ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – President Gen. Pervez Musharraf appealed to Pakistanis on Thursday to fight extremists in their midst, and officials said they were seeking the former aide of a radical cleric in Britain in connection with the July 7 bombings in London.
Musharraf’s nationally televised address came as Britain’s ambassador, High Commissioner Mark Lyall Grant, said there have been no arrests in Pakistan related to the July 7 attacks, contradicting reports in recent days by Pakistani authorities that some suspects in the attacks were in detention.
In his hourlong speech, taped before Thursday’s explosions in London, Musharraf acknowledged Pakistan had a “problem” with militants, amid international concern that Islamic schools here are promoting extremism. But he said Pakistan should not be labeled as lax in the war on terror simply because three suspected suicide bombers were of Pakistani origin, and visited Pakistan in 2004.
“We certainly have a problem here which we are trying to address. England has a problem also,” Musharraf said, citing homegrown extremist groups in Britain.
“There is a lot to be done by Pakistan,” said Musharraf, who strongly condemned the deadly July 7 attacks. “May I suggest there is a lot to be done in England also.”
“Please rise and wage jihad against extremism,” Musharraf said, invoking the term for holy war that is often used by militants.
The Pakistani intelligence officials said British investigators asked Pakistani authorities to search for Haroon Rashid Aswat, who reportedly had been in close contact with the suicide bombers just before the July 7 attacks, which killed 56 people, including the four attackers.
Aswat, 31, is of Indian origin and may not be in Pakistan, according to two intelligence officials in Islamabad and one in the eastern city of Lahore, all speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to the media and because of the sensitivity of the inquiry…