ISLAMABAD: Religious scholars belonging to the Deobandi school of thought have accused the government of not issuing visas to 5,000 preachers from over 100 countries, willing to participate in the annual religious meeting of Tableeghi Jamat, scheduled to take place in Raiwind this year.
“Last year, half of the participants were not given visas for this purpose. However, this time 5,000 people belonging to Tableeghi Jamaat have been denied visas by Ministry of Interior’s secretary. The secretary was of the view that there is no need of preaching by international preachers so they should not be issued visas,” Mufti Muhammed Naeem, founder of Jamia Binoria, alleged.
He told The Express Tribune that he did not believe that the government had taken the decision under any political pressure.
“Pakistani bureaucracy is more powerful than any other segment of society,” he said, adding that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was not playing its role in the context.
“Even governments of India and Bangladesh are not denying visas to foreigners for the Tableeghi Jamaat gatherings and the Indian government is facilitating the foreigners with visas at the airports while Pakistan is imposing restrictions in issuance of visas to the preachers of Islam,” he commented.
He stressed that people from all around the world come to Pakistan to participate in the religious gathering at their own expenses.
“When they return to their respective countries, they act as representatives or ambassadors of Pakistan,” he added.
According to Mufti Naeem, the authorities concerned were assured that the hosts would keep passports of the foreigners in their possession on their arrival and would submit copies to the interior ministry.
He said the offer was made so that local authorities could be assured that these people would not slip away into Pakistan. The proposal, however, was turned down by the authorities.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 9th, 2017.