Sectarian threat slowing Pakistan’s progress: Maqbool
LAHORE: There is still a risk of sectarian violence in Pakistan and it is hindering the country’s progress, Punjab Governor Lt General (r) Khalid Maqbool said at an Iftar dinner at the Governor’s House.
Speaking to an audience of clerics from various sects, Mr Maqbool said the government was working on promoting a religiously tolerant and harmonious society, but these aims had not yet been fully achieved.
“Sectarianism is one of the serious problems Pakistan faces, and if people want to help they must support President Pervez Musharraf’s campaign in the war against terrorism,” the governor said.
He said the law enforcement agencies had been ordered to closely monitor sectarian groups. “Islam does not allow us to kill any human being, not in the name of race or sect. Unfortunately, even though we are Muslims, we have not been able to curb these acts in the name of religion,” he said.
The governor asked the clerics to promote religious harmony and tolerance through their seminaries.
He said the government was a member of the world coalition against terrorism and had done much to stem recent terrorist attacks. He said some “silly people” in Pakistan were trying to portray the war against terrorism as a clash of civilisations and demanding the government adopt an extremist policy. “This is entirely unjustified,” he said.
Mr Maqbool said this was a difficult period not just for Pakistan, but all Muslim countries and the Ummah. He spoke about the clash between liberal and extremist forces in Iran, operations against religious fanatics in Saudi Arabia, and underground network of hardliners in Indonesia, all of which were a threat to these countries’ sovereignty.
Mr Maqbool said Saudi prince Shah Fahad bin Abdul Aziz, Iran President Mohammad Khatami and Gen Musharraf were the “leaders of the new open-minded forces of Islam”. He said Muslim countries would have to increase focus on scientific education and technology to end their backwardness.
Punjab Home Department advisor Hafiz Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi said the government had extracted a “Fatwa” from the major Islamic schools of thoughts that “the people involved in terrorist activities in the name of Islam are not followers of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). He said there was less sectarian violence in the Punjab than in other provinces.
Besides clerics, college students and teachers and government officials also attended the dinner.