Terrorism’ has besieged Islamic world, says President Musharraf

July 10 2004

Terrorism’ has besieged Islamic world, says President Musharraf

BAKU: Terrorism is holding the Muslim world hostage, Pakistan’s
President Pervez Musharraf said on Friday on the eve of his official
visit to the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan.

But, the West must also change its attitude to the Islamic world —
and in particular persuade Israel to withdraw from Palestinian
territory — if global terrorism is to be crushed, he said.

The Pakistani leader made the remarks in a wide-ranging speech about
the challenges facing the Islamic world during his state visit to
Azerbaijan, a mainly Muslim state which has forged close links with

“Unfortunately the Islamic world is faced with many problems. It is
as if the Islamic world is facing a storm,” the 60-year-old
president, speaking through an interpreter, told a special session of
the Azeri parliament.

“It is also unfortunate that terrorism does harm to Muslim
countries… The tactics they use, terrorism, car bombs, executions
and other dirty methods, damage our great religion. Today they are
holding our societies hostage.”

“They must understand that they cannot solve the problems of the
Islamic world this way…I call on them to return to the true path.”

But he said the West, and particularly the United States, had to
assist the Islamic world in stamping out terrorism.

Western nations could do this by helping Islamic countries develop
their economies. The West should also help resolve a series of
conflicts in which Muslim communities have found their territory
under occuppation, he said.

He listed Pakistan’s dispute with India over Kashmir, Azerbaijan’s
lingering conflict with its neighbour Armenia over the enclave of
Nagorno-Karabakh and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The Palestinian problem must be resolved in a just way,” the
Pakistani leader said. “Israel must accept reality and return to the
framework of its 1967 borders.”

“If we are able to put this into practise, then the world will be
able to root out extremism, militarism and terrorism,” Musharraf
added. “If the status quo remains, then that will not lead to the
resolution of these problems.”

Musharraf, an army chief who came to power in a bloodless coup five
years ago, is himself walking a delicate tightrope on Islamic issues.

After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States,
he supported the US-led operation to overthrow the Taliban regime in
Afghanistan, and root out terrorist groups.

But that support for Washington has made him a villain in the eyes of
many Muslim radicals. He has since been the target of several
near-miss assassination attempts.

Musharraf was speaking on the second day of his visit to Azerbaijan,
a country of eight million mostly Shia Muslims bordering Russia and

On Thursday, Musharraf signed a package of documents on trade and
security cooperation between the two countries. He said that in
Azerbaijan, Islamabad
had found a steadfast international ally.

Later Friday, Musharraf is due to go on a walkabout in the Azeri
capital, Baku, and attend a concert in his honour at the State
Philharmonic Hall.

Musharraf and his entourage are scheduled to leave Azerbaijan on
Saturday morning.