The parliamentary committee on national security summoned Interior Minister Rehman Malik in the wake of widespread condemnation by religious and political leaders, terming one of his statements ‘loose talk’.
Malik told the participants of a seminar in London on Thursday that all terrorists that Pakistani security agencies arrested had links with the Tableeghi Jamaat centre in Raiwind and they all belonged to religious seminaries.
The parliamentary committee told him to explain his words next week.
The panel, which met on Friday under Senator Raza Rabbani, expressed anger and shock over the statement, and said it associated a “peaceful group with terrorism”.
Separately, top political leaders also criticised Malik for his statement, vowing to defend a respected centre focused on “serving and spreading Islam” against any conspiracy.
The Tableeghi Jamaat has refused to respond to the statement.
A statement by an organisation which represents over 12,000 Deobandi seminaries also condemned Malik for his “irresponsible, unwise and baseless” assertion, saying
the minister should not blame a peaceful organisation to cover up his and agencies’ failures.
The Wafaqul Madaris al Arabia (WMA) said the Tableeghi headquarters, popularly known as the Raiwind Centre, was the “most respectable and undisputed” place in Pakistan, and warned Malik against generating an “unnecessary controversy”.
Top Deobandi leaders, including Maulana Salimullah Khan and Qari Hanif Jallundhri, urged the president and the prime minister to take notice of the statement.
In Islamabad, chief of his own faction of the Jamiat Ulama-e-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rahman also condemned the statement, saying it demonstrated the government’s intention to shut down religious seminaries and organisations.
But, Fazl said that he and his party would foil all such controversies. Pakistan Muslim League-Q Chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain also criticised Malik for an ‘irresponsible’ statement, saying if the government takes any action against the Tableeghi Jamaat, every Muslim would rise up in its defence.
In a statement, Shujaat said by calling religious preachers terrorists, Malik had demonstrated his ignorance about people who had devoted their lives serving Islam.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 30th, 2011.