Clerics’ honorarium to cost Rs2.6bn annually, PA told

Updated 11 Aug 2020

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Special assistant to the chief minister on auqaf, Haj and religious affairs Mohammad Zahoor said Rs10,000 to be paid to every imam of jamia mosque on a monthly basis. — APP/File
Special assistant to the chief minister on auqaf, Haj and religious affairs Mohammad Zahoor said Rs10,000 to be paid to every imam of jamia mosque on a monthly basis. — APP/File

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly was told on Monday that the annual cost of honorarium to be paid to 22,234 Aaima (khateebs) of jamia mosques in the province on a monthly basis would be around Rs2.6 billion.

Replying to a question of Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal member Humaira Khatoon in the house, special assistant to the chief minister on auqaf, Haj and religious affairs Mohammad Zahoor said the Fund Flow Mechanism for the payment of honorarium to Aaima had been prepared in consultation with the Accountant General Office.

He said the required funds for the purpose had yet not been allocated in the budget and that the matter would be discussed with the chief minister.

Mr Zahoor said Rs10,000 to be paid to every imam of jamia mosque on a monthly basis.

CM aide says payment won’t be converted into regular salary

“The government won’t convert the Aaima monthly honorarium into regular salaries,” he said.

However, the special assistant failed to give a timeline for the payment of stipend.

The PTI government had approved a scheme in 2017 to pay honorarium to Aaima of jamia mosques across the province on every month.

The opposition Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl had opposed the initiative and alleged that the PTI was trying to bribe ulema through foreign funding.

The department concerned has prepared a list of 22,234 Aaima, who qualify for the proposed monthly stipend.

The official reply says 6,505 of the 22,234 enlisted Aaima, who have neither computerised national identity cards nor bank accounts, have refused to get honorarium.

A list of Aaima in merged tribal districts for honorarium payment has also been prepared.

Responding to a question, environment minister Syed Mohammad Ishtiaq said the government was planning to provide alternate fuels to communities in far-flung areas of the province to reduce pressure on forests.

He said a plan was under consideration to set up micro-hydropower stations in Kumrat and other areas to protect forests.

The minister admitted that forests in mountainous areas were under pressure as local communities used timber as firewood.

Deputy Speaker Mahmood Jan, who chaired the proceedings, castigated the excise department for ignoring his orders issued two weeks ago for the production of the lists of vehicles confiscated since 2013.

He directed the chief secretary to ask the department concerned to provide details of the impounded vehicles and names of the people, who were given those vehicles on ‘superdari’.

The chair warned that ‘such lethargy’ won’t be tolerated in future.

A music video filmed on the premisesof the Masjid Wazir Khan in Lahore city drew strong reaction from the opposition benches, which demanded the Punjab government’s action against the violators of the mosque’s sanctity.

On a point of order, Pakistan Peoples Party member Nighat Yasmin Orakzai complained that artists were given official permission for filming the music video inside the mosque.

She proposed that the assembly pass a joint resolution to condemn the act.

MMA lawmakers Maulana Lutfur Rehman and Inayatullah Khan condemned filming inside the mosque.

Labour minister Shaukat Ali Yousafzai said filming on the mosque’s premises was a condemnable act.

“The Punjab government has already initiated inquiry into the matter. The act was a conspiracy against Islam and the state,” he said.

Law minister Sultan Mohammad Khan introduced the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Waqf Properties (Amendment) Act, 2020, in the house.

The house approved for discussion a joint adjournment motion tabled the MMA lawmakers regarding construction of Phase-II of Swat Expressway.

Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2020