Thursday, July 21, 2005

Musharraf's Jihad

Since we pick on Pakistan so much, we thought we'd take a second to give credit where credit is due. Pervez Musharraf is quite literally laying it on the line, calling for jihad against Islamic extremists -- many of whom obviously train or get radicalized in some of Pakistan's madrassas.

The President of Pakistan has called on his people to undertake a jihad, or holy war, against religious extremism in a speech about the wave of arrests that he has ordered in the aftermath of the London bombings on July 7.

"I urge you, my nation, to stand up and wage jihad against extremism and to stand up against those who spread hatred and chaos in the society," said President Pervez Musharraf in an hour-long televised address.

Security forces in Pakistan said today they have arrested 228 suspected militants and extremist clerics in a series of raids on religious schools and private homes over the last week after three of the four London bombers were found to have links to the country.

General Musharraf expressed regret that the investigation into the July 7 bombings had shown strong links between Pakistani militants and the British men that carried out the attacks, but he also stressed that Britain must tighten its control over its own fundamentalist groups.

"There is a lot to be done by Pakistan internally," he said. "And may I suggest there is a lot to be done in England also. The current strategy to deal with this is to encourage and support each other rather than speaking against each other and blaming each other and weakening the overall cause."

General Musharraf condemned the July 7 bombings in strong terms, saying that he doubted that the "perpetrators of this act can be called human beings," before reiterating his request that British authorities do more to close down extremist groups in the UK.

"There is Hizb Ur-Tahrir and al-Muhajiroun, who operate with full impunity in that area," he said, referring to two radical Islamist groups in Britain. "They had the audacity of passing an edict against my life and yet they operate with impunity."

General Musharraf said that the campaign to gain control over fundamentalist groups in Pakistan would continue, and that all Islamic schools, or madrassas, would have to register with authorities by December.

Madrassas, especially those that impose strict, spartan regimes of Islamist teaching on young, impressionable men, are seen as important sources of recruitment to radical Islamic groups in Pakistan. Two of the London bombers are thought to have visited a series of madrassas when they visited Pakistan earlier this year.

The President also announced measures to increase government control over unauthorised weapons and provocative literature designed to spread religious hatred. He also promised that prohibited militant groups would not be allowed to re-organise under new names or to raise funds.

Whatever our misgivings about certain sizable segments of Pakistan's citizenry, Musharraf does seem like he wants to do the right thing, so good luck to him. He deserves props for the effort.

1 comment:

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