ISLAMABAD, Jan 12: President Gen Pervez Musharraf on Saturday announced a ban on five extremist groups and put another on the watch list with a view to cleansing the society of terrorism, sectarian violence and intolerance.
Addressing the nation on radio and television, the president talked about sectarian violence, terrorism and bigotry, and expressed his resolve to create tolerance and brotherhood in the country in the light of the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the guidelines set by the Quaid-i-Azam and Allama Iqbal. Gen Musharraf said that Jaish-i-Mohammad, Lashkar -i- Taiba, Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan, Tehrik-i-Jaferia Pakistan, and Tanzim Nifaz-i-Shariat-i-Mohammadi stood banned forthwith, and added that Sunni Tehrik was put on the watch list.
"No party in future will be allowed to be identified with words like Jaish, Lashkar or Sipah," the president warned. Only last year, he pointed out, 400 people had been killed in violent activities. "We have arrested some gangs, including the Imam of a mosque, who were involved in sectarian killings, which justifies the banning of extremist parties," he added.
By March 23, the president declared, all Madaris (religious schools) would have to be registered and they could not function without obtaining a No-Objection Certificate.
In his hour-long speech, he said that foreign students and teachers would have to get themselves registered with the concerned government agencies. "And if they are found without valid documentation and permission from their respective governments by March 23, they will be deported."
Gen Musharraf said that announcing decisions was an easy task but to implement them was a real issue. In this behalf he assured that the police and judiciary would play their due roles to get hold of anti-social elements and bring them to book. He said that he would soon be announcing "speedy trial courts" to be set up to try those who were involved in terrorism and sectarian killing. The sanctity of mosques and Imambargahs, he said, would be restored and the writ of the government would be established at all costs.
The president announced limiting the use of loudspeakers in mosques which would now be used only for Friday khutbas and wa'az. "And if this facility is misused, it will also be banned," he added. President Musharraf appealed to religious leaders to preach tolerance and make the country prosperous by imparting both religious and worldly education. He said a majority of Madaris was doing a great service by offering religious education free of cost and as such they were no less than the NGOs that enjoyed good reputation at international level.
"I am the first one to forcefully project the cause of responsible Madaris and as such I am their great admirer," he said. But, he regretted that some of them were involved in encouraging hatred, violence and terrorism, which, he pointed out, would no more be accepted.
"Today, Pakistan does not face any real foreign threat. But from within the country, we have lots of threats for which we have to have a new beginning to make Pakistan strong in all respects," he said.
Pakistan, he said, could very well take on to any external threats but was finding difficulties to put its own house in order.
He said the government would soon be promulgating an ordinance to regulate the functioning of Madaris. And the police, Nazims and Auqaf department would ensure the implementation of various rules to govern Madaris and bring to book all those who would violate the law of the land.
The president repeatedly said that the governance had weakened as there was no writ of the government and that time had come to take serious measures to rehabilitate institutions by halting the activities of religious extremists and other criminals. Without mentioning the name of any country, the president said: "We should stop interfering in the affairs of others and stop using violence as a means to thrust our point of view on others". He said people should convince others to change their ideas rather than using a threatening language.
He made it clear that the government of the day alone was qualified to give the call for Jihad as was very much enshrined in the teachings of Islam and the Prophet (PBUH), and that no individual or party had the right to do so. "What kind of Islam you are preaching when you kill your own Muslim brothers here or in Afghanistan; how could the Taliban justify killing the Muslims of the Northern Alliance?" he asked.
He declared that Pakistan would not be allowed to be used for carrying out any terrorist or subversive activities in and outside the country. He warned the foreign Muslims who were using Pakistan as their hub of activities against foreign governments. "No way, we will not tolerate this any more".
Gen Musharraf called upon Madaris not to get misused by political parties to carry out their agenda. Pakistan, he said, had become state within a state and it had been rendered ungovernable. "But now this has to be changed and those who would not mend their ways should be ready for severe action," he warned.
APP adds: President Musharraf said that all mosques would be registered and no new mosques would be built without permission.