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Remove impression of Islam being the target: Musharraf tells US

June 26, 2003 11:38 IST

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has asked the United States to attack the root cause of terrorism instead of merely taking action against certain groups giving an impression in the Muslim world that Islam was being targeted.

"There are many misgivings in Pakistan about the justification and the utility of our cooperation with the US," he said in a speech to the US Institute of Peace on Wednesday.

Musharraf said this was due to the perception that symptoms rather than the root cause of terror and extremism are being addressed and that unjust situations, in which Muslim peoples are victims of state terror, are being ignored.

"The Muslim world has started thinking that their religion Islam is being targetted. On the other hand, the non-Muslim world has started perceiving Islam to be a religion of  terrorism, extremism, fundamentalism, intolerance."

Musharraf, who reiterated Pakistan's commitment to rooting out terrorism in all its forms, said there were people in his country who were yet to be convinced of the wisdom of being on the same side as Washington.

"I sincerely believe that if the Middle East and South Asia peace process can develop credibility, the very negative Muslim perceptions arising from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will become much less so."

Expressing his reservations over the increased scrutiny of Pakistani students by US authorities following the September 11 attack, Musharraf said it had sowed anti-American feelings among the citizens and students hesitate to come to the US for fear of harassment.

He said no Pakistani student had been implicated in any terrorist activity and hence any US prejudice against them is unwarranted.

More reports from Pakistan

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