The conversion to Islam of a Hindu boy working with the Ansar Burney Trust has split the Burney brothers with one defending it and the other calling it a ‘drama’.
On Wednesday, chat show host Maya Khan opened the doors to another controversy by televising live Sunil’s conversion in the prime-time Ramazan slot.
Sunil works at the Ansar Burney Trust, a human rights organisation whose chairman, Ansar, was recently in the headlines for the case of the Pakistani sailors taken hostage by Somali pirates.
Ansar skewered the conversion, called it a ‘drama’, and announced that he would sue Maya Khan. He publicly lashed out at his younger brother Sarim on Twitter, saying that he had dismissed Sarim three months ago from the trust on corruption charges.
“If we [want] to save our country, we shall have to fight against corruption, and I started it from my own office at Karachi,” said Ansar tweeting about his brother Sarim. Talking to the Indian media, Ansar said that “[Sunil] was offered incentives, and though keen, he had no idea as to what was happening.”
Sarim was the vice chairman at the Ansar Burney Trust, which was started in 1980 as the Prisoners Aid Society. He dismissed the corruption allegations, saying that Ansar had always handled the funds and the accounts. “Ansar should know about corruption as he was directly involved with the monetary affairs of the organisation,” Sarim told The Express Tribune. He maintained that he had separated their work for the past three months and formed his own trust, Sarim Burney Welfare Trust. “This did not please Ansar as he always wants to be in the limelight,” alleged Sarim.
Sarim maintained that Ansar had settled in London 22 years ago and he had been running the organisation and “keeping his name alive”. Today Sarim has removed the signboards with Ansar’s name, and replaced it with his own at their office in Arambagh.
Sarim backed the conversion. “I have seen the boy fast when he had not embraced Islam. He did it of his own free will. Being miles away, how can Ansar say that it was forced?” Sarim also claimed that Sunil worked for the Sarim Burney Welfare Trust and not the Ansar Burney Welfare Trust.
Ansar has served as the federal human rights minister, and the UN’s expert adviser on human rights. He is currently in London and could not be immediately reached for comment.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2012.