The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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PM punch at terror in divine cloak

New Delhi, Feb. 10: Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said terrorism was increasingly drawing its “ideological inspiration” from religious extremism and jihadi terrorism had become the principal form of terrorism all over the world.

But he was quick to delink jihad from Islam and said Islam neither sanctioned nor justified terrorism. “No religion preaches hatred or sanctions killings of innocent human beings,” the Prime Minister said.

Inaugurating a two-day International Youth Conference on Terrorism organised by the BJP’s youth wing today, Vajpayee said militants cloaked their campaign in religion of the jihad variety for two reasons: One, to “seek some kind of popular legitimacy” and two, to “recruit youths and impart to them suicidal levels of motivation”.

“It is through such misuse of religion that jihadi terrorism is trying to violently impose its own rigid, intolerant social order uniformly around the world. The murderous campaign has not spared even the Muslim populations, as was evident from what the Taliban did in Afghanistan,” he said.

The Prime Minister cited the December 13 attack on Parliament as an example of jihadi terrorism and cautioned the international community to watch out for the “real possibility of chemical and biological weapons and weapons of mass annihilation falling into the hands of terrorist organisations”.

However, Vajpayee did not spare Hindu sectarian groups either. In an apparent attack on the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and its efforts to revive the Ram temple issue, he said: “No organisation, irrespective of whether it claims to espouse the cause of the majority or the minority community, can be allowed to inflame passions, spread hatred and incite violence.”

He urged youth delegates to “work actively to isolate such organisations and individuals”.

“While the fight against international terrorism is principally the responsibility of governments, youth organisations can play a supportive role. It is well-known that extreme fundamentalist groups draw their sustenance, and often their fresh recruits, from an underground as well as overground ideological campaign among the general population with a specific focus on students and the youth,” Vajpayee said.

The Prime Minister was critical of Pakistan for drawing a distinction between “different acts of terrorism” in Jammu and Kashmir’s context and the US for its “double standards” in determining what constituted terrorism.

“My young friends, distinctions are sometimes drawn between different acts of terrorism. In some cases, we are told, it is not really terrorism, but a freedom struggle. This is how our neighbour has been trying to justify its policy of cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir,” Vajpayee said.

Without naming the US, Vajpayee added: “Similarly, some countries have a tendency to condone terrorism somewhere, while condemning it elsewhere. This is counterproductive, because such lenience will boomerang on all of us.”

Earlier, BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu linked the issue of terrorism to peace and prosperity and said both were mutually interdependent.

“More than poverty and development, terrorism is a grave challenge. If you want prosperity and progress, you need peace. This is possible only if you have the collective will to curb the menace of terrorism,” Naidu said.

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