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February 21, 2015

A key counter-terror initiative fails to pick up


February 21, 2015

The federal government's initiative for regularising religious institutions (especially the registration of madaris) is wobbling right from the start as its religious affairs ministry could not do the required homework, while two major religious platforms - Wifaqul Madaris and Tanzeemul Madaris – involved for accomplishing the task are facing internal issues, The News has learnt.
The Ministry for Religious Affairs' committee, constituted to look into the issue of thousands of unregistered madaris for keeping a check on terrorism-related activities and hate-based syllabus, is being headed by Federal Secretary of Ministry for Religious Affairs Suhail Amir.
Two scheduled meetings of the committee had already been postponed, the last being on February 12. The first meeting had to be postponed because of the chairman's tour of Saudi Arabia, while the second couldn't be held because of the absence of Wifaqul Madaris' representative, Secretary General Qari Hanif Jallandhari.
While talking to The News, the religious affairs secretary said the postponement on both occasions was unintentional as he had to leave urgently prior to the first meeting, while the representative of Wifaqul Madaris sought excuse in the backdrop of time constraint since the intimation didn't leave him with much room to reschedule his existing commitments.
He said as an important member of the committee declined to attend the meeting, he had to call it off. However, he went on to say that he directed his associates to keep working on the agenda, besides informing the rest of the members that the meeting had been postponed till February 18.
When asked about the possibility of deliberate attempt on behalf of Wifaqul Madaris secretary general to stay away from the meeting, and, of course, about the in-house trouble in Wifaqul Madaris' meetings early last week, the secretary said he was not aware of any such development.
Also responding to a query regarding the controversial

nature of the representatives of Wifaqul Madaris (Jallandhari) and Tanzeemul Madaris (Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rahman), Suhail said he had no clue about that.
When asked about the composition of representatives from these bodies, that is, why just one representative had been engaged from each platform when more heads could have contributed in the resolution of the problem, he said it was decided from the beginning; yet one or two extra members often accompanied the invited member.
Under the banner of Ittehad-e-Tanzeemat-e-Madaris Pakistan, the federal committee had invited Wifaqul Madaris Pakistan, Tanzeemul Madaris Pakistan, Wifaqul Ulema-e-Shia Pakistan, Wifaqul Ulema-e-Salfia Pakistan and Ittehadul Ulema-e-Pakistan for fulfilling the government's responsibility envisaged under the 21st Amendment although it had a loose role to play under the law. All it needs to do is to carry out the registration of madaris, a task it already had at hand under The Societies Registration Act, 1860. Benazir Bhutto (late) tried to harness the situation through an ordinance in 1994, which was later reverted.
In 2002, President Musharraf attempted to manage a control after 9/11; however, the process is yet to be completed. This is the first time the government has been forced to take a strong action with military courts put in place to manage militancy.
The Wifaqul Madaris, the biggest platform, runs around 13,000 institutions all over Pakistan. The Tanzeemul Madaris monitors around six to eight thousand madaris, while Wifaqul Ulema-e-Shia Pakistan and Wifaqul Ulema-e-Salfia Pakistan oversee somewhere around 2,500 madaris each. Moreover, the Jamaat-e-Islami runs around 1,000 such institutions under the banner of Ittehadul Ulema-e-Pakistan. All the figures mentioned certainly can't be counterchecked with the registration process yet to be completed and are rough estimates.
The committee did not bother to invite representatives of Wifaqul Masajid being overseen by Pakistan Ulema Council. Neither did it invite any member of Tahafuz-e-Madrassa Deenia Pakistan. The Wifaqul Madaris Pakistan administers 74,300 mosques across the country, and the significance of its representation could be gauged from the fact how important is the impact these mosques have on our society. It didn't even engage the government's Madrassa Education Board.
Interestingly, it appears, the government too is not all that keen to resolve the issue of registration, which is aimed at homing on the troublemaking institutions.
The Wifaqul Madaris Pakistan held the meetings of Majlis-e-Amla and Majlis-e-Shura last week, where, apart from the legitimacy of the incumbent body to take interim decisions of vital nature was challenged, the members also voiced serious concerns over the internal audit issue of the institution.
Mufti Muhiuddin, the member of Majlis-e-Shura and a respected religious scholar, made no bones in saying Jallandhari `ran a mafia' in Wifaqul Madaris. He said Jallandhari's tenure was over under the constitution of the institution and he had no right to call the shots.
It was learnt similar accusations were hurled by the heads of madaris being run by the Wifaqul Madaris. A good number of them believed Jallandhari had been running a one-man show, bypassing all existing codes, ethics and norms.
Mohiuddin alleged that Jallandhari didn't want the ongoing registration process to succeed. “He is giving frivolous excuses for sabotaging the government's bid to register the religious seminaries. We have completely cooperated with the Sindh government and I haven't found anything objectionable in the forms distributed for the purpose or any grey area in the process,” said Mohiuddin.
Mohiuddin has strong objection to the contents of the constitutional amendment (21st) and believes the term ‘terrorist' should be used in broader perspective; however, he thinks the process of registration is vital. Interestingly, the government's committee hasn't bothered to give importance to such people.
Since huge money is involved - earned through the regulatory process of seminaries functioning under the ambit of Wifaqul Madaris (which includes conduct of exams etc) besides direct and indirect foreign funding and those through local philanthropists - the office of the secretary general assumes enormous importance, especially in the absence of Maulana Samiullah Khan, the president of Wifaqul Madaris. It was for this reason Mohiuddin stressed the need for holding internal audit.
When contacted, Jallandhari refuted all allegations except for delay in holding fresh elections. “If Mufti Mohiuddin has any problem, he can approach the related body for getting his queries addressed.”
He further said Mohiuddin's son, a member of shura, attended the meeting and didn't utter a word on the subject.
Talking about the internal audit, Jallandhari said the same was done every year, and there was no anomaly in it. “Whosoever wants to check could come and see these audit reports,” he added.
He also clearly rebutted the allegation of having any problem with the ongoing process of madaris registration.
Since Wifaqul Madaris specifically serves a particular school of thought, its harmonious presence and exchange of ideas in the committee is imperative. Even more vital is the factor of representation. A moderate could come up with better solutions. Mohiuddin also spoke on this issue, saying, at least, five members should be invited by the government for making the committee more effective.
It is important to note the sitting deputy secretary of Wifaqul Madaris, Qazi Abdur Rasheed, was among other ulema issuing a fatwa on April 24, 2004 against the martyrs of Pakistan Army, who lost their lives in Fata while fighting the Taliban. He is the ‘mohtamum’ (administrator) of Jamia Darul Aloom, Rawalpindi. Rasheed was not available for his response for he was on a foreign tour.
Apart from him, Dr Abdur Razzaq Sikandar and Abdul Qayyum Haqqani, members of Majlis-e-Shura of Wifaqul Madaris, also signed the document. Ironically, a very important federal minister recently held parleys with the same Rasheed for managing the ‘situation’.
In an identical case, the federal government's committee has included Mufti Muneebur Rahman instead of Maulana Raghib Naeemi whose family has sacrificed life while resisting this menace of terrorism overtly.
Naeemi and Muneeb are locked in a legal battle since the last elections of Tanzeemul Madaris Pakistan. Naeemi said a controversial amendment in the organisation’s constitution barred him from contesting the polls. That act of amending the constitution is pending in a lower court. Naeemi openly criticised Muneeb, saying it was another case of "mafia-mongering" in the clergy.
When Muneeb was contacted for his response, he said Naeemi was wrong on all counts. He said the organisation’s constitution was amended with the consent of Naeemi, while the elections were held in a transparent manner. “And, above all, the matter is in the court and we should wait for the decision.”
“I challenge him if he gets 40 per cent of against my 60 per cent. I would be happy to give him the office. It's no contest in any manner, whatsoever.”
As for the representation, he added, “I am quite vocal at all fora. I have disagreed with the government on many issues as I have the mettle and the understanding where or where not to put my foot down.”
Interestingly, when the armed forces are busy countering the menace and fulfilling the recently assigned constitutional obligations, the federal government is still toying with its political priorities with the rulers' personal religious affiliations hampering this all important supplementary task for countering terrorism.

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