Sectarian strife threatens Muslim world: Musharraf
Live Punjab News Service
Islamabad -- The Muslim world must take action to counter sectarian strife that threatens to tear it apart, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf warned in a speech Thursday.
As his own course of "moderate enlightenment" takes him deeper into conflict with conservative forces at home, Musharraf stressed that Islam was not in conflict with democracy and modernisation, but that modernisation was distinct from Westernisation.
"We need to work for reconciliation with the world at large," the Associated Press of Pakistan quoted him as saying at a lecture Wednesday to scholars and intellectuals in Islamabad.
"Now is the time to act immediately to resolve long-standing political disputes including Palestine, Kashmir, Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon," he added.
There is currently no consensus about interpretations of Islam among Muslims, and illiteracy has further exacerbated the situation, with the teachings of Islam generally being left in the hands of semi-literate religious people, he said.
Extremist elements are trying to impose their rigid views on the vast majority, while fringe ultra-modern elements were propagating secularism, creating an unhealthy schism, Musharraf said.
Musharraf, who came to power in a 1999 coup, is a key ally in the US-led war on terror.
But he faces a threat in next year's parliamentary elections from religious parties who condemn his policies as "anti-Islamic" and pro-Western to Pakistan's detriment.