Political party leaders and religious scholars called for unity and a unanimous narrative to counter terrorism in Pakistan at a ceremony announcing the 'Paigham-i-Pakistan' fatwa in Islamabad on Tuesday.
President Mamnoon Hussain, while speaking at the ceremony, expressed confidence that the unanimous fatwa issued by religious scholars belonging to various schools of thought would help address the challenges posed by terrorism, extremism and sectarianism, Radio Pakistan reported.
Issuing a fatwa drafted by means of a consultative process is a step in the right direction, the president said, adding that it would portray a "soft and positive image of Pakistan" and highlight Islam as a religion of peace, brotherhood, tolerance and accommodation.
Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, while addressing participants of the ceremony, underlined the urgent need for Muslim nations to progress and have something positive to show over the next 400 years, and touted the fatwa as a means to obtain national unity.
"If we want to correct our direction for the future, it is necessary that society is peaceful and stable because without them we cannot embark on this journey. We must introspect and look within instead of hypothesising about conspiracies. We need to be ready and accountable in order to undertake this journey," he said.
"Pakistan was not created so it could be just one more addition to a list of the world's poorest countries. It is necessary to show the world that even in this modern day and age, the Muslims of South Asia have the ability to form a successful nation on the basis of Islamic principles," he stressed.
"It is a matter of concern that after 70 years, the dream for Pakistan, the dignity and justice we had to provide the nation, were not realised. All of this is only possible when the ethos of a nation or group of people is apparent to them," he said.
"When the nation ceases to believe in self-reliance and its narrative pertaining to itself is scattered, then it becomes a group of people who have differences with each other. When differences are prevalent, then the outcome is that which we are seeing today," he said.
"The fatwa will provide a platform for national unity... So that in the 21st century, we can make Pakistan a distinguished country, an Asian tiger, and bring the Quaid's dream to fruition," he claimed.
"We have been fighting regional conflict, and the events we face today are not completely of our doing. To a great extent, the world powers who fought the Soviet Union are responsible," Iqbal said.
"But when the Soviet lost in Afghanistan, the world powers dusted off their hands and disappeared, leaving behind piles of weapons and the poorest segments of those societies," he said.
Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif at the ceremony urged the nation to own the narrative the fatwa is based on, and to back all national institutions that are working against terrorism.
"With this narrative, we make it clear to the entire world that all national institutions are united against terrorism," Asif said.
"We have rejected all forms of terrorism and extremism," he asserted.
"The land of Pakistan at no time shall be allowed to be used for the propagation of any kind of terrorism," he said, adding that this included training and recruitment of terrorists, along with execution of terror activities in other countries "and other such ulterior motives".
The outcomes of this narrative will be evident to the nation soon, Asif vowed.
Speaking to APP on the eve of the unveiling of the Paigham-i-Pakistan, religious scholars had urged collective efforts by state institutions, within the ambit of the Constitution, to cleanse society of the menaces of extremism and terrorism.
Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman had said that "all religious parties and scholars are with the state and Constitution for the welfare of people.
Religious scholar Maulana Rafi Usmani described the unveiling of the narrative as 'historic'. He said that scholars from all sects had deliberated over each word in the document for months before preparing a decree.
"We hope that the Paigham-i-Pakistan will help improve the present situation in the country and set a future course to lead the nation to a destination of peace and prosperity," he added.