had an important role to play. “Our positive and constructive actions can raise the stature of our country in the comity of the nations while failing to do so would cause irreparable damage.”

An official announcement said the ulema and Mashaikh appreciated the initiatives of the president for consultations and for his policies, which had steered Pakistan out of a grave crisis.

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