The Sunni Ittehad Council, an alliance of Barelvi parties, has demanded a ban on all parties with militant or ‘jihadi’ wings.
SIC Chairman Sahibzada Fazle Karim said that organisations declared terrorist groups by the government had simply changed their names and were still operating in Pakistan. He demanded that the government clamp down on these groups. He refused to name any groups, saying “everyone knows them”.
Karim was addressing reporters after an ‘All Parties Conference’ of the 35 groups that make up the SIC. The parties passed a unanimous resolution listing demands ranging for changes in foreign policy to a pardon for Mumtaz Qadri, the convicted assassin of Governor Salmaan Taseer.
Karim said that the perpetrators of attacks on shrines must be captured and all terrorists should be tried in open court. He demanded that more of the syllabus for schools be devoted to the role of religious leaders.
The resolution called on President Asif Zardari to pardon Qadri. The parties declared that they would celebrate January 4, the day Qadri gunned down the governor for his opposition to the blasphemy laws, as Mumtaz Qadri Day.
The resolution also declared Ahmedis to be “enemies of Islam and Pakistan” and called for a ban on the preaching of Ahmedi beliefs which is already against the law and the removal of Ahmedis from key government posts.
Karim said that the SIC demanded a permanent stoppage of Nato supply lines to Afghanistan that pass through Pakistani territory. He applauded the removal of US forces from Shamsi Airbase and sought the same at Jacobabad and Pasni airbases, though the government denies any American forces are present there.
“The government should make public all secret contracts with the US,” he said, adding that it should “start a worldwide campaign against Nato and drone attacks”. He said the drone attacks were a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.
Karim said the Barelvi parties did not oppose relations with India, but “these should be on an equal basis”. He said Pakistan had compromised on the Kashmir issue by granting Most-Favoured Nation trade status to India and the SIC would resist this move. He said evidence of Indian involvement in creating unrest in Balochistan should be made public.
He said that Muslim countries should unite to form an Islamic United Nations and an Islamic Defence Force like Nato.
The resolution of the Barelvi parties also called for action to curb inflation, unemployment and the gas shortage, as well as the construction of Kalabagh Dam to overcome the energy crisis. It called for the formation of an impartial commission to look into the assets of all politicians ahead of the elections.
Karim demanded more austerity by government officials, calling for an end to “unnecessary protocol” and a halving of the budgets for the Presidency, PM House, CM houses, and governors houses. He said cases of treason should be registered against those responsible after an inquiry into the ‘Memogate’ scandal.
He demanded the release of Sahibzada Hamid Saeed Kazmi, the former Hajj minister who is under arrest for corruption in Hajj arrangements.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 15th, 2011.