People arriving at the venue of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam’s conference in Azakhel, Nowshera, on Thursday. — Photo by Abdul Majeed Goraya
People arriving at the venue of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam’s conference in Azakhel, Nowshera, on Thursday. — Photo by Abdul Majeed Goraya

PESHAWAR/NOWSHERA: Imam-i-Kaaba Sheikh Saleh Bin Mohammad Bin Ibrahim arrived here on Thursday to attend the centenary celebrations of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) starting in Azakhel area of Nowshera today (Friday).

A statement issued by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor’s House said the Imam-i-Kaaba was accompanied by Saudi religious affairs minister Sheikh Saleh bin Abdul Aziz Al-Sheikh.

It said JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, KP Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, federal minister for religious affairs Sardar Mohammad Yousaf and federal minister Akram Khan Durrani received the Saudi dignitaries at the Bacha Khan International Airport.

It said the KP governor would host a luncheon for the dignitaries on Friday.

The JUI sources said the delegations of around 30 countries reached Peshawar including Saudi minister for religious affair and Imam-i-Kaaba.

They said the delegations from India and Bangladesh had already reached the congregation venue and that the Imam-i-Kaaba would address the gathering on the first day of the event.

The sources said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was expected to attend the first day of the event, while co-chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party Asif Ali Zardari had also confirmed his participation.

Both government officials and JUI-F leaders showed satisfaction with the security arrangement for the event.

Addressing a news conference, JUI-F provincial information secretary Maulana Jalil Jan said delegations of 52 countries would participate in the moot.

He said a ‘complete hospital’ had been set up to provide basic health services to participants in emergency, while different food stalls had been put up to serve more than 50,000 people at a time.

The JUI-F leader said the party had formed 25,000-strong volunteer security force, while 6,000 people would perform security duty in plainclothes.

Meanwhile, Nowshera district administration has finalised a security plan for the event.

Deputy commissioner Sikandar Zeeshan and district police officer Wahid Mehmood told reporters in Nowshera that the administration had deployed 2,300 policemen, including elite force, FRP and RRF special commandoes, and bomb disposal squad, K9 and special branch personnel, in the city for the event.

They said traffic wardens and National Highway and Motorways Police personnel had been deployed to ensure smooth movement of traffic and event participants.

The two later met JUI-F leaders and discussed different matter related to the conference.

They appealed to the people to use M1 of Rashakai interchange for smooth traffic movement.

In the day, massive traffic was seen in Nowshera.

The JUI-F didn’t invite JUI-S chief Maulana Samiul Haq to the conference held in his district.

Published in Dawn, April 7th, 2017