ISLAMABAD: Community and clergy-run mosques in the federal capital outnumber government-managed mosques by almost ten to one, according to a government report.

Prepared by the interior ministry, apparently in the context of the National Action Plan (NAP), the report found that the government has absolutely no influence over 868 of the total 957 mosques in the federal capital territory to discipline them.

It says that the government spends Rs49.33 million annually on paying salaries to the staff of the 89 mosques it manages and another Rs10.97 million for paying their utility bills and maintenance.

It does not offer the same information about the community-run mosques.

Dawn, however, learnt from officials at the interior ministry and the Capital Development Authority (CDA) that the budgets of the privately-funded mosques must be huge in comparison as they enjoy much bigger congregations. An average government-run mosque has capacity for1500 worshiper at the most, excluding, of course, the big Faisal Mosque and the Lal Masjid.

“These [privately-run] mosques saw a mushroom growth under state patronage in the 1980s during the regime of Gen Ziaul Haq and the trend continued till recently,” said a senior CDA official.

Indeed, none of the subsequent governments stopped the unauthorized construction of mosques on state land, even on the greenbelts of Islamabad.

Expansion of the so-called “illegal mosques” continued even after the bloody military operation in Lal Masjid in 2007 under another military dictator, Gen Pervez Musharraf.

But the massacre of schoolchildren at Army Public School in Peshawar a year ago forced the government to launch the NAP to fight extremism and terrorism in the country.

“Although, it’s heavy on the government’s purse to bring all mosques under its discipline, they cannot be left to operate on their own, without any control,” an interior ministry official said.

“In order to implement the NAP, the government is bound to closely monitor prayer leaders of the mosques,” he said in response to a query from Dawn.

In its report, the ministry points out that the government has to deploy 722 policemen at as many mosques and imambargahs in Islamabad to monitor hateful speeches from the pulpit.

They have to report any hate content in the sermons delivered by the Ulemas and Khateebs for starting possible legal action.

Meanwhile, religious scholars of various sects have been advised to renounce such practices and adhere to their agreed Code of Conduct against spreading sectarian hatred through spoken or written words.

Imams of all mosques and imambargahs have already signed the undertaking and a weekly official report will vouch for that. Police special branch and CID operatives would be particularly watchful about that at Friday congregations.

Except for Azan (call for prayers) and Friday sermons, the use of loudspeaker is banned for the worship places in Islamabad capital territory.

Misuse of the amplifiers

Strict monitoring and cooperation of the clergy has controlled the misuse of the sound amplifiers. Only two cases have been registered against prayer leaders so far this year for violating the ban.

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2015

Opinion

Editorial

IMF’s unease
24 May, 2024

IMF’s unease

THE first round of ‘engagement’ between Pakistan and the IMF over the former’s request for a larger and longer...
Belated recognition
24 May, 2024

Belated recognition

WITH Wednesday’s announcement by three European states that they intend to recognise Palestine as a state later...
App for GBV survivors
24 May, 2024

App for GBV survivors

GENDER-based violence is caught between two worlds: one sees it as a crime, the other as ‘convention’. The ...
Energy inflation
Updated 23 May, 2024

Energy inflation

The widening gap between the haves and have-nots is already tearing apart Pakistan’s social fabric.
Culture of violence
23 May, 2024

Culture of violence

WHILE political differences are part of the democratic process, there can be no justification for such disagreements...
Flooding threats
23 May, 2024

Flooding threats

WITH temperatures in GB and KP forecasted to be four to six degrees higher than normal this week, the threat of...