Asserting that Islam was not at conflict with modernisation, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has said extremist elements were trying to impose their rigid views on the vast majority and Muslim nations needed to work for reconciliation with the world.
Musharraf also warned that the sectarian divide of the Sunnis and Shias needed to be addressed immediately as the strife between the two sects could sow the seeds of a disaster that could engulf the entire Muslim world.
The Muslim world must take urgent steps to end sectarian strife, Musharraf said in a lecture titled 'Vision of an Islamic, democratic and welfare state in Pakistan,' to a gathering of scholars and intellectuals from the Muslim world in Islamabad on Wednesday.
The socio-economic and political problems within the Muslim world also needed to be addressed urgently, he said and stressed upon the resolution of lingering political disputes.
"Now is the time to act immediately to resolve long-standing political disputes including Palestine, Kashmir, Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon, in a just manner and with dignity and honour," he said.
Musharraf said Islam is not in conflict with democracy and modernisation but stressed that modernisation was distinct from westernisation. He pointed out that there is no consensus among Muslims about the interpretations of Islam and illiteracy had worsened the situation.
He said the teachings of Islam had generally been left to semi-literate religious people. He said that extremist and obscurantist elements are trying to impose their rigid views on the vast majority, while "fringe ultra-modern elements" are propagating secularism.