AZAKHEL (Nowshera): Saudi Religious Affairs Minister Sheikh Saleh bin Abdul Aziz has said that Pakistan-Saudi Arabia military alliance is a “victory of Islam” and its main objective is “renaissance of Islam”.
Addressing a well-attended public meeting on the first day of centenary celebrations of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (F) here on Friday, he said that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia would jointly take on the enemies of Islam and Harmain Sharifain (the holy places in Saudi Arabia).
Imam-i-Kaaba Shaikh Saleh bin Muhammad Ibrahim led Friday prayers after the speech of the Saudi minister.
JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, diplomats and political leaders were present on the occasion. Organisers expect that three to four million people would attend the three-day events in Azakhel.
Former army chief retired Gen Raheel Sharif has been recently nominated commander of the Saudi-led 39-nation military alliance. Pakistan is member of the alliance.
The Saudi minister termed the military alliance a formidable force to counter terrorism and warned that there was no room for violence and terrorism. “Pakistan-Saudi alliance will pull out eyes of the enemy,” he said.
An emotionally charged crowd, responding to the speech of the minister, raised slogans pledging that they were ready to sacrifice their lives to defend the holy sites.
Imam-i-Kaaba leads Friday prayers on first day of JUI’s centenary celebrations
The minister said that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were like “one heart and two souls” which were cooperating with each other in the fields of science, technology, defence, economy, education and culture.
The presence of a high-level delegation of Saudi Arabia dominated the first day of the centenary proceedings. The Friday congregation, led by the Imam of the Grand Mosque, attracted thousands of faithful from different parts of the country, particularly Peshawar Valley.
“I came here from Lakki Marwat just because of the Imam-i-Kaaba. I am not interested in the JUI-F,” said Najeeb Ullah.
“How is it possible to stay at home when the Imam-i-Kaaba is leading prayers in Azakhel?” said Qari Shah Hussain, a blind cleric from Peshawar.
The Imam-i-Kaaba said in his sermon that Islam is a religion of peace and the path to correction lies only in the Holy Quran and the ways of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him).
“Allah has made the Muslim the best nation,” he said and urged people to hold fast to God and refrain from divisiveness. He prayed for the Muslims suffering in Syria and Palestine.
Maulana Fazlur Rehman, in his welcome address, denounced terrorism in the region and said that the JUI-F would never tolerate violence and militancy. “We reiterate today that the JUI denounces violence in any shape and in any place,” he said, adding that time had come to highlight Islamic teachings and values.
He warned against “victimisation of people associated with religion and sects” on the pretext of operation against terrorists. He said that security of Saudi Arabia was paramount and stressed the need for eliminating the menace of sectarianism. He expressed concern over a “growing inclination towards terrorism and extremism” among people.
Heavy rush and mismanagement marred the events on the first day of the centenary celebrations. Thousands of people could not offer the prayers due to the rush and the traffic jam on Grand Trunk Road.
Accommodation and other basic facilities for the participants from Balochistan, Sindh, Punjab and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas were inadequate. The ground has been covered with canopies. A large number of canopies crumbled due to late-night heavy downpour and speedy winds.
Horse-mounted guards of the Ansar-ul-Islam, security wing of the JUI-F, resorted to light baton charge to disperse the crowd.
According to the organisers, around 25,000 volunteers of Ansar-ul-Islam have been deployed in and around the venue besides police force.
Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2017