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Participants of Ittehad-e-Bain-ul-Muslimeen listening telephonic speech of Altaf Hussain leader of Muttahida Qaumi Movement at Lal Qila ground, Azizabad. Altaf Hussain said the MQM not only wanted harmony among followers of different religions but also among Muslims belonging to different sects.    -Photo by INP

KARACHI: Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain has urged the armed forces and the government to take “courageous steps” to rid the country of sectarian terrorism.

Addressing an Ittehad Bainul Muslimeen conference from London, he said harmony was the need of the hour and ulema of different sects should come together for ending the massacre of innocent people on sectarian grounds.

In what appeared to be a reference to the acquittal of a number of suspected members of banned groups, Mr Hussain asked the Supreme Court to hold accountable the judges of sessions courts and high courts “who were releasing known killers of innocent citizens”.

“It is regrettable that killers of innocent citizens are arrested but then released.... Does independence of judiciary mean releasing those who killed hundreds and ousting an elected prime minister from his office by punishing him?” he asked.

Ulema belonging to every school of thought attended the conference held by the MQM at the Lal Qila ground.

Mr Hussain said the MQM not only wanted harmony among followers of different religions but also among Muslims belonging to different sects.

He said many people had objected to his statement that Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah belonged to the Shia community, but “I stand by my statement”.

Although a number of Sunni ulema had also been attacked on sectarian grounds, Altaf Hussain said, he had yet to hear that Shias had hauled people belonging to the Sunni community off buses and killed them.

“Where are the ISI, MI, Intelligence Bureau, FC, Rangers and other paramilitary forces? Maintaining law and order and ensuring protection of life and property of the people is their responsibility.

“If people are left at the mercy of terrorists, these law enforcement agencies should be abolished and people should be allowed to take measures for their safety, ” the Muttahida chief added.

Mr Hussain urged Shia ulema to exercise restraint in their speeches and sermons, preach sectarian harmony and reach out to Sunni ulema. “If the Shia and Sunni ulema demonstrate that they are ready to give any sacrifice for inter-sect harmony, Sunnis and Shias will unite and fight against terrorists.”

The conference unanimously adopted a resolution for elimination of sectarianism and promoting harmony.

Another resolution condemned the killing of innocent people on sectarian grounds and termed it a conspiracy to destabilise the country.