M A I N   N E W S

Pak on tinderbox poised to explode: Zardari

Washington, March 5
Blaming the recent political assassinations on religious fanatics, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari today warned that fanaticism in his nation was a “tinderbox” poised to explode across the country and asked Washington to avoid confrontation and work together with Islamabad against terror.

“The religious fanaticism behind our assassinations is a tinderbox poised to explode across Pakistan. The embers are fanned by the opportunism of those who seek advantages in domestic politics by violently polarising society,” Zardari said in an oped in the ‘Washington Post’. But he declared that his government would not retreat nor would it be intimidated and would give a determined and calibrated response to terrorists.

Charging that assassinations of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer and Minority Affairs minister Shahbaz Bhatti was carried out by the “same elements” who killed his wife Benazir Bhutto, Zardari quoted her words to say the fight in his country was due to internal tensions within the Muslim society, which was threatening to degenerate into a clash between Islam and the West.

He said the small but increasingly belligerent minority was intent on undoing the very principles of tolerance upon which his nation was founded in 1947 and for which principles by Pakistan's founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah, lived and died.

“The extremists who murdered my wife and friends are the same who blew up the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad and who have blown up girls' schools in the Swat Valley,” he said. Zardari said the fight against terror and religious fanatics would suffer if there was friction between US and his country and referred to the recent standoff over the Davis affair. He said: “It was in no one’s interest to allow this (Davis case) matter to be manipulated and exploited to weaken the government of Pakistan and damage further the US image in our country”.

In his first comment on the Davis issue, the Pakistan President said: “We need not go into the legal, moral and political intricacies of this case. Suffice it to say the actions of Davis and others like him inflame passions in our country and undermine respect and support for the US among our people.” At the same time, he said threats of applying sanctions on Pakistan over the Davis affair would be “counterproductive”. “It is a threat, written out of the playbook of America's enemies, whose only result will be to undermine US strategic interests in South and Central Asia,” he said. — PTI

Man accused of blasphemy killed

Islamabad: A man who was accused of blasphemy was shot dead by unidentified gunmen on the outskirts of the Pakistani garrison city of Rawalpindi, two days after Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti was killed by militants for opposing the controversial blasphemy law. Mohammad Imran, who was booked for blasphemy with his friend Sajid Mehmood in April 2009, was killed by three masked gunmen in a shop in Danda village on the outskirts of Rawalpindi on Friday. — PTI

Taseer murder trial adjourned

Islamabad: A Pakistani anti-terrorism court on Friday adjourned till March 26 the case of the police guard who assassinated Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer after recording the statements of two witnesses. Mumtaz Qadri, a member of Taseer's security detail, gunned down the Governor on January 4. — PTI





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