A mosque jumps on #ThankYouRaheelSharif bandwagon

Published October 6, 2015
The site of Raheel Sharif mosque near Ghori Town. — Photo by Ishaque Chaudhry
The site of Raheel Sharif mosque near Ghori Town. — Photo by Ishaque Chaudhry

ISLAMABAD: A group of people opposed to the strongman of the Khokhar clan has named a mosque in their area after Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Raheel Sharif.

The local people belonging to the Khokhar clan but opposed to Imtiaz Ali alias Taji Khokhar have earmarked a piece of their ancestral land adjoining the Ghori Town Phase III to build ‘Jamia Masjid Gen Raheel Sharif, Madrassa Jamia Darul Amn.’

“We have decided to name it after the army chief because he is a national hero and working against corruption, land mafias and rogue elements across the country,” said Safdar Khokhar, who is also the chairman of Tehreek-i-Nijat Qabza Mafia in the area.

“We hope that the army chief would be able to do in Islamabad what he has already done in Karachi,” Safdar added.

Group opposed to Taji Khokhar allocates land for construction of ‘Jamia Masjid Gen Raheel Sharif’

A piece of two kanal belonging to Safdar and his three brothers has been allocated for the mosque which will be built by the family. But the family said the whole locality would be contributing to build the mosque and the seminary.

Safdar’s family has been opposed to Taji Khokhar because their land was allegedly occupied by his (Taji Khokhar’s) men to develop the Ghori Town.

“They occupied our land, which is in Ghori Town Phase III, then blocked the way leading to our land and forced us to make a compromise,” said Shabbir Khokhar, the elder brother of Safdar.

Though the rift between the two families has been brewing for some time, Safdar came to prominence after law enforcement agencies raided the dera (residence) of Taji Khokhar on September 18.

On October 1, Safdar got a report registered with the Koral police, accusing Taji Khokhar of plotting to kill him, grabbing land and threatening his family members.

Meanwhile, an official of the Koral police station told Dawn that there was no criminal or any other negative record against Safdar.

“No one has ever lodged a complaint against Mohammad Safdar Khokhar of Gangal where the Ghori Town has been established,” said the official.

On the other hand, a spokesman for the family of Haji Nawaz Khokhar, including his younger brother Taji Khokhar, mocked the move by Safdar Khokhar.

“They have been here all the time; why it came to their mind to establish a mosque now,” said Mohammad Yaseen, speaking on behalf of Taji Khokhar. “They are trying to use the name of the army for exerting influence in the area.”

However, he added that it was not appropriate to use the mosque for political or business gains as it was a sacred place.

Incidentally, it is the first mosque at least in the area to be named after a sitting or retired army general.

However, a mosque was built on a greenbelt of Islamabad Highway near Shakrial by the capital administration and named as ‘Zia Masjid’ after the then military dictator offered prayers there in the early 1980s.

Published in Dawn, October 6th, 2015

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