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President calls for presenting true face of Islam

November 20, 2004

RAWALPINDI, Nov 19: President Gen Pervez Musharraf on Friday called for promoting true face of Islam as an enlightened, moderate and forward-looking religion to overcome obscurantism and extremism and to steer the Muslim world out of the current turmoil.

Speaking at a gathering of eminent Muslim scholars from various parts of the world, the president also reaffirmed Pakistan's commitment to root out extremism and terrorism through immediate and long-term measures and rid society of the menace of sectarianism.

The president reviewed the world scenario, observing that the world was in turmoil and underlined the need to resolve conflicts and political disputes affecting Muslims through an enlightened approach.

He referred to the strategy of enlightened moderation, which has also been adopted by the OIC, and stressed upon concurrent fulfilment of obligations under it, both by the West and the Muslim world.

"The Muslim world has to reject extremism and go for socio-economic development, but at the same time, the West must resolve political disputes affecting Muslims with justice and help in addressing the root causes of extremism including poverty and illiteracy, other than political deprivation and human sufferings."

However, the president clarified that enlightened moderation did not amount to Westernization of Muslim world. "We will modernize within our values." The president drew the attention of the Islamic scholars to the low socio-economic indicators of the Muslim world, urging that it must reject obscurantism and fight extremism, as acts by extremist elements tarnished the image of Islam, which stands for tolerance, peace and well-being of all.

"If we convert this decline into an ascendant course, it will be greatly helpful in moving forward on the path to socio-economic progress. "Let's improve ourselves, let's strengthen ourselves and rise."

The president also said the Organization of Islamic Conference should be restructured to grapple with the challenges facing the Muslim world in the 21st century. In this regard, he referred to the formation of a commission of 10 eminent persons from Muslim countries to suggest steps for the OIC restructuring and making it vibrant.

He stated that the establishment of a department of Islamic thought in the apex body of Muslim countries would be greatly helpful in bringing harmony and projecting real values of Islam.

On Pakistan's efforts against extremism, he said the country required a societal transformation to become a progressive and moderate Islamic country as envisioned by the Quaid-i-Azam and Allama Iqbal.

"We have to transform and change the mindset. The vast majority in Pakistan is moderate, but needs to assert itself. We have to get rid of the extremism and let enlightened Islam prevail."

"We have to fight terrorism, crush extremism and militancy, bring harmony and promote enlightened Islam." Pakistan, he said, could be a source and fountain head of enlightened Islam in the Muslim world.

"We have had great success and have caught over 600 terrorists. We do not want anyone fanning and financing extremism and terrorism in Pakistan and we will continue this campaign."

On sectarianism, he said, all segments of society should play their role in stopping the elements stoking sectarian hatred through the misuse of loud speakers and distribution of material promoting hatred.

The gathering included leading scholars from the United States, Canada, Holland, Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Syria, Malaysia, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. Other speakers on the occasion appreciated Pakistan's efforts in dealing with the challenges facing the Muslim world and said the international community greatly valued the contributions President Musharraf and his country in this regard. -APP