ISLAMABAD, Feb 17: Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmed Badawi said here on Thursday that the Organization of Islamic Conference desired a negotiated settlement of the US-Iran stand off over nuclear issue and was opposed to the repeat of an Iraq-like situation in another Muslim country.
Answering a question at a news conference, the visiting Malaysian leader said that as far as the OIC role was concerned he would like all member states to voice their concern over any escalation of hostilities between the United States and Iran.
Mr Badawi, who is the current chairman of the OIC, said he was alive to the situation and was using his good offices to resolve the issue. About a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Pakistan and Malaysia, he said intensive talks were being held on a Preferential Trade Agreement which hopefully would lead to the FTA between the two countries. "FTA will come later as we have started talks for PTA between ourselves as the first step," he said.
In reply to a question, he said the Malaysian investment in Pakistan was negligible at the moment, but both countries had realised it and pledged to enhance bilateral trade and business cooperation to the benefit of their peoples.
Mr Badawi expressed satisfaction over his visit to Islamabad and talks with President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on various issues confronting the world, the region and both their countries.
He said he had discussed the matter of manpower import from Pakistan which had been delayed due to 9/11-related developments and expressed the hope that the process would start soon.
He said as the people-to-people contact would grow and interaction between businessmen and traders of the two countries would increase the volume of economic cooperation would go up.
The Malaysian leader said he and Prime Minister Aziz had decided to expand cooperation in development of human resources. He said the governments and the leadership of both the countries had reaffirmed their commitment to work together and to see that their collaboration bore fruit.
In replying to a question about the detention of a Malaysian national in connection with his links with Dr A.Q. Khan, Mr Badawi said the man, Tahir, was undergoing investigation and added that there was no question of handing over him to the US or any other country.
Referring to the issue of terrorism, he said: "In my view this menace has been mainly caused by abject poverty and illiteracy, prevalence of which is more in the Muslim world. If we have to eradicate terrorism then we will have to address these problems and resolve them first."
He said terrorism was more destructive for Islam as the poor and illiterate Muslim youths were easily exploited by a handful of unscrupulous elements who were defaming Islam which was a religion of peace and fraternity.
The Malaysian premier stressed the need for judicious use of the Muslim media to project the true image of Islam which stood for moderation, enlightenment, progress and development.
APP ADDS: Speaking at the International Islamic University where he was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Law, Mr Badawi said that terrorists committing crimes in the name of Islam were "violators of the tenets of Islam".
"They do not serve the interests of the religion," he said. Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz was the chief guest at the ceremony. Mr Badawi rejected as "negative profiling" attempts to associate Islam with terrorism.
"Terrorists must be singled out only by their acts of terror and nothing else. Terrorists who commit crimes in the name of Islam are violators of the tenets of Islam." He said Islam and Muslim countries should not be made accountable for those carrying out terrorism in the name of religion.
Mr Badawi said it was the duty of the Muslims to clear the confusion created by people "who carry out heinous deeds and later claim them as an Islamic religious obligation."
He also called for seriously and sincerely addressing the issue of 'Jihad' and its true application in the modern world. "Islamic scholars define jihad in terms of sustained effort to discipline one's own self in obedience to Allah Almighty. Jihad also implies an endeavour to uphold social justice, peace and fair play. Still our Prophet (PBUH) described jihad-bil-nafs as the greater," he said.
He, however, regretted that some have narrowed down the concept of 'Jihad' to 'Qital' which concerns physical fighting. "It was even more unfortunate that this is the only meaning commonly understood by the general public," he added.
This meaning, he added, in turn conveyed to the wider world. "If Muslims themselves can make this mistake, how can we expect others to be more enlightened," he posed a question and observed, "Muslims are as much to blame for the distortion of the meaning of Jihad". -APP