Getting to know the cleric after the Qadeel Baloch murder mystery takes many twists and turns
Controversy has followed Mufti Abdul Qavi throughout his career. Even before the infamy he achieved in the Qandeel Baloch murder case for which he was recently arrested, he was known for his misdeeds in politics, religion and women-related affairs.
Qavi’s track record did not bode well: He flirted with transgender Almas Bobby in a television programme in 2015, and a female reporter accused him of sexual harassment earlier this year. A tv programme featuring him alongside actress Veena got much publicity too. He also claims he influenced Veena’s Islamic ‘reformation’.
Qandeel’s parents, who live in a small mud house in Basti Marrha in South Punjab, claimed that Qavi incited their sons -- Arif and Waseem Baloch -- to kill Qandeel. "Yes, Qavi brainwashed them," Qandeel’s 81-year-old father Azeem Khan tells The News on Sunday. "We’ve been begging for food since our daughter was killed. Our children left us on the mercy of God".
In the latest turn of events, Qavi was arrested by the police on the highway between Multan and Jhang on the orders of District and Sessions Judge Chaudhry Ameer Ahmad Khan. The polygraph or lie-detector test of Mufti Qavi has been completed by the Punjab Science Forensic Agency and the Multan police are investigating his case.
The lie-detection test went on for over five hours where Qavi faced tough questions, investigation officer ASI Asif Shehzad tells TNS. "The Agency will release its report next week. At this stage there seems involvement of the cleric in this murder case, directly or indirectly."
He adds that the two mobile sets seized by the police from Qavi have been sent to Lahore for forensic testing.
Multan police found "substantive evidences" to prove Qavi’s involvement in Qandeel’s murder, where, they claim, he incited Waseem Baloch to get rid of his sister in the name of honour.
Qandeel’s parents, Azeem Khan and Anwar Bibi, sought help of the chief justice of Pakistan to monitor this case.
Safdar Shah, counsel for Qandeel’s parents, claims, "Qavi had phoned Arif, [brother of Qandeel], to tell him to put his house in order -- by shutting her mouth against him, and that her murder was wajib [obligatory] on him [Arif]".
Shah adds that Qavi’s mobile records have led police to file a murder case against him.
"Two accused persons - Qadeel’s younger brother Arif and a relative Zafar -- fled to Saudi Arabia, while Abdul Basit, another close relative of Qavi, who once gave a ride to Waseem Baloch, got bail from the trial court," says Shah.
He further informs that Azeem Khan’s nephew, and another accused, Haq Nawaz, is in jail.
Her elder brother Muhammad Aslam was granted bail by the court after which he rejoined the Pakistan army.
But Qavi’s counsel, Sardar Mehboob Alam, categorically denies these charges. "He is absolutely innocent and had no intention to do anything wrong with Qandeel," he says. "He is being forcefully dragged into this case. Police have failed to find any evidence against him."
Abdul Wahid Nadeem, an uncle of Mufti Qavi, terms his trial a conspiracy, "to damage the reputation of a top scholar".
"Mufti sahib has written many books, has given verdicts on Islamic matters and has guided Muslims across the globe," he adds.
Qavi is the grandson of Abdul Qadoos, a cleric of Jamia Masjid Shah Sadar Din, and a descendent of the Pir Khasi Aly family. He migrated to Multan with his father, Maulvi Abdul Qadir, in the early 1970s, and settled in its Qadeerabad Mohalla. His family preaches both beliefs, Deobandi and Braveli. He is in Multan where more than 500 students learn Islamic teachings. His family belongs to a Qureshi clan, and has a vast following in the South of Punjab.
After completing his education at a local madrassa, he pursued further education at the Islamic University of al-Madinah al-Munawarah in Saudi Arabia and Madrassa Qasimul Uloom in Multan -- two famous Islamic institutions that have produced thousands of world-class religious scholars. He has also taken courses at the Al-Azhar University in Egypt.
Soon after he embarked on a career in politics, joining the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl) for a shorter period of time and then the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in 2015. In between, in 2013, he worked with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, and was appointed the party’s president of religious affairs in Punjab.
While with the PTI, he headed its religious section and developed personal relations with Imran Khan. But the PTI top leadership suspended his membership due to the controversy surrounding his selfie with Qandeel.
Mufti Qavi’s family is said to enjoy cordial relations with the family of Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani, former PPP prime minister, who recommended his name for the Ruet-e-Hilal Committee Pakistan as its key member some time back. But, again, his position in the committee was suspended due to the selfie episode.