Musharraf condemns 'backward' Muslims deflecting attention from backward rulers?

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2002 21:13:03 -0000

PRESIDENT MUSHARRAF of Pakistan provoked the ire of Muslims yesterday
when he berated Muslims as the “most unenlightened and the weakest of
all the human race” and called for an act of collective self-criticism. 

He blamed the backwardness of Muslims on their involvement in
“fratricidal conflicts” which, he said, was the main reason why they
were perceived as terrorists. General Musharraf’s scathing comments came
while his military Government is locked in a confrontation with the
extremists who have vowed to bring him down. 

Liaquat Baluch, a leader of the militant Jamaat-i Islami group, has
called on Pakistani Islamic groups to unite against the Government,
describing the military leader as a “threat to national security”. 

General Musharraf said that the Islamic world was living in darkness.
Muslims had been left behind the developed world because they had not
invested in education and technology. 

“Today we are the poorest, the most illiterate, the most backward, the
most unhealthy, the most unenlightened, the most deprived and the
weakest of all the human race,” he told a science and technology
conference on Saturday. The time had come for Islamic nations to take
part in collective self-criticism. “Once such an assessment is made, it
would not be difficult to realise that the entire Islamic world was far
behind the developed world,” he said. 

General Musharraf launched a crackdown on radicals last month, arresting
more than 2,000 and banning five groups. Senior police officers said
that the outlawed groups were planning to attack government
installations and to murder government members. 

General Musharraf’s confrontation with extremism and his policy of
supporting the US has provoked a backlash from militants, who have
kidnapped Daniel Pearl, an American journalist. 

Pakistani police have arrested more than 30 people in the eastern
province of Punjab, while stepping up their hunt for Amjad Hussain
Farooqui, a key suspect in the abduction. Police said that the suspect,
who also used an alias, Imtiaz Siddiqui, was believed to be holding the
missing Wall Street Journal correspondent. 

Police have arrested two brothers of Mr Farooqui and several of his
associates in Toba Tek Singh district in Punjab. They believe that while
Saeed Omar Sheikh, a British-born Islamic militant, financed and planned
the crime, it was Mr Farooqui who carried out the kidnapping more than
three weeks ago in Karachi. 

Mr Sheikh, appearing before a court last week charged with the
kidnapping, said he believed that the reporter was dead. This claim has
been dismissed by investigators. 

A man using the name Siddiqui telephoned Mr Pearl twice just before he
disappeared, according to Jameel Yusuf, the head of the Citizens-Police
Liaison Committee, who was with Mr Pearl when he took the calls.
Siddiqui promised to take Mr Pearl to interview an Islamic radical
leader, and arranged to meet him on a Karachi street. Mr Pearl has not
been seen since. 

Mr Farooqui is also believed to have been involved with four men who
hijacked an Indian Airlines aircraft carrying 155 passengers from
Kathmandu in Nepal in 1999 and ordered it to fly to to Kandahar. 

Mr Farooqui was freed from an Indian jail in exchange for the release of
the passengers, who crossed into Pakistan. 

Investigators said that they were also investigating the possible
involvement of another former hijacker in Mr Pearl’s abduction. He was
said to be an Arab national. 
Source:  The Times

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