LONDON: Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman arrived in the UK amid call by a former Pakistani minister to bar the entry of the cleric into Britain because of his alleged pro-Taliban views.
Ansar Burney, a minister of human rights under Pervez Musharraf, requested the UK government to bar Fazlur Rehman from entering the UK due to his ‘nefarious and extremist political background, and known links with the Pakistani Taliban’ and alleged that Maulana Fazl was ‘an ideological mentor to the Taliban’.
But a source in the High Commission of Pakistan, while confirming that Maulana Fazl, came to Britain on an official visit, regretted that a deliberate and planned attempt had been made to malign Fazlur Rehman, a democratically elected member of the National Assembly and the chairman of NA Standing Committee on Kashmir. He is scheduled to hold meetings with parliamentarians on the issue of Kashmir in the House of Lords and will also attend a reception arranged by the High Commission of Pakistan.
The source branded the move by Ansar Burney as ‘indulgence to malign democratically elected members’ and said the appeal to the British home secretary to exclude Maulana Fazl ‘is intriguing and regrettable’.
“His programme has been arranged by the High Commission. He is therefore entitled to the necessary protocol, which the High Commission will extend,” said the High Commission source. But Ansar Burney told The News that he would file a judicial review petition in the High Court of England, if Fazlur Rehman was given entry into the UK.
Burney said he was demanding the curtailment of any permission granted to Maulana Fazl to enter the UK in the greater interest of social harmony. Burney alleged that Maulana Fazlur Rehman had been stirring anti-west sentiments in Pakistan and promoting religious extremism in the remote parts of the country and feared that ‘the extremist leader will spread similar hatred and promote terrorism in the UK’.
Nazir Gilani, Secretary General of JKCHR and an expert on the UN register in Peace Keeping/Humanitarian Operations, said a demand made to UK government to bar Maulana Fazl from entering the UK did not sit well with the constituency of the broad spread of the regime of human rights, in particular, the right of a person to travel and express his opinions.
Gilani said there was an urgent and unavoidable need to encourage an interaction between various schools of opinion and more so between leaders of various faiths, to narrow down the misunderstanding and identify the areas of commonality in the best interests of a multi-religious and multi-cultural society like Britain.
Nazir Gilani said the UK government needed not to sit in judgement on Maulana Fazlur Rehman on a complaint ‘unfortunately filed by a leading human rights defender, unless there is evidence that he has remained involved in the abuse of human rights’. “The decision to accredit the visitor should be left to the members of the community.”