Ulema have “already rejected” the extremist narrative “several years ago”, besides denouncing the use of force for enforcing Islamic practices, said chief of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Wednesday.
Questioning the prime minister’s motives, he urged him (the prime minister) to explain his statements in which he had called upon Ulema to formulate a counter narrative to denounce extremism in the country.
The other day, PM Nawaz Sharif had asked clerics to denounce all edicts that led to violence, countering the extremist narrative and presenting the peaceful narrative of Islam.
He was addressing a gathering held here to welcome a provincial lawmaker and leader of the Awami National Party (ANP) Latifur Rehman in JUI-F fold along with his family.
The ANP leader was accompanied by former senator Ghulam Ali, while provincial and federal leadership of the JUI-F and party workers were in attendance.
Citing the example of Sindh’s legislative bill on forced conversion of religion of minors, Maulana said they had presented a similar bill years ago in the assembly according to which no one could be forced to convert.
On the subject of the PM’s statement of counter narrative against extremism, Maulana said that he did not know what sort of a counter-narrative the PM wanted as Ulema already presented counter narrative and rejected any sort of extremism.
“We [Ulema] have a clear stance and counter narrative related to extremism … Beliefs cannot be changed by use of force and violent activities,” said the Maulana.
He said some westerners in the country wanted to spread and encourage western culture here but it amounts to rejection of their agenda that people are joining JUI-F in the province on a regular basis.
“JUI-F is the only hope of K-P’s people to resolve their problems and implement Islamic values,” Fazl claimed.
Talking about tensions on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, he urged leaderships of both the countries to intensify efforts for resolving issues on the border on humanitarian grounds as people were stranded on both sides of the border.
“Peace and stability is in the larger interest of the people on both sides of the border … This can be achieved (only) by permanently solving the border management between neighboring countries,” he concluded.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 16th, 2017.