Muslims in state of turmoil, says Tahir Ashrafi
26 August, 2013
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC) on Sunday convened "Istehkam-e-Pakistan Conference" [conference for stability in Pakistan] in Islamabad to decide a course-of-action with regard to the country's current situation, violent incidents in Islamabad and Bhakkar, situation at the Line of Control and the government's offer to the Taliban to hold peace talks.
The conference was attended by leaders of more than 30 religious and political organisations.
Speaking on the occasion, PUC Chairman Hafiz Muhammad Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi said Muslims were in a state of turmoil at the moment.
"On one hand, innocent people are being killed in Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Kashmir while on the other, bloodshed of Pakistanis is also continuing. The recent tragic incidents in Bhakkar, Islamabad and Karachi have reminded us how important it is to become united and organised to stop the elements that are trying to harm Pakistan and Islam."
The PUC chairman added, "Your attendance at today's Istehkam-e-Pakistan Conference clearly indicates that people belonging to all religions and sects in Pakistan are united for peace and stability in the country, and we will not allow anyone to play with Pakistan's security and stability."
He said that Pakistan Ulema Council has always strived to focus more and more on commonalities.
Ashrafi said that all groups living in Pakistan, whether they are Muslims, non-Muslims or belonging to any other sect, should be aware that the protection of Pakistan and Pakistanis is their joint responsibility. Any sort of ignorance in this matter can lead to a major tragedy, he said.
In the end, the following joint declaration was also issued.
"1. All parties attending the conference strongly condemn the tragic incidents in Bhakkar, Islamabad, Karachi and Quetta. We demand that the government should conduct a judicial inquiry into the Bhakkar tragedy and take stern action against incompetent administration and police. Likewise, all parties attending the conference strongly condemn the incident of firing on a religious seminary in Islamabad and martyrdom of students. We demand that the government should arrest those responsible for this assault.
2. All parties attending the conference strongly condemn the repeated LOC violations by India and pay tribute to all soldiers and civilians martyred as a result of firing by Indian troops. We demand that rather than ignoring frequent Indian aggression, the government should raise this issue at international level. Pakistan desires peaceful ties with all its neighbours, including India. However, if anyone attempts to play with Pakistan's security, stability and sovereignty, then the Pakistani nation will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the military and any aggression will be responded effectively.
3. All parties attending the conference believe that the incidents in Bhakkar, Islamabad, Karachi, Quetta and Punjab are part of a conspiracy to spark sectarian violence. We urge all religious organisations in the country to be alert of these conspiracies that aim to induce clashes between Pakistanis.
4. The conference strongly condemns the bloodshed of Muslims in Syria and Egypt, and demand that the Pakistani government should raise its voice over this issue at the UN and OIC. Efforts should be made to find peaceful solution to the crises in Egypt and Syria.
5. The conference applauds the announcement made by the Pakistani prime minister during a session of the national security committee in which he offered militant groups to hold peace talks. However, we want to stress the need for all of the country's political parties, religious organisations and defence institutions to reach a consensus over this issue. For this purpose, parties in the parliament as well as those outside should be invited to the All Parties Conference being convened by the prime minister. Moreover, the features and positive and negative aspects of the negotiation process should be disclosed to the nation before initiating the talks.
6. All parties attending the conference condemn the attacks carried out by militants on non-Muslims in Karachi, Hyderabad and other places. We openly announce that non-Muslims in Pakistan have the same rights as Muslims. Nobody has the authority to deprive people of their basic human rights on the basis of their religion or sect."