The Millat brand launched an ‘independent’ think tank Millat Thinkers’ Forum on Friday, four years after it had launched Millatfacebook to provide an alternative to social networking service Facebook.
Millatfacebook was launched in 2010 after Lahore High Court had ordered closure of Facebook in Pakistan on account of alleged blasphemy.
Its sponsors call Millatfacebook “the sole rival of” Facebook.
Although Millatfacebook has not attracted a comparable number of users, its administration has received endorsement from some religious leaders who called the use of Facebook “un-Islamic”.
A number of lawyers and several Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leaders attended the launch of Millat Thinkers’ Forum on Friday.
The participants were handed a document carrying an introduction of the forum. The document highlights the importance of funding think-tanks and exempting them from tax.
It said think tanks were classified on the basis of their ideological perspective, sources of funding and prospective beneficiaries. Apart from governments the corporate sector funds think thanks in developed countries, it said.
It said most think tanks in Pakistan were limited by their patrons’ interests. Advocate Mian Khalid Habib Elahi, Advocate Zaheer Ahmad Meer, Omar Meer and Wajihur Rehman are some of the sponsors of the new forum.
In his presentation on ISIS: Implications for Pakistan and the Way Forward, Omar Meer said the US and Israel had formed the ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria).
He said ISIS head Abu Bakar Al Baghdadi alias Dr Ibrahim had been captured by American security agencies and released later to set up the “anti-Islam” organisation. “If the organisation comes to Pakistan, there would be serious implications for the country.”
Meer said Millat Thinkers’ Forum would meet every month, identify problems facing Muslims and give its recommendations. He said minutes of the meetings would be uploaded on Millatfacebook.
Millat Thinkers’ Forum patron-in-chief Zaheer Ahmed Meer regretted that research was not given due importance in Pakistan.
“Through this think tank, we are trying to highlight several issues, including un-Islamic banking and respect for women.”
Co-patron Khalid Habib said the formation of Millat Thinkers’ Forum was timely.
PTI leader Asad Umar said there was room for improvement in every sphere of life. He said if the Millat Thinkers’ Forum could change people’s way of thinking, it would be a great success.
Advocate Ahmed Awais said discussions behind closed doors were not enough. “For so long, we have failed to identify our enemy. The forum should play its role in this regard,” he said.
Mehnaz Rafi said opportunists in important places had had landed the country in all sorts of problems for their personal gains. “We need the Pakistan the Quaid-i-Azam aspired.”
PTI leader Hamid Khan said one reason for lack of research in Pakistan was people’s lack of interest in reading. He said another problem was that policies were being run on an adhoc basis. He said no political party had a permanent think thank to debate major issues facing the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2014.