A larger number of Ulema and Mashaikh attending the National Ulema and Mashaikh Convention by Jamiat Ulema Pakistan (JUP) at the Convention Centre in Islamabad. -APP Photo/Javed Quershi

ISLAMABAD The government on Sunday announced setting up of a 7-member 'Sufi Advisory Council' (SAC) with an aim to combating extremism and fanaticism by spreading Sufism in the country.

Interestingly, the SAC replaces an earlier such exercise when the PML-Q government had notified constitution of a 'National Sufi Council' with party president Chaudhry Shujaat as its president and taking some progressive intellectuals on it to give Sufism a chance to flourish.

The said NSC however became dormant after holding a 'Sufi gala' — a semi-music festival — in Lahore's Qala and printing calendars in the name of council.

According to an official handout Haji Muhammad Tayyab who heads one of several factions of Jamiat Ulema Pakistan (JUP) will be the chairman of the SAC which will be holding its first meeting at the ministry of religious affairs on Tuesday June 9.

Other members of the SAC include Sahibzada Sajidur Rahman, Maulana Syed Charaghuddin Shah, Rawalpindi, Dr. Ghazanfar Mehdi Islamabad, Hafiz Muhammad Tufail Islamabad, Iranmullah Jan, Director General Ministry of Religious Affairs and Abdul Ahad Haqqani Deputy Director R&S) MORA.

While two last named persons were ministry's officials Dr. Ghazanfar Mehdi is a retired government official, Sajidur Rahman is a close relative of Raja Zafarul Haq (PML-N) and Charaghuddin Shah is a member of PML-Q's Ulema Mashaikh wing.

Haji Hanif Tayyab remained part of former military dictator Ziaul Haq's regime in various capacities including a minister.

It is not clear whether another religious body could be set up in presence of Council of Islamic Ideology which is a constitutional body.

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