Fazl assails action against seminaries and ulema

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ISLAMABAD: Expres­sing ‘dissatisfaction’ over the law and order situation in the country, the JUI-F criticised the Punjab government on Sunday for its alleged action against seminaries and ulema in the name of operation against terrorism.

Briefing media on decisions taken by his party’s Central Majlis-i-Shoora at its two-day session, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman called for reviewing the decisions taken a year ago by the country’s national leadership and the government to counter terrorism.

“There is a need to review decisions. We need to see if the policy of using power for elimination of terrorism is successful or not?”

The maulana said he had expressed reservations over the National Action Plan (NAP) when it was being finalised. “But I was left alone at that time.” He said his party had supported NAP and the 21st Constitution Amend­ment and setting up military courts only for the sake of national unity.

“NAP and 21st Amendment are not divine revelations. Operation Zarb-i-Azb has not been started as a result of a divine injunction,” he said while stressing the need for reviewing the counter-terrorism strategy.

Accompanied by the Deputy Chairman of the Senate, Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, and Federal Minister for Housing and Works Akram Durrani, the JUI-F chief claimed that religious seminaries and mosques were being raided on a daily basis in Punjab.

“Both the federal and provincial governments know about the existence of armed organisations in the country but they are raiding only Madaris and mosques in search of one or two persons.”

Maulana Fazl, whose party is an ally of the PML-N in the federal government, alleged that the sanctity of mosques and Madaris was being violated in the name of security and action against terrorists.

The Maulana accused the Punjab government of including the names of religious leaders and Ulema belonging to some political parties in the Fourth Schedule and termed it a violation of the Constitution and human rights. The Fourth Schedule is a section of the Anti-terrorism Act under which suspects are kept under observation.

“You cannot deliver Khutabas (sermons). You cannot give Dars (religious teachings). You cannot lead prayers. Even members of Tableeghi organisations are not being allowed to carry out their peaceful and positive activities,” he said.

“We have not seen such actions even during martial laws,” said the Maulana. Even India had not imposed such restrictions on the Muslims there, he added.

He said the NAP, which had been devised after the terror attack on Peshawar’s Army Public School and all other decisions, including the setting up of military courts, had failed to produce desired results, which was evident from the recent attack on the Bacha Khan University in Charsadda.

The JUI-F chief also lashed out at the PTI-led government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and held it solely responsible for the two attacks.

“The centre had informed the KP government in the middle of December about a possible attack in Charsadda but the provincial authorities failed to prevent it,” he alleged, adding that the KP chief minister had himself admitted after the APS attack in 2014 that they had had prior reports about possibility of such an attack.

Without elaborating, he called for implementing recommendations of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII).

Responding to a question about a statement of CII Chairman Maulana Mohammad Khan Sheerani about revision of controversial blasphemy laws, Maulana Fazl termed it “personal opinion” of Maulana Sheerani.

“He is a member of the JUI-F. It can be his personal opinion and not that of the party. I don’t know in what context he had made such remarks.”

He said the JUI-F was against use of force and weapons for spreading Islam but it called for taking steps in light of recommendations of the CII which is a constitutional body. “We are talking about legislation through parliament,” he added.

In reply to a question about activities of Maulana Abdul Aziz and Jamia Hafsa in Islamabad, he claimed that such issues were created under a plan to pave the way for action against Madaris and religious institutions.

He praised the government for trying to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

He accused the media of discriminating against his party in its coverage. “Media should consider us equal to other parties. Media does not give coverage to the JUI-F.”