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Faisal Mosque official ‘target of incitement campaign’

Updated September 14, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Amid growing concerns regarding the radicalisation of students, especially in the aftermath of the tragic lynching of Mashal Khan, the issue of extremist activities on campuses has acquired renewed significance.

On Wednesday, another worrying incident came to light when a senior Faisal Mosque official alleged that he had been made the target of a concerted smear campaign that had declared him to be ‘Qadiani’ – a pejorative term for Ahmadis – on social media.

Speaking before the Senate Standing Committee on Interior, Mosque Deputy Director Mohammad Tahir accused a staff member of the International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) of engineering the campaign, which instigated some 30,000 students to cause him physical harm.

The committee, chaired by Senator Rehman Malik, directed Senior Superintendent of Police Sajid Kiani to take the matter seriously and ensure the security of the complainant.

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However, IIUI Rector Dr Masoom Yasinzai told Dawn he had taken up the issue with the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and sought an explanation was sought from the staffer in question, who had denied involvement in any campaign against Mr Tahir.

Talking to Dawn, Dr Masoom Yasinzai said the issue surfaced when the university learnt that CDA wanted to take control of the mosque.

Briefing the committee, Mr Tahir also claimed that on July 25, he had told a parliamentary committee that the IIUI still occupied offices inside the Faisal Mosque premises.

“Following my appearance, an IIUI staffer declared me to be ‘Qadiani’ and extolled the 30,000 students of the university to not tolerate it. Since then, I have been feeling insecure with students’ demeanour towards me. I can say oath on that I am a Muslim, but no one believes me,” he said.

Mr Tahir said he had complained to both police and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

Senator Malik said it was unfortunate that students were being instigated to take action against an individual who had been declared a ‘Qadiani’ for personal gains, and asked the FIA about progress in the case.

FIA Director Mazharul Haq Kakakhel claimed that although an investigation was initiated immediately upon receipt of the complaint, there was not much headway.

“Though a number of comments were posted against Mr Tahir on Facebook, the [accused] has denied his involvement. Since we cannot confirm ourselves who has posted the comments, we have contacted Facebook to get information about the person who posted those comments,” he said.

Dr Jehanzeb Jamaldini of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) said it had become a trend to accuse people of being ‘Qadiani’ to attain personal motives.

PML-N Senator Javed Abbasi recalled that a similar case was built against Mashal Khan of Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan, who was subsequently murdered.

Saying that social media could not be left uncontrolled, Senator Malik observed that people were criticising “our daughters”, including Maryam Nawaz Sharif, and called for a law to be made that would ensure that decency prevailed online.

Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal said if the committee could obtain public opinion on the issue, his ministry would play its role to enact the legislation.

Criminal envoys

The standing committee was also shocked to learn that even Pakistani ambassadors are involved with criminal elements.

During the meeting, Senator Javed Abbasi pointed out that Foreign Office officials were involved in crimes, alleging that a Burmese criminal facing imprisonment in Thailand had admitted to involvement with Foreign Office and National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) officials.

When asked about the case, FIA Director Kakakhel said that Ebrahim Koko Klaing, who was facing 30 years in prison over drug smuggling charges, was transferred to Pakistan under the “Agreement on Co-operation in the Transfer of Offenders and Enforcement of Penal Sentences” between Pakistan and Thailand.

“During the investigation, sufficient evidence has been placed on the record against officers of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted in Bangkok; Ambassador Sohail Khan and other officers are involved, as well as Nadra officials, who made the suspect a fake family tree to declare him a Pakistani,” he said.

Mr Kakakhel said that one of the officers who was in Bangkok and is nominated in case had been nominated as ambassador for South Africa, while the other was working in another very important country as ambassador.

Published in Dawn, September 14th, 2017