Pakistan's leaders have urged their countrymen to reject militancy and religious extremism, saying they are threatening the country's independence and holding back its development.
At a ceremony in the eastern city of Lahore marking the 58th anniversary of Pakistan's independence, President Pervez Musharraf said the only hurdles to the country's progress are extremism, narrow-mindedness and intolerance. General Musharraf's call came hours after Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said the country must unite to defeat terrorism and send a message to the world that Pakistan rejects extremism. Islamic militants have launched a number of attacks in Pakistan, including an assassination attempt on the prime minister last year and three attempts to kill the president. Last month, the country's security forces detained more than 600 suspected militants, clerics and Islamist activists in a nationwide crackdown.