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Pakistan faces threat from within: Musharraf

By B. Muralidhar Reddy

ISLAMABAD Dec. 12. The Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, has said his country faced danger from within. ``Remember my words, we face danger only from terrorism, extremism and sectarianism,'' he said after a ceremony to commission the first indigenously-built Agosta 90B submarine `Saad' at the PN Dockyard in Karachi.

Gen. Musharraf told the gathering that terrorism, extremism and sectarianism would have to be curbed and eradicated.

The strength of a country rests on two pillars — economy and military — and if one of them is weak it can harm the building. ``By the grace of Allah, both these pillars are strong and that there is a need to further strengthen them,'' he said.

``There is only one area in which the country is facing danger. This is neither military nor economic, which have improved and are improving further. That area is internal dissension and in this the biggest threat is sectarianism, religious militancy and terrorism which is eating us like a termite.''

Gen. Musharraf said, ``Muslim population in Pakistan constituted 98 per cent and only God knows who is a good Muslim. No one has the right to tell the other to be a good Muslim, as one does not know who is a better Muslim.''

Sectarianism and terrorism were weakening not only Pakistan internally but also affecting other Muslim countries and the Ummah as a whole.

Later, Gen. Musharraf told mediapersons that Pakistan's strategy of deterrence was well founded and that it would be maintained.

``This strategy is defensive and that we have no design to go on the offensive and attack an enemy. But if we are attacked we will defend and in that defence we are going to be very, very offensive. That is the strategy,'' he said.

Replying to a question on the fencing of the Line of Control by India, he said the status of the LoC should not be changed. ``Any such thing that does so should be avoided, especially these days when there is an activity towards peace as well as rapprochement and resolution of disputes.''

About the Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee's visit to attend the SAARC summit to be held in Islamabad in January, Gen. Musharraf expressed optimism that Mr. Vajpayee would come.

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