A meeting of religious scholars was convened in Islamabad on Friday under the chairmanship of Federal Minister of Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri to discuss various matters, including Muharram preparations.

During the meeting, the religious affairs minister revealed that Prime Minister Imran Khan had called him for consultation regarding renowned economist Dr Atif Mian's appointment to the government's Economic Advisory Council.

"I told him what reaction there would be," he said.

He said he had told the prime minsiter that "whoever had been declared a non-Muslim will remain a non-Muslim; however, the state has to fulfill its responsibilities to grant minorities their due rights, as is incumbent upon it.

"Atif Mian's appointment was based on his expertise in economic affairs rather than his religious beliefs," he said, while at the same time revealing that "upon indication [of his faith] the notice of his appointment was retracted".

The minister said that since the matter was settled, there was no need to dissect the matter and no further investigation was necessary.

Muharram preparations

During the course of the meeting, preparations for the upcoming month of Muharram were discussed and a joint notification was issued pertaining to the same.

The notification called on clerics to desist from issuing any inflammatory statements against other sects.

"Religious differences should be settled through consultation, reflection and serious dialogue," it said. "National platforms should not be used to ridicule other sects," it added, before listing the religious personalities that ought not to be criticised and asking all schools of thought to remain united on national issues.

During the meeting, Allama Izhar Bukhari put forth the recommendation that all TV channels who invite 'controversial' ulema to air their beliefs be banned. He also proposed that "those who sing songs all year round and then lecture us in Muharram" be banned from the airwaves as well.

The various groups of scholars vowed to maintain an atmosphere of "love, tolerance and mutual understanding between them" throughout the holy month.

They also "promised to respect the viewpoint of those following a different path".

Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat also vowed to ensure peace and stability during the month and to work with the government towards the same.

The also recommended that action be taken without discrimination against anyone disrespecting sacred figures, the national flag or the army.

Blasphemous caricatures contest

The religious affairs minister praised Prime Minister Imran Khan for his stand against the blasphemous caricatures contest in the Netherlands, which they said "no leader since Quaid-i-Azam had ever taken".

"The way letters were issued to various foreign ministries, and the issue raised on different international platforms, is an unprecedented diplomatic measure," he said.

On conclusion of the meeting, the federal ministry of religious affairs appealed to provincial governments to hold such meetings at the provincial and district level as well.

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