LONDON, Aug 13: Acknowledging India’s sincerity in resolving the Kashmir problem, President Pervez Musharraf has said the process should be expedited to enable him to firmly deal with extremism.

“I see the sincerity of the Indian leadership. But if we can move faster towards a resolution of Kashmir, my hands will be stronger to deal with extremism,” he said in an interview to the Daily Telegraph on Saturday.

“I have told the Indians we can only control extremists to a degree. But there will be nowhere for the extremists to go once there is a settlement on Kashmir,” the president said.

Answering a question on the success he has achieved in dealing with extremists, he admitted that previously his hands were tied, either because of the 10-month-long confrontation with India in 2002 or the last general elections or political insecurities at home and abroad.

“The situation is now far different from what I faced before,” he said. “Now I am much stronger.” After last month’s London bombings, as many as 800 militants had been arrested and 1,400 foreign students attending addresses asked to leave the country, he added.

President Musharraf said he had made it clear to police and the ministries concerned that the government was deadly serious about a crackdown on those banned extremist groups who had re-emerged under a new name, the closure of publications propagating ‘hate’, creating a new syllabus for madressahs and their registration by December.

The registration of 15,000 madressahs was announced in January 2002, but barely a few hundred registered. “This time those madressahs who don’t register by December will be shut down,” the president said.

Accusations that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) still backed Taliban were false, he said. Its officers dealing with Afghanistan had been changed ‘’two or three times’ since 2001 and nobody was left from the old guard who might have ideological affiliations with Taliban, he said.

“All this talk about the ISI being a government within a government is wrong. There is no government within a government. There is only one government.”

Much of Taliban resistance was being generated from inside Afghanistan, he said but admitted that there were some Taliban elements clandestinely based in Pakistan, crossing the border.

He accused extremist elements belonging to the Jamiat Ulema-i- Islam, a religio-political party that governs the two provinces bordering Afghanistan, of allowing Taliban to use sanctuaries inside Pakistan. —-Online

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