10/15/2008, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Lahore, Ulema Council: suicide attacks are "un-Islamic"

by Qaiser Felix
Prominent Islamic scholars in the country recall that only the state can proclaim jihad, and not extremist groups. A fatwa has been issued against the attackers who bloody the country. Archbishop of Lahore: "no religion approves of terrorism."

Lahore (AsiaNews) - A conference that unites accredited Pakistani Islamic scholars, meeting in Lahore, declared yesterday that suicide attacks are "un-Islamic, and forbidden," recalling that only the state has the authority to proclaim jihd (holy war), not individuals or groups.

The Muttahida Ulema Council, during the conference in Jania Naeemia, also unanimously issued a fatwa (edict) against the recent wave of suicide bombing attacks that have killed hundreds of people in the country.

Archbishop Lawrence John Saldanha, president of the Pakistani Catholic bishops' conference, applauds and supports the decision. He explains to AsiaNews that "no religion approves of terrorism or suicide bombings."

Malik Rehman, an adviser to the interior minister, has also praised the fatwa, and expresses his hope that it will discourage suicide attacks.

But the clerics are more critical of the government, which, they say, is pursuing the objectives of the United States, under the pretense of the war on terror. They are asking the government to suspend its military operations in tribal areas, and to seek negotiated solutions with the population there. They have also decided to send a delegation to the civil war areas of Bajaur and Swat, in order to get a more precise idea of the situation.

The group Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan and various politicians have asked that the alleged terrorists be allowed to speak in parliament, to explain their point of view.

The request has been criticized by Archbishop Saldanha, who does not believe that statements from people accustomed to spreading extremist ideas, and asserting their ideas through violence, would be useful.

The prelate says that he is "optimistic" that "this present secret session of the parliament would allow the politicians to make some good policies for the country."

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