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Benazir lashes out at ‘political madressahs’

October 26, 2007

KARACHI, Oct 25: Pakistan People’s Party Chairperson Benazir Bhutto on Thursday lashed out on what she described as political madressahs which, she said, had “become arsenal of weapons and retreat for militants”.

“We need to investigate everything in madressahs,” she said, adding that her party had no problem with the real madressahs. “They are part of our civilisation and part of our culture and religion.” But there were others, wolves in sheep’s clothing, who would take the name of madressah and work against Islam, she said.The PPP chief was talking to media personnel at her Bilawal House residence. Answering a question about religious extremism and the role of madressahs, she said there are two types of such institutions – Deeni madressah and political madressah.The political madressahs, she said, sprung up with lots of funding and they did ‘more than brainwashing’.

She called for reconstituting the organisations of the madressahs and revisiting their curriculum to spread the real message of Islam and the message of co-existence.

“These political madressahs preach hatred and churn out brainwashed robots that become arsenal of weapons of violating the Constitution of Pakistan,” she said, adding that if the PPP government was formed, she would expect everybody follow the Constitution, to be disarmed and to be regulated and to teach what is truly Islamic. And if anybody disagrees that will be shut down.

Ms Bhutto also emphasised the need for documenting every madressah student so that their activities were monitored.

She said there were organisations and people who were “set up as goats for slaughter but the hidden hands are not exposed”.

“That is why I am saying don’t just look at the perpetrators, but look at the forces behind them. Let us find the financers, and the organisers,” she said.

Referring to terrorist threats to her life, Ms Bhutto said she was taking precautionary measures of her own to ‘deceive’ the terrorists. The government, she said, had advised her not to use car with tinted glasses and her own armed guards.She said that she was unable to understand why instead of relaxing the rules in this regard and enabling her to have maximum security, to her satisfaction, the authorities were advising against the precautionary measures she was taking to protect herself. “Why do they want the terrorists to know about my movement?”

Ms Bhutto said a big hand freely worked from Karakoram to the Arabian Sea and that must be unveiled. She said that tribal areas were no man’s land and narco-business there remained unchecked. She said that weapons business also patronised terrorists.

Answering a question, she disclosed that she had written a letter to the interior secretary and asked him to beef up her security.

She said that President Pervez Musharraf and the Sindh High Court had assured her of full security, but the Sindh government had not complied with the orders.

The PPP chairperson said that President Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz had been attacked by extremists and suicide bombers and “it remains a point that federal minister Ijaz-ul-Haq or PML-Q president Chaudhry Shujaat were never attacked by suicide bombers”. She, however, made it clear that she never meant that they or anyone else should be attacked by the terrorists.

She was surprised by a statement of a federal minister who said that the ground reality had changed after the suicide attacks on her rally. “What did he mean? Do such statements help reconciliation? If they want democracy, moderate Pakistan, they should condemn terrorists and not the PPP,” she said.

Asked about the draft code of conduct as suggested by the government, Ms Bhutto declared that no unilateral measures would be accepted and stressed that all parties must be consulted and they must all agree to it.