Ulema put their weight behind antiterrorism edicts

By Kalbe Ali

The government on Tuesday launched Paigham-i-Pakistan, a document that offers a counter-narrative to extremist ideas by collating edicts that declare all kinds of terrorism against the spirit of Islam. Launched by President Mamnoon Hussain, the document declares several anti-state actions, including rebellion, attacks and suicide attacks against the state, spreading of sectarianism and anarchy in the name of religion, or issuing a call to jihad without the consent of the state, as un-Islamic.

The counter-narrative also holds that the use of force against the state of Pakistan in the name of Sharia is un-Islamic and prohibits the use of force against the government. Signed by 1,829 religious scholars from nearly all mainstream sects in the country, the document was compiled through the efforts of the International Islamic University Islamabad. Paigham-i-Pakistan declares all violence against the state ‘un-Islamic’; says no justification to term military, govt personnel ‘infidels’.

It terms the use of force in the garb of implementation of imposing Sharia, the waging of an armed struggle against the state, or the use of violence and terrorist tactics to settle ethnic, geographical, religious and sectarian disagreements as contrary to the injunctions of Sharia law. Speaking at the launch event, President Mamnoon Hussain said that evolving a national counter terrorism narrative could help eradicate terrorism and be instrumental in the reformation of people who had lost their path due to negative propaganda from aberrant elements.

The president noted that the state and its institutions had fallen short of discharging their responsibilities from the 1970s to the 1990s, which gave rise to several complexities. The decrees highlighted in Paigham-i-Pakistan, he said, had been prepared by religious scholars and the Wifaqul Madaris the umbrella body for the regulation of religious seminaries in the country  after thorough consultations, and termed it a step in the right direction. “I believe that these decrees, prepared in the light of the true teachings of Islam, will transform their hearts and pave the way for their salvation in the hereinafter,” he said.

The chapter containing decrees from various schools of thoughts contains seven points, mostly related to suicide attacks on civilians and the armed forces, the call to jihad by individuals and faith-based sectarian killings. “The suicide attacks which are being carried out in Pakistan, encompass three different types of grave crimes  suicide, the killing of innocent persons and rebellion against an Islamic state. These attacks are not justified in any interpretation and supporting such an attack is akin to supporting a collection of sins,” it maintains.

Those involved in violent activities against the government  in the guise of implementing Sharia law, or in the name of ethnic differences  were, in fact, tantamount to high treason against an Islamic state. The decrees also highlight ideological differences among various schools of thought, but notes that the differences must be restricted to scholarly and ideological debates. The edicts declare it haram (prohibited) to kill one another or to impose one’s ideology on others through force, or to commit homicide.

The Paigham-i-Pakistan document bears the signatures of Shia scholars and clerics, even though the Shia school of thought only allows an ayatollah to issue such decrees. Explaining the issue, Majlis-i-Wahdatul Muslimeen leader Allama Nasir Abbas told Dawn that Shia clerics had signed the document to show their support and consent for the ideas contained therein. “We cannot issue a fatwa, therefore our signatures should be considered as our consent for Paigham-i-Pakistan,” he said, adding that nearly all the topics highlighted in the edicts were part of various decrees already issued by mujtahideen in the past.

The fatwas signed by several clerics, including Ahmed Ludhianvi of the proscribed Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, states: “We unanimously reject extremist ideology and extremism in all its forms and manifestations.” The joint declaration also points out that any negligence in implementing any part of the Constitution does not constitute the denial of the Islamic identity and basis of the formation of Pakistan. “On the basis of such negligence, there is no justification to declare personnel of the government, military or other security agencies as infidels.” The document concludes by expressing support for military operations “initiated to strengthen the security and stability of Pakistan”.

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