ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC) on Tuesday asked clerics and religious scholars belonging to all mainstream schools of thought to display maturity amid the current environment and not to fall into the trap of enemies of the country.

PUC Chairman Hafiz Mohammad Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi, who is also the president of Muthahida Ulema Board, told media that there was a need for scrutiny and screening of miscreants in the rank and file of religious groups.

“There is a need to clear all black sheep from religious segments who have led to violation of peace in the country.”

He said there is a consensus in the Muthahida Ulema Board and clerics belonging to different schools of thought that unity of Muslims is based on the belief in the oneness of Allah, finality of the prophethood, sanctity and respect for Ahl-i-Bait and companions of the holy prophet.

Hafiz Ashrafi said it was not permissible to bring non-Muslims to Islam forcefully, adding at the same time no one was allowed to disrespect Ahl-i-Bait and companions of the holy prophet.

He also said it was the responsibility of state institutions such as the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to contain propaganda and campaigns aimed at sowing discord among the Muslims in the country through social media.

“Paigham-i-Pakistan has been unanimously approved by all religious groups while Muthahida Ulema Board too has formulated a code of conduct. These documents should be implemented to ensure religious harmony in the country.”

He added: “We have to be very careful over these issues, keeping in view conspiracies hatched by India to fan sectarianism through social media in Pakistan.”

Hafiz Ashrafi lauded the role of Prime Minister Imran Khan and Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa in containing extremist elements.

Responding to a question regarding the Palestine issue, Hafiz Ashrafi said Pakistan has a clear stance on the Palestine and Kashmir cause.

“But at the same time Pakistan has historically maintained that its relations with Muslim countries are independent of regional and international power struggle,” he said adding: “We have brotherly relations with Turkey, Jordan and Egypt which have diplomatic relations with Israel for a long time.

“Similarly, there will not be any change in relations with the Gulf countries who have recently recognised Israel.”

The PUC chairman said the prime minister had also made it clear that Pakistan would not recognise Israel.

Published in Dawn, September 16th, 2020