This picture, shared by the official Facebook page of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf candidate Asad Umar, shows Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil leaving the marquee where a meeting between the two leaders was held on Tuesday.
This picture, shared by the official Facebook page of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf candidate Asad Umar, shows Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil leaving the marquee where a meeting between the two leaders was held on Tuesday.

ISLAMABAD: In a strange quest for votes, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Asad Umar, who is contesting the election from NA-54 (Islamabad), has shaken hands with the former head of a militant group banned by the United Nations, it emerged on Tuesday.

Mr Umar, who is apparently leading the race for the NA-54 seat against his main rival Anjum Aqeel of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, held a meeting with leader of Ansarul Ummah Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil along with other clerics.

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The official Facebook page of the party titled ‘NA540Islamabad’ has said Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil has joined the PTI. Above the picture of Asad Umar and Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil and his followers in a marquee where the meeting was arranged the text written in Urdu states: “Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil has joined the PTI along with scores of clerics. Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil has made the decision to join the PTI while extending support to Asad Umar, the party candidate from NA-54, with the commitment to forward the efforts to make Pakistan an Islamic welfare state in true sense.”

Maulana Khalil denied the social media reports that he had joined the PTI, but admitted that he along with his followers would support the PTI candidate.

“We have only extended support to Asar Umar in NA54 because we respect him and we will try to help him,” he said while talking to Dawn.

Maulana Khalil, who hails from Dera Ismail Khan, settled in Islamabad after establishing the large Khalid Bin Walid Madressah on its outskirts. He leads Ansarul Ummah, which is also a member of the Defence of Pakistan Council.

He was among the pioneer mujahideen of the first Afghan jihad in the 1980s and one of the founders of Harkatul Mujahideen al Islami (HuM), but now heads Ansarul Ummah, which is said to be a front organisation of HuM.

HuM is a designated international terror outfit and Maulana Khalil, too, was a proscribed person under the Fourth Schedule though his current status is unclear. HuM was also banned by Pakistan.

One of his close aides told Dawn that Maulana Khalil was not in the Fourth Schedule.

He said Maulana Khalil was supporting Asad Umar on personal grounds. “We respect Gen Umar sahib [PTI candidate’s father]. He was an upright man and Maulana sahib had good relations with him,” he said while clarifying their position after the meeting with the PTI candidate.

Mr Umar said the Facebook writing was ‘incorrect’ and was a ‘mistake’ by his team. “We had a meeting which was attended by ulema of other sects, too, including Shia and Barelvi,” he said, adding that Maulana Khalil had never been involved in any illegal activity.

Published in Dawn, July 18th, 2018