Pakistan's President Vows to Crush Extremists

A Pakistan viewer watches a bank of televisions showing images of President Pervez Musharraf. i i

A Pakistan viewer watches a bank of televisions showing images of President Pervez Musharraf during his address to the nation on radio and State Television in Islamabad on Thursday. Farooq Naeem/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Farooq Naeem/AFP/Getty Images
A Pakistan viewer watches a bank of televisions showing images of President Pervez Musharraf.

A Pakistan viewer watches a bank of televisions showing images of President Pervez Musharraf during his address to the nation on radio and State Television in Islamabad on Thursday.

Farooq Naeem/AFP/Getty Images

Pakistan's president has vowed to crush extremists throughout his Muslim nation and to move against religious schools, like those at the Red Mosque, that breed them.

In a nationally televised address, President Gen. Pervez Musharraf said by the end of the year, security forces along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border would be equipped with modern weaponry, including tanks, to bolster a counterterrorism push.

"It is our resolve that we will eliminate extremism and terrorism wherever it exists," he said. "Extremism and terrorism will be defeated in every corner of the country," he said.

The crackdown on the Red Mosque has raised Musharraf's standing among moderates and foreign backers worried about rising extremism in Pakistan. But it has given hard-liners a rallying point, as well as new martyrs, and has prompted calls from al-Qaida and the Taliban for revenge attacks.

According to official reports, 108 people died in the eight-day siege and army assault at the mosque.

There were at least three protests Thursday in Pakistan and two suicide attacks that killed six people in the northwest, a hotbed of Islamic extremism. Government forces surrounded the mosque compound in the capital, Islamabad, following deadly clashes with militants. Elite Special Services Group commandos raided the mosque after unsuccessful attempts to get the militants to surrender.

Troops found the body of the cleric's brother, Abdul Rashid Ghazi, among the remains of at least 73 people after the 35-hour commando assault ended Wednesday. Ghazi's body was released to his relatives, who carried it to his ancestral village in Punjab province for burial.

The chief cleric, Maulana Abdul Aziz, was escorted by police to the village, Basti Abdullah, so that he could lead the funeral attended by about 3,000 mourners and some 700 police, including 100 plainclothes officers, officials said.

According to custom, prisoners are normally granted permission to attend the funerals of close relatives. Aziz remains under arrest facing charges including possession of illegal weapons and involvement in terrorism.

"Hundreds of our mothers, sisters, sons and daughters have rendered sacrifices," said Aziz, dressed in white with a checkered head scarf. "God willing, Pakistan will have an Islamic revolution soon. The blood of martyrs will bear fruit.

"Our struggle will continue. There are many Ghazis living to be martyred," said Aziz, who was captured during the siege while trying to flee disguised as a woman from the Red Mosque.

From The Associated Press

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