ISLAMABAD: The Pakis­tan Ulema Council (PUC) will participate in next year’s general elections along with its allies, its central executive committee announced on Wednesday.

The decision came days after candidates backed by two religious parties with extremist leanings made their presence felt in the by-poll for NA-120 constituency in Lahore on Sunday.

“We will continue to struggle for elimination of terrorism, extremism and sectarian violence and for promoting interfaith harmony in the country,” said Hafiz Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi, who chaired the committee meeting.

The council would also push for electoral reforms ahead of the 2018 general elections, he said.

The participants of the meeting reposed confidence in the leadership of Mr Ashrafi as the council’s chairman and Maulana Abdul Hameed Watto as its general secretary.

Qazi Matiullah Saeedi was elected deputy secretary general of the PUC.

They constituted peace committees at district and tehsil levels to promote interfaith and inter-sect harmony during Muharram.

Mr Ashrafi proposed training workshops for students and teachers of the Wifaqul Madaris al-Arabia to help them move into the mainstream.

The PUC was created by the leaders of the Deobandi, Barelvi, Shia and Ahle Hadith schools of thought back in 1988 to promote sectarian harmony amid growing sectarian strife in the country.

The meeting also adopted a resolution asking the government to legislate for an effective accountability system in the country.

The resolution denounced the killings of Muslims in Myanmar. It urged the government to allow the immigration of 10,000 Rohingya Muslims, saying the PUC would bear their rehabilitation expenses.

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2017