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Britain is a safe heaven for terrorists: Musharraf

Source: PTI
August 01, 2005 15:09 IST
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Accusing Britain of providing Islamic militants a safe haven in a bid to "project" itself as a champion of human rights, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has said the UK should ban extremist groups.

"Many people around the world find it convenient to leave their countries and go to Britain, which they regard as a safe haven as it wants to project itself as a champion of human rights," Musharraf told the Sunday Times.

"They should have been doing what they have been demanding of us to do -- to ban extremist groups like they asked us to do here in Pakistan and which I have done," he said.

Musharraf said Britain should have banned Al-Muhajiroun and Hizb ul-Tahrir, groups that he accuses of preaching anger and hatred and of calling for his assassination.

"They could have banned these two groups. Good action is when you foresee the future and pre-empt and act before hand, instead of reacting as in the case of Britain – which waited for the damage to be done and is now reacting to it."

Musharraf, an ally of British Prime Minister Tony Blair in the war on terror, took "strong exception" to accusations leveled against Pakistan since it emerged that at least two of the July 7 bombers had visited the country for several weeks up to February this year.

One of them, Shehzad Tanweer, from the Leeds suburb of Beeston, is said by relatives in Pakistan to have spent time there with militants from the banned terrorist extremist Jaish-e-Mohammed organization.

Blair has intensified pressure on Musharraf to clamp down on militant training camps and radical madrasas. Musharraf announced last week that all 1,400 foreign students at Islamic schools in Pakistan would be asked to leave.

Musharraf said that while he had already implemented sweeping measures, much remained to be done in Britain. "But now they have to reconsider and take action against these groups."

Condemning the London bombers as "people who needed to be eliminated", the Pakistan president bristled at suggestions that the outrage may have been masterminded from Pakistan because three of the bombers were British nationals of Pakistani parentage.

"They came on their British passports -- what do you expect us to do? Prevent British passport holders from entering?"

Intelligence services were till trying to verify whether one of the bombers had attended a madrasa in Pakistan: "If he has gone to a madrasa, we will take action against that madrasa."

He said Pakistani investigators were using phone records provided by London to interview everyone in the country whom two of the bombers had called from Britain.


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