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Pervez for tolerance

Islamabad, June 10 (PTI): In his first visit to the northwestern frontier province, where the pro-Taliban government had imposed strict Islamic laws, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf called for a tolerant, instead of a “backward type” of Islam, as also for internal political stablity.

“Islam is a religion of tolerance and a religion of welfare which protects the rights of women and all classes,” he said while launching a Japanese-built road tunnel at Kohat.

“We have to decide, do we need the Taliban’s version of Islam or a civilised Islam'” Musharraf asked. “We do not need an intolerant and backward type of Islam in Pakistan.”

Rejecting the Opposition’s demand to quit his post as army chief, Musharraf said he has been a soldier for the 40 years and was not going to shed his uniform to appease the Opposition.

The Opposition, including the Islamist alliance Muttahida Majlis e-Amal (MMA), currently ruling NWFP, wants him to quit as chief of army as a compromise to accept his presidency and his constitutional amendments.

In his address delivered in the presence of the MMA leader and chief minister of the province, Akram Durrani, Musharraf called for a more liberal approach to propagate the Islamic way of life and said that growing beards, wearing salwar kameez and forcing women to wear burkhas should not be the issues that agitate the minds of people.

“These are peripheral issues for governance. This is small thinking,” he said.

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