ISLAMABAD: The Milli Yakjehti Council has criticised the Sindh government’s move to formulate Friday sermons for all mosques in the province, saying that “idealising Saudi Arabia over this issue was not correct”.

Addressing a press conference on Monday, Jamaat-i-Islami’s Prof Ibrahim Khan, head of the council’s ‘Khutbat-i-Juma commission’, said the government could not dictate the clerics over what to say or not to say in Friday sermons.

“This is not the right way,” he said. “The government should seek guidance from the ulema to implement Sharia in the country... .”

Prof Khan said that no government should dictate clerics.

The commission was formed by the council to promote sectarian harmony and members of several religious parties are its part.

Replying to a question about incidents in the federal capital where the authorities shut down mobile phone service to prevent a cleric from delivering a fiery Friday sermon, Prof Khan claimed that the step was taken on the basis of assumptions and over the conduct of one individual.

“Whatever is happening in Islamabad is a result of flawed government policies,” he said.

“This system of forcing their voice and opinions through us is not fair.”

He said this was a way to “manipulate their politics through the mosques. If a cleric doesn’t abide by it, then the government can use the law against him for not reciting the ‘certified’ khutba”.

Prof Khan, the council’s president Luqman Qazi, deputy secretary general Saqib Akbar and other leaders also criticised the Nizam-i-Salat introduced by the government.

They claimed that setting the same time for the azaan and prayers was not enough, adding that the scheme should include facilitation by the government for prayers.

“We say that even the president and the prime minister should attend all the prayers with the congregation in the mosques,” Prof Khan said.

Published in Dawn, February 9th, 2016