Global efforts failing to stamp out terror: Zardari
ISLAMABAD, Feb 22: In what can be described as an indictment of global efforts to stamp out terrorism and extremism from the society, President Asif Ali Zardari said on Friday the efforts were likely to end in failure.
Speaking at the concluding session of the National Conference on Inter-faith Harmony organised by Ministry of National Harmony at the presidency, he said he had been pleading with world leaders that the manner in which the problem was being addressed was wrong.
Apparently opposing the use of force as the sole means of tackling the menace, President Zardari remarked: “We believe in ‘tolerant Islam’ and have to counter those who believe in hate with peaceful efforts.”
Referring to the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan, the president said that even three decades of war in the country would not bring peace there. “And Pakistan is affected particularly badly by the turmoil in Afghanistan.”
There was a time, he said, when no one in Pakistan thought of blowing himself up because “Islam was against suicide”.
People lived in peace and harmony and there were no sectarian issues. “But then the global politics changed and religion was used as a weapon of war.”
The world had yet to realise fully the dangerous consequences of using religion and faith as a weapon of war, Mr Zardari said.
The world needed to adopt peaceful means to eliminate the menace of extremism and terrorism, he said.
The president also recalled the words of Benazir Bhutto who told former American president George Bush during a conversation that “a Frankenstein is being created to defeat the rival ideology”.
Mr Zardari said it was disturbing to see that values like tolerance and harmony were fast eroding. “Extremism is not confined to one religion or country. It is growing across the world,” he remarked.
“We must act before rationality is completely destroyed,” he added.
Speaking on the occasion, Adviser to Prime Minister on National Harmony Dr Paul Bhatti said that since its inception in 2011 his ministry had been taking steps to promote harmony and inter-faith dialogue.
He said that more than 4,000 scholarships had been awarded to students hailing from poor families and the number of seats reserved for minority communities had been increased in the national and provincial assemblies.
Dr Bhatti said that no religion taught violence or extremism, and added: “We should live together peacefully as citizens of Pakistan as envisioned by the Quaid-i-Azam.”
Justice (retd) Rana Bhagwandas was of the view that the challenge of terrorism could be addressed through unity and tolerance.
He said the country was passing through a critical phase and there was a need to take practical steps to promote inter-faith harmony.
Central Ruet-i-Hilal Committee chairman Mufti Muneebur Rehman read out a declaration adopted at the conference which calls for establishing a National Council for Inter-faith Harmony comprising representatives of different faiths.
The conference also recommended formation of local committees to promote national harmony. It also recommended discarding the use of the word ‘minorities’ and replacing it with some appropriate words like ‘non-Muslim Pakistanis’.
The conference recommended measures aimed at promoting inter-faith dialogue and also the steps the international community should take to address the root causes of terrorism.
It condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and emphasised that the menace should not be attributed to a particular group, nation or religion. —APP