Afghan security officials have expelled over 30 ‘Pakistani clerics’ from mosques in southern Kandahar province over ‘provocative speeches’ to encourage people for an ‘uprising against the government’, an Afghan official told The Express Tribune on Tuesday.
Hamdullah Nazak, governor of district Dand in Kandahar, said that Pakistani clerics had come from Balochistan and had no valid documents. “When the authorities asked them to provide documents and prove their identity, they failed,” Nazak said via phone from Kandahar.
He said Afghan authorities took action against the Pakistani ulema after they received information that they were encouraging people to stage a rebellion against the US-backed government in Kabul.
“We launched a campaign against Pakistani clerics and expelled all those who were leading prayers and delivering sermons without permission and without documents,” Nazak added.
The district governor also said most of the Pakistani clerics arrived in Kandahar from Balochistan’s Muslim Bagh area. Nazak added that authorities also passed on information to Afghan intelligence officials about some of the clerics.
He claimed that there are still several religious scholars in Afghanistan who have arrived from Pakistan without any documents, adding that action will also be taken against them.
“They are involved in the dissemination of negative speeches to mislead people, which is unacceptable,” Nazak said.
Afghan officials, tribal elders and members of the Senate Defence Committee met in Kandahar on Tuesday and discussed the security situation in the province and the governors expressed concern over the illegal presence of clerics from across the border in mosques, according to the local media.
Mamoon Durrani, an Afghan journalist who covered the meeting, told The Express Tribune via phone from Kandahar that the district governor also accused the chief of the government-backed clerics’ council of his failure to take action against Pakistani ulema for their anti-government speeches.
Nazak told the meeting that the Taliban are fighting against the government with the help of these Pakistani ulema, according to Durrani.
He said that the meeting was also told that the Afghan Taliban have asked locals to cultivate poppy in some districts in Kandahar to glean tax from them. Governor of Jarai District, Niaz Muhammad Sarhadi, claimed in the meeting that a member of the Quetta Shura, Jabbar Agha, led a Taliban delegation which travelled to several districts in Kandahar to encourage people to grow poppy.
The decision to expel Pakistani clerics comes in the wake of increasing tensions between Afghanistan and Pakistan, exacerbated by cross-border attacks. President Hamid Karzai harshly criticised Islamabad at a press conference in Kabul earlier. Pakistan angrily reacted to the Afghan president’s remarks, and termed them ‘misplaced and without any basis’.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 10th, 2012.
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