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'Maldivian youths waging 'jihad' in Pak'

Source: PTI
February 21, 2010 15:54 IST
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Maldives on Sunday said some youths from the country are being recruited by militant outfits based in Pakistan and Afghanistan to wage 'jihad' and sought India's cooperation in preventing "any passage" for these people through the country.

Maldivian vice president Mohammaed Waheed Hassan, who is on a visit to India, said an increasing number of youths from his country have started "embracing a version of Islam which is more strict than the traditional Islamic values.

"Some of these people are going to Pakistan and Afghanistan and are waging jihad. We want these people back... We need them for our development," Hassan told PTI.

He said Maldives wants India's cooperation in preventing "any passage for these youngsters" through it.

"These are students and it is very easy for them to say they are going to puruse education and then...," he said, in an obvious reference to such youths.

"India has been cooperating with Maldives in all spheres. We need India's cooperation in this regard. India will understand our situation better," he said. "We don't have any particular instance (example), but India will understand."

However, Hassan did not elaborate what kind of cooperation or assistance his country needs from New Delhi on the issue.

He said one of the challenges being faced by the democratic government of Maldives is the attempt to create confusion within Islam over extremism.

The vice-president said Maldives had already taken up the issue with Pakistan Government and was taking steps to bring these people back home.

"The Pakistan government is working with us. We have sought their cooperation and they are cooperating with us. We want these people back for our development," Hassan said.

His remarks come months after Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed said some Maldivians were being "radicalised" and recruited by the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan to fight the government and coalition forces.

The vice president said Maldives needs young educated youths for its progress and in no way it can import labour for developing infrastructure and other things in the country. "We need these youth for our development. We need their services," he said.

On climate change, Hassan said Maldives wants India's assistance in accessing new technologies and data-gathering to tackle climate change, which threatens to submerge the tiny island.

"We also need India's cooperation in renewable and new energy resources," he said.

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