JUI-F Sindh: An Ethno-Religo-Political Party


NAIMAT KHAN – Karachi (AFKAR-Affairs Exclusive)

The results of recent intraparty polls of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazal (JUI-F) Sindh chapter once again brought to the fore the ethnic influence over one of the strong religo-political parties of Pakistan. A report published by Pashtun gazette on July 12, 2019 has discussed how the party’s Sindh Secretary Dr Rashid Soomro side-lined senior leader Qari Usman by not considering him for the party’s 15-member provincial executive council and 45-member provincial Shura۔

In fact, we have a few recent instances of mixing of religion and nationalism by Fazlu Rehman led JUI-F for making inroads into the upper Sindh. However, the party has a ‘little discussed’ but long history of Sindhi nationalism in this southern Pakistani province.

Rewinding 47 years of political history one sees central leadership of this religo-political party finding it hard to differentiate between the Sindhi separatist leader Ghulam Murtaza Syed – popularly known as G.M Syed – and his own party’s provincial leader and one of the country’s leading cleric, Maulana Muhammad Ismail.

“While reading your resolution I felt if G.M Syed is speaking and Sindhi nationalism stands objective of the JUI”, Mufti Mehmood, the then central secretary general of JUI, in his letter on March 13, 1972 to Maulana Muhammad Ismail, writes.

Sindh Policy
Copy of page-4 of the Sindh Policy, calling for provincial autonomy, sending back non-Sindhi bureaucrats to their respective provinces, removing names of non-Sindhi settlers from voter rolls, cancellation of land allotted to non-Sindhis as compensation and giving all departments, except foreign affairs, defense, currency and foreign trade, to the provinces.

Mehmood – who was father of the incumbent JUI-F Chief, Maulana Fazlur Rehman – was pointing towards content of a resolution passed with 95% majority by the JUI Sindh executive council in its meeting held on January 30, 1972.

Mufti Mehmood
Copy of letter dated March 13, 197 sent to Maulana Muhammad Ismail, the administrator Madrasa Arabia MazharulUloom and the JUI-Sindh’s office-bearer, by the party’s central secretary general Mufti Mehmood, in which he had declared his Sindh Policy a speech by staunch Sindhi nationalist leader GM Syed.

“This way you will confine JUI Sindh to few persons and the party will not go beyond of G.M Syed [viewpoint],” Mufti Mehmood further writes in the letter. G.M Syed was a Sindhi Nationalist, who spearheaded the Pakistan Independence bill in the British Sindh Assembly – now Sindh Assembly, but later in 1972 founded the Sindhi nationalist movement, Jeay Sindh, for the freedom of Sindh from Pakistan.

The JUI Sindh meeting was held after the fall of Dhaka, which according to JUI-Sindh’s clerics was result of “bad acts of the rulers over last twenty years”.

“Moreover, the Pakistan’s rulers have usurped the rights of the people living in different parts of the country. The rulers have snatched the political rights of the people of East Bengal, Sindh, Balochistan and North West Frontier Province (NWFP – now called Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” the JUI Sindh’s clerics noted.

Point one of the resolutions, which had criticized the formation of One-Unit, reads. “For the restoration of political, economic, cultural and domestic rights of people of Sindh, all higher education should be imparted in Sindhi whereas all official correspondents should be done in Sindhi language. Moreover, the Sindhi should not only be made official language of Sindh but it should also be brought as per Pakistan’s national languages.”

The resolution also demanded that fresh factories should be set up in Sindh’s small cities, others than Karachi and including Hyderabad and Sukkar, where all skilled labor, including engineers should be local. “If the needs are not fulfilled only then engineers from other provinces should be employed”.

Hafiz Muhammad Ismail

The resolution, which demanded the establishment of agricultural, medical, engineering and cadet colleges in Sindh with “all local enrolment”, urged that only four departments should rest with center – the foreign affairs, defense, currency and foreign trade.

According to resolution only those having come to province before creation of one-unit should be called as Sindhis. “The domicile certificates of children of those who don’t qualify to be called Sindhi shall be cancelled”. “The officers hailing from other provinces should be sent back to their respective provinces” further reads the resolution, which urged for erasing names of those from voter rolls who had come from other provinces. The resolution also demanded that lease of land allotted as compensation to people of other provinces should be cancelled.

This resolution came as utter shock to Mufti Mehmood and he didn’t approve Mufti Ismail’s Sindh policy, pushing him to form his own party, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Sindh but it couldn’t become popular.

The new party couldn’t excel and so the historically seminary founded by Maulana Abdullah, grandfather of Maulan Ismail.

At the heart of this ethnic-cum-religious ideology was a family of clerics and their 134-yeards old Seminary.

Madrasa Arabia Mazharul Uloom

Madressah in 1884
Photo of Madrasa Arabia MazharulUloom taken in 1884 (Photo by Madrasa office)

A 134-year-old religious seminary, Madrasa Arabia Mazharul Uloom, in Karachi’s oldest town of Lyari has lost its charm for a significantly large number of young students due to its moderate approach to issues like jihad and nationalism.

Situated in the Khadda Market neighborhood, the madrasa experienced its downfall in recent decades since it continued to follow the ideology of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Hind, instead of its Pakistan chapter, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Pakistan.

After Subcontinent’s Partition in 1947, the seminary administration adopted a Sindhi nationalist outlook that was unacceptable to parties doing politics in the name of religion, instead of ethnicities, languages or provinces.

Madarsa in 1939.jpg
Photo of Madrasa Arabia MazharulUloom taken in 1939 (Photo by Madrasa office)

According to the seminary’s current administrator, Maulana Mahmud Hasan, who is named after Shaykh al-Hind, Maulana Mahmud al-Hasan, the madrasa was established by his great-grandfather Maulana Abdullah in 1884.

Maulana Hasan, who is a PhD candidate at the University of Karachi, says that Maulana Abdullah sent his grandfather Maulana Muhammad Sadiq to Darul Uloom Deoband, which is located in a town in Saharanpur district, Uttar Pradesh in present-day India. “He enrolled himself on the advice of Maulana Ubaidullah Sindhi, who along with my grandfather remained close to Shaykh al-Hind Maulana Mahmud al-Hasan.”

Maulana Mahmud Hasan administrator of Madrasa Arabia Mazhar ul Uloom speaking to AfkarAffairs (photo by Akber Baloch)

According to the current seminary administrator, the aim behind establishing the Deoband madrasa in Uttar Pradesh was to provide a platform where people with “correct Islamic thought” could struggle against British imperialism. “The purpose revolved around the independence of India, and this struggle was nationalistic and not religious,” he claims.

“After 1947, the ideology of Deoband [Pakistan] has undergone many changes,” he added. “Today, when we talk of nationalism, some of our religious scholars say it’s not in accordance with religion.”

According to him, the religious scholars of Sindh have always taken a different view on most issues since Partition, “whether it pertained to the shifting of capital from Karachi to Islamabad or creation of One Unit.”

“Shaykh al-Hind had opposed Partition because religion cannot become a basis for a nation. A nation is formed on the basis of creed, area and language … That said, nationalism does not allow hatred towards others,” Hasan clarified, adding: “In Pakistan every province has its rights.”

These leaders were hosted by Maulana Muhammad Sadiq (1).jpg
Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi addressing public gathering of Jamiat-ul-Ulema at Karachi hosted by Maulana Sadiq, founder of Madrasa Arabia Mazharul Uloom. (Photo by Madrasa Office)

“If Pakistan has been created, the provinces have created it. Every province has its rights. The partition on basis of religion was not ideology of Deoband. But today most of the Deoband madaris have adopted the ideology of Muslim League. When we openly say it then why won’t they differ with us?”

No To Kalabagh Dam

The people of Sindh have the biggest rights over the resources of their province. “Even religion establishes this right,” he argued. “If their needs are fulfilled, the remaining resources can be spent on non-Sindhis living in the province.”

He contended the construction of Kalabagh Dam was un-Islamic because all people have rights over the waters of river Indus. “When you stop water the people of Sindh will be deprived. It will also create environmental problems due to the continued coastal erosion. Several villages have vanished due to sea erosion. Since Kalabagh deprives the province of its rights, it’s un-Islamic.”

Despite these differences Darul Uloom Deoband has ties with mainstream Deoband madaris of Pakistan because we can’t gather thousands of people for them, Maulana Hasan says.

“My nationality is Sindhi, whereas our collective nationality is Pakistani and the forums like OIC are Ummah,” Hasan explains.

No to Afghan & Kashmir Jihad

According to Hasan, the Afghan Jihad of the 1980s and the ongoing fight by the Taliban in Afghanistan were not Islamic jihad, either. Going against some prominent religious clerics belonging to his own school of thought in Pakistan, Maulana Hasan said: “We consider neither of these conflicts an Islamic jihad. If you call it national resistance, we will support it. Similarly, fighting in Indian Occupied Kashmir should not be described as Islamic jihad. It’s a fight for self-determination by the people of the Valley.”

These leaders were hosted by Maulana Muhammad Sadiq
Maula Abdul Kalam Azad, Dr Syed Mahmud and Dr M.A Ansari were hosted by Maulana Sadiq in Karachi (Photo by Madrasa office)

Maulana Hasan maintained that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) was the alternative to Islamic Caliphate in today’s world. Under OIC’s institutional structure, the governing units were autonomous but only the Caliphate “could wage Jihad.”

To Hasan, the just concept of nationalism was compromised when the Afghan resistance against the USSR was declared Islamic jihad. “Instead of confining the Afghan refugees to camps, like Iran did, Pakistan allowed them to settle in Karachi and other cities and, as a result, we saw a boom in the business of narcotics and firearms.”

Seminary different from mainstream Madaris

Asked how his seminary was different from other mainstream Deobandi schools in the country, Hasan said: “Our aim is to produce graduates with vast understanding of religion.”

“The madrasa wants to create an ability in its students to learn the Quran and the Hadith in their true sense. We further work on a comprehensive understanding of Deen. For this, we have included Hujjatullah al-Baligha of Shah Waliullah in syllabus which is not taught in other Pakistani Deobandi seminaries.”

Documentation of Newspapers bought by Madrasa in July 1967. Newspapers are mandatory part of the Library.jpg
Documentation of Newspapers purchased by Madrasa Arabia MazharulUloomin July 1967. Even today, newspapers are mandatory part of the seminary’sLibrary (Photo by Madrasa office

“This is not the only book aimed at broadening the understanding of our students,” Hasan continued, adding The Muqaddimah of Ibn Khaldun (Ibn Khaldun’s Prolegomena) was also part of syllabus.

Minhajul Abedin of Imam Ghazali is also taught at the seminary, he added. The library of the madrasa, which is open to all students, offers variety of books in English, Urdu and Sindhi languages along with newspapers and magazines. “This stops the students from thinking narrowly about their religion and prevents them from falling for extremist narratives. We reject religious extremism and oppose liberal fascism due to which we are not liked by both.”

“Deen doesn’t preach violence. We are not allowed to kill any human being,” he added.

Mazharul Uloom had been among ten seminaries from across Pakistan from where Pakistan Army would pick Khateeb in 70s.jpg
Madrasa Arabia Mazharul Uloom had been among ten seminaries from across Pakistan from where Pakistan Army would pick Khateeb in 70s. It lost the space in the list after its refusal to endorse Afghan Jihad (Photo by Madrasa office)

A few enrolments

“We have around 40 full-time boarding students. Around 150 are day-time students, several of them attending Madrasah for Nazra-e-Quran,” Mustafa Rajpar, one of the faculty members told. Among them most are from Balochistan. In its popular days hundreds of students from across the country would attend the seminaries.

Unpopular views regarding popular subjects like Jihad and nationalism are major but not the only reason of decline in enrolments. Due to lack of funding the seminary is unable to provide facilities like Mukafa Shihria (scholarship) to its students. Other seminaries, where thousands study, provide such facilities, says Maulana Zahid Shafi, former graduate of the Madrasah.

English, Urdu and Sindhi language newspapers are mandatory part of Madrasa Arabia MazharulUloom’s Library (photo by Akber Baloch)

“Elsewhere there is inertia whereas the curriculum at Mazharal Uloom is pluralistic and great but several students leave due to lack of facilities,” he says, adding since the seminary – though called Deoband Sani – is not registered with Deoband Broad Wafaq ul Madaris Al-Arabia, Pakistan, it also pushes the students to switch to other seminaries.

Madrasa Arabia Mazharul Uloom (photo by Akber Baloch)




Lyari’s female boxers: Punching their way out of fear and taboos

KARACHI: Sardar Uzair Jan Baloch, a gang leader in Karachi’s infamous Lyari Town, and his comrade Noor Muhammad are playing football with the severed head of rival gang leader Arshad Pappu.
Pappu is taken from a posh neighborhood while partying with friends. He is tortured, tied to a car and dragged through Lyari’s narrow streets.
His corpse is thrown on a donkey cart and paraded around before it is burnt and flung into a gutter.
Just 1 km away from where this savagery is perpetrated, Nawab Ali Baloch, a former international boxer, is training nearly a dozen of his female family members.
“There was no concept of women boxing in Pakistan before 2013, when I started training female members of my family,” he told Arab News.
He joined the Pak National Boxing Club in 1952, but left after 20 years to pursue other employment prospects.
Yet he never stopped training boxers, and when no one was around to attend his camp due to fierce gang warfare in the town, he started training his female relatives.
When the number of his students grew, he took them to the Young Boxing Club, where he now trains 48 females aged between 7 and 30.
His club secured eight gold and silver medals in the first boxing championship for women on Nov. 5.
“These girls have never given up. Even when the gangs were fighting, they always attended the classes on time,” he said, adding that there are four boxing clubs in Lyari.
In April 2015, a local female member of Sindh’s provincial assembly, Sania Baloch, suggested that there should be a proper focus on women’s boxing.
Asghar Baloch, general secretary of the Pakistan Boxing Association (PBA), told Arab News: “In May 2015, we announced the Women Boxing Camp in collaboration with the provincial sports department. The response was overwhelming.”
Maria Baloch, 12, has only been participating in the sport for two and a half years, but has already won seven gold medals.
“I used to watch Mohammed Ali on YouTube,” she said. “He inspired me to become a boxer.”
Recalling the challenges she faced, she added: “Although my family supported me from day one, many of my relatives talked about my passion negatively. They thought it wasn’t right for a girl.”
She said her father also opposed the idea since he thought she might get hurt. “I was taught to give equal importance to education, and I try to focus on both,” she added.
Aseefa Bhutto Zardari, daughter of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and the UN ambassador for polio eradication, recently visited the Young Lyari Boxing Club.
“I can’t tell you how happy she was to meet with these girls,” Naz Baloch, leader of the Pakistan People’s Party, told Arab News. “Her presence also increased the motivation of the boxers.” Zardari said she was going to provide the girls with equipment and other resources.
Maria said it was an unforgettable moment for the girls, adding: “We had attracted an important political figure to our town.”
Rauf Baloch, former president of the Karachi Boxing Association, said terrorism had caused a lot of damage to the town.
“It ended our education and destroyed our social values,” he said. “Our sports activities also came to a standstill. Fortunately, peace has now been restored to this place and good things are happening to its people.”
He added: “In the good old days, this town was known for football, boxing and other sports. It produced international players, and our clubs provided sports and ethical training to our children.
“In boxing, you get punched and you hit others. It’s not an easy game, but the way our girls are playing is simply awesome. I’m confident we’re gradually reclaiming our old Lyari.”

Pakistan’s universities: Temples of learning or breeding grounds for terror?

KARACHI: Soon after the attempted assassination on September 2 of Khawaja Izharul Hassan, leader of the opposition in Pakistan’s provincial assembly of Sindh, all institutions of higher learning in the province came under intense official pressure to allow intelligence monitoring of their students.
The attack was planned and executed by Ansarul Shariah Pakistan, an Al Qaeda-inspired militant group established in February by a group of students, including two former students of Karachi University. Nevertheless, the idea of intelligence monitoring has provoked opposition among many university staff. “Several admissions to the MPhil and PhD programs have recently been canceled on the recommendation of intelligence agencies,” said one staff member at Karachi University. “Apart from that, future recruitment of faculty members and student admissions are likely to take place after security clearance.”
Dr. Ahmed Qadri, convener of the MPhil-PhD admission committee, said there was “no extremist network operating on the campus.”
“No student has been expelled from the university,” he said. “If a student is involved in terrorist activity, it can be described as his individual act. We have a comprehensive monitoring system that relies on student advisers and team of teachers.”
However, one faculty member complained: “Unnecessary security checks are disturbing the academic environment of our universities. Instead of addressing the root causes of terrorism, we are targeting education institutes on the pretext of intelligence monitoring.”
Another teacher denied that universities in Karachi had become a breeding ground for terrorists. “We know that some officials of law enforcement agencies were helping militant activities in the past. Should we then hold their entire institutions responsible for such acts?
“Education institutes are required to promote freedom of expression. However, we have been witnessing uninvited appearances by the army’s spokesperson on the campus, lecturing students.”
Raja Umar Khattab, a counterterrorism officer, recalled the days when individuals and groups openly encouraged university students to participate in violent activities. Before 2001, the Pakistani state used these groups to advance its own security interests in the region, and it was not surprising that its officials turned a blind eye to such activities. This ended after the 9/11 attacks in the United States, when the state realize that its policy of using non-state actors in its neighborhood was no longer sustainable.
“The open recruitment may have come to a halt,” said Khattab, “but terrorist outfits have not stopped looking for young and impressionable minds on university campuses. Many of these students are already affiliated with different religious groups.
“And with the advent of social media, anyone can be radicalized. This implies that our intelligence agencies need to improvise and build larger networks on university campuses.”
Victims who have suffered from the violent actions of radicalized students claim that the problem runs much deeper. Dr. Hassan Auj, whose father, Shakeel Auj, was killed by Al-Qaeda in 2014 for articulating enlightened views in public, told Arab News that the faculty members of many universities lacked a moderate world view.
“To address the problem of radicalization on campuses,” he said, “teachers must be subjected to a thorough psychological screening program. After all, they can push their students toward — or away from — the path of violent extremism.”
In October 2015, law enforcement agencies arrested Owais Raheel, who taught probability, statistical inference and operations management at Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology, for projecting the ideas of a proscribed group, Hizbut Tahrir. Raheel’s strategy was to talk about Islam during the first few minutes of his lecture, which enabled him to identify students who looked interested in religion and spend time with them outside the classroom.
On July 12, 2017, the Sindh Police invited vice-chancellors of 23 public and 17 private universities to attend a meeting to discuss the radicalization of students. It emerged that only the Bahria University, Karachi, which is owned and operated by the Pakistan Navy, had a comprehensive monitoring mechanism to deal with the issue.
Representatives of other universities said their student adviser offices were vigilant, but the vice-chancellor of one public university admitted that these departments lacked adequate funding, and that the advisers were hesitant to report suspicious students because they feared for their own lives.
The university heads were advised to include psychologists on the interview panels for admitting new students. Apart from that, counterterrorism officials recommended that universities use their notice boards to display the Fourth Schedule, a list of potentially dangerous individuals mostly belonging to proscribed organizations. The people on the list are not allowed to visit any institution of learning, to prevent them from propagating their views among young students. According to the Counterterrorism Department of Sindh Police, the measure is likely to create awareness among students about the danger of following these people, their organizations, and other people sympathetic to their views. Officials believe this is one way of discouraging campus radicalization.
At the meeting with Sindh police, Dr. Noshad A. Sheikh, of Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences in Jamshoro, said the university was under pressure to re-admit a female student, Noreen Leghari, who was arrested in April this year while working for a local offshoot of Daesh in Lahore. Police say Leghari volunteered as a suicide bomber.
Sheikh declined to say who was applying pressure on the university. “We have resisted so far since we believe her re-entry, even if she has been deradicalized, is likely to have a negative impact on our students,” he said.

Barelvi Lashkar-e-Jhangvi on the Horizon 


By: Naimat Khan

KARACHI: A new sectarian outfit, modeled on the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), has emerged in the Punjab province of Pakistan, intelligence sources say. While the dominant milieu of armed groups in Pakistan is Deobandi, the new group, calling itself “Labaik Ya Rasoolallah”, is Barelvi.

“Labaik Ya Rasool Allah draws from the Barelvi strand of the Sunni sectarian bent. It seeks to target those from the Deobandi school of thought,” disclosed an intelligence official.

According to sources, the group initially restricted itself to protests and sloganeering but has gradually become more militarized. “It will be another Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ). I fear it might be more lethal, if not checked on time,” said Raja Umar Khattab, a senior counter terrorism officer. According to an intelligence official, the organization has targeted members of Tableeghi Jama’at’, a nonviolent and apolitical organization of religious preachers from Deobandi sect, in various localities of Punjab province.

The group’s emergence not only adds a new, disturbing dimension to the sectarian war in the country but also presents a serious challenge to the soft image of the Barelvi community. The Barelvi sect has long been seen the sect of Sufi and peace loving devotees.

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“It is not just the responsibility of law enforcement and intelligence agencies to check activities of the outfit but the elders of the Barelvi school of thought should also campaign against it, prevent its consolidation,” Khattab suggests.

Barelvi militancy is not entirely a new phenomenon. According to analysts, the Deobandi, Ahle Hadith, and Shia groups’ strength stem from their role in Afghanistan and support from Arab countries and Iran. However, Barelvi groups have never been part of jihadist or militant activities. “But in recent years, they became violent on the issue of the blasphemy law, especially on the issue of Mumtaz Qadri,” said Zia Ur Rehman, a Karachi based journalist and author of Karachi in Turmoil.

Please also read: What does the anti-ISIS graffiti in Karachi’s Shia neighborhoods mean?

It’s pertinent to mention that Sunni Tehreek, a Karachi based Barelvi group has been on the watch list of security agencies due to its activities for the last many years. “From the late 90s onward ST has been involved in target killing, extortion and land grabbing in Karachi whereas several criminal elements found it as cover after the military operations of 90s, however, mainstream Barelvi groups have never supported it,” told an official.

Other analysts, however, see it as a shadow of the Deobandi militant ecosystem, unlikely to replace the hegemony of Deobandi group. “The networks of Deobandi militancy in Pakistan are much stronger so I don’t see a Barelvi movement presenting much of a challenge,” according to Asfandyar Mir, a University of Chicago based scholar of armed groups in South Asia. “Deobandi militancy has benefitted from years of state patronization. Post 9/11, many Deobandi groups gained from Al-Qaeda’s support. Even now, many in the state apparatus have a soft corner for various Deobandi groups. The state will not cut a Barelvi armed group the same slack. Mumtaz Qadri’s fate would have been very different if he was from a Deobandi faction,” he opines.


Originally Publishe in The Frontier Post

Defying the Taliban with love


Naimat Khan  TFT Issue: 06 Jan 2017


A few hundred metres from where the Taliban maintained their courts, communal harmony prevails. Naimat Khan reports from Manghopir.


By the end of 2013, Manghopir was the incontrovertible Ground Zero of the Taliban in Karachi. Its major neighbourhood, Sultanabad, built on qabza land (i.e. under the occupation of the land mafia), was home to both the leadership and the rank-and-file of the Wali-ur-Rehman Mehsud faction of the Taliban. In the foot of the mountainous ridge forming the border between Sultanabad and Ittehad town, the Taliban had a multipurpose office, built along the lines of their office in Miramshah bazaar in North Waziristan Agency. There, the ‘Ameer sahib’ would summon people to the Taliban’s ‘Shariah’ court. Southward in Sultanabad is the ANP Chowk, and also known as Madina Bakery. In the Taliban era, the Chowk was a symbol of terror in the vicinity. Bodies of around 87 people, including 17 policemen and 10 local Awami National Party (ANP) leaders and activists, were recovered from there. As the Taliban’s hold grew, locals say, the Manghopir Police Station, by the Manghopir River, was also closed down. From Sultanabad and nearby areas, violence and crime in the city was directed: ranging from bank heists to bomb blasts; and from targeted killings to attacks on political workers and minority sects.

But all was not bleak in this Taliban-infested part of Karachi. Less than a mile away from the center of violence, a tightly knit community with a sizeable proportion of four different religious and sectarian affiliations lived in a small colony, resilient in the face of waves of violence and political turbulence in the area. The colony is situated in the city government leprosy hospital and extended to Yaqoob Shah Basti. In the center of the colony are four places of worship of different religious affiliations: a mosque, a temple, a church, and an imambargah, all of which face each other.

Unlike the rest of the city where ethnic and religious identities reign supreme, the residents of this colony play down their differences. Many do not like to being identified by their religion, sect, ethnicity or language. Others speak of their respect for the others’ faith and ethnicity as their strength. That respect, they say, has helped them survive the turbulence common to Manghopir and Karachi.

Residents believe respect for others’ faith and ethnicity has helped them survive the turbulence common to Manghopir and Karachi

“I was admitted to the Leprosy hospital in late 60s. At that time almost all doctors were British. They treated us with immense compassion and would advise us to live in peace and love. I think their frequent emphasis on peaceful coexistence resonated with the community,” said 85-year-old Sohna Faqir hailing from Lasbela, Balochistan. Faqir recovered to full health at the hospital and yet did not leave the area. He was drawn to the care and camaraderie in the community and decided to settle here.

In the 1890s, a group of British doctors, visiting the area, came across patients of leprosy at the Mangophir Mazar bathing in the hot sulphur springs – also called ‘Mangi’ or Garm-aab. Back then it was famous that the springs had healing powers. When the visiting doctors saw the patients in pain, they were moved to do something. “They [the British] went back, collected funds and came back to setup the hospital in 1896,” according to Faqir.

“The Mandir existed before the hospital was established in 1896 but later during the British rule a Masjid and a church was setup for the patients, their attendees and other dwellers of the town,” said the 85 year old. As the population increased, Faqir said, an Imambargah – called the Imambargah Ali Raza – was built.

“Until 1986, the Sunni and Shia Muslims would offer prayers at the KMC Jamia Masjid. Later Imambargah Ali Raza was established,” said Noor Islam, a local journalist and resident of the same neighborhood, and added, “Despite separate places for offering their prayers, there has never been sectarian discord in the colony.”

For many years, Manghopir, a town founded by the 13th century saint Pir Haji Syed Sakhi Sultan, was home to Muhajirs, Sindhis, Punjabis, Kashmiris, Seraikis, Pakhtuns, Balochis, Memons, Bohras, and Ismailis. In 2008, thousands of displaced civilians from Waziristan started moving into the area. Following the Operation Rah-e-Nijat in South Waziristan, the demography of the area changed rapidly.

“After the operation, the Taliban militants came here in droves, started taking shelter in the neighbourhood, and by 2012-13 they achieved a complete hold over the locality, making it no-go area for political workers and law enforcement agencies,” said Islam.

“We have been living here for so many decades together. We are one people practicing different faiths, which made us strong when Taliban would freely roam around on the main road,” said Babu Lal, caretaker of the of the centuries’ old Mardeshwar Mahadev Mandir, the oldest of the four worship places in the locality. Facing the hospital, a few steps to the east, is the Imambargah and few steps to the west are the Church and the mosque.

According to Lal, the community regularly observes ritual of shab-e-barat, Diwali, and Holi, in which Muslims and Christians also participate. “From 2012 to 2014, we – as a precaution – would celebrate the events inside our houses. After the Karachi operation in 2015, we resumed our celebrations out in the open.” Even when we moved indoors, our Muslim brothers continued to be a part of our celebrations, Lal added. “Our Muslim friends make it a point to wish us on Christmas and Easter,” said William Gill, 45-year-old councilor of the Pakistan Peoples Party, and added, “Muslims join us at the Baptist Church in our prayers on Christmas.”

Asfandyar Mir, doctoral candidate at the University of Chicago, researching politically motivated violence and the dynamics of Taliban control in Karachi, recently visited the community. Commenting on the uniqueness of the ethnic and religious tolerance in the area, he added: “from a social science perspective, the fact that such islands of harmony exist amidst extreme turmoil is always remarkable. Most analyses on Karachi’s communal relationships start with the observation that in times of violence identities are hardened, and even apolitical religious and ethnic groups are compelled to seek security with their co-ethnics or religious groups. But this diverse community contradicts that trend, having withstood pressures in a very challenging part of the city.”

PMLN blames PPP, but it has failed to implement orders of its own PM

PMLN blames PPP, but it has failed to implement orders of its own PM

KARACHI: Dawn has published a report today, accusing the previous government of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) of not taking required actions under the 2008 United Nations resolution designating Hafiz Saeed’s organisation as a terrorist outfit.

“As a matter of record, the actions taken by the government of Pakistan have been carried out as per obligations vis-à-vis listing of Jamaatud Dawa under UN Security Council Resolution 1267 in December 2008,” says an unnamed spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior in a statement here on Wednesday which the ministry apparently released in reaction to a statement of India’s Ministry of External Affairs regarding the detention of JuD chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed.

However, this report we published in September 2014 shows the PMLN’s own Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif had issued directives to monitor the JuD and its activities but these directives were never implemented until the recent developments of house arrest and placing JuD Chief Hafiz Saeed and 37 others on Exit Control List. The move, according to reports, enjoys the support of security establishment. In September 2014 it was lacking.


File Photo of the JuD chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed File Photo of the JuD chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed

Naimat Khan

KARACHI: The government of Pakistan has asked all four provinces to closely monitor the fund raising activities and media coverage of Hafiz Saeed’s Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and its relief wing Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF), highly reliable sources told The Frontier Post here on Friday.

According to details these directives have been issued by Islamabad after the proposal by foreign ministry to have a close eye over and control JUD and its activities was approved by Prime Minister of Pakistan Mian Nawaz Sharif, who wishes friendly relations with India.

Well informed sources said the federal national counter terrorism authority wrote a memo to the chief and home secretaries of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces on 11 September 2014, in which they were being asked to monitor the JuD and Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation’s fundraising activities and its coverage on electronic and print…

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PPP’s Sindh Govt wants to shut Darululoom Karachi, Jamia Uloom-e-Islamia Banoori Town, Jamia Haqqania, other top Deobandi Seminaries


By: Naimat Khan

KARACHI: The Sindh Government of Pakistan People’s Party has recommended to place top Deobandi Seminaries across Pakistan, including the one visited by senior party leader, Senator Saeed Ghani, for support during December 2015 local government elections, on watch list, it emerged on Monday.

The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazal’s Sindh leader Qari Muhammad Usman said Chief Minister Sindh, Syed Murad Ali Shah is “out of his mind” as he is pondering to do “silly things”. “If they want to place our Jamia Uloom-e-Islamia and other top madaris on watch list, happily do it but you will have to face consequences,” the JUI-F leader warned.

Usman said it was impossible to place Jamia Uloom-e-Islamia Binoria Town and other top seminaries on watch list. Syed Murad Ali Shah visited Jamia Uloom-e-Islamia to offer prayers whereas his father had also visited the same seminary to offer special prayers during his regime. “No power can shut the religious seminaries.”

However, Sindh Religious Affairs Advisor Dr. Abdul Qayyum Soomro, refuted that there was any such list for recommending placing these seminaries was under watch. Talking to The Frontier Post, Soomro said none of the Madressahs mentioned by this newspaper is in the list. “I will share the original list tomorrow (today)” he said. He failed to present any list despite lapse of four days.

According to the list available to this scribe, the Sindh Government has proposed to place 94 seminaries, of which 52 are situated in Karachi, 15 in Sukkar, one each in Shahdadpur, Lahore, Multan, Attock, Ahmed Pur Shirkia, Mengora, Dera Ismail Khan, Tank, Akora Khattak and Rajore whereas two are situated in Balochistan.

Vast majority of these seminaries belong to Deobandi school of thought whereas few belong to Ahle Hadees School of thoughts. No Madressah from Barelvi or Shia sects are included in the list sent to the federal interior ministry for action. The interior minister has already showed displeasure over the list.

Of the prominent seminaries is Jamia Binoria Site, a seminary where senator Ghani had paid visit for election support, Jamia Banoria Town Guru Mandir, Karachi, which is a center of the Deobandi school of thought, Jamia Darul Uloom Korangi, Karachi, a seminary run by Mufti Rafi Usmani and Justice (R) Mufti Taqi Usmani, both sons Mufti-e-Azm Maulana Muhammad Shafi, and Jamia Farooqia Shah Faisal, Karachi.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the provincial government of Sindh believes that the Purana Tableeghi Markaz Mingora Swat, Darul Uloom Momaniya Dera Ismail Khan, Dar Ul Uloom Masoodia Tank, Darul Ul-Uloom Haqqania Akora Khattak and Shah Tauheed Sunnah Pajwar should be placed on watch list. On last Thursday, the Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah had accused Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan led federal interior ministry of not cooperating with Sindh government regarding the 94 religious seminaries, which the provincial government had identified for their links with terrorism.

“Our government will never allow terrorists and religious fanatics to keep playing with the lives of innocent people even if the federal government refuses to cooperate, which is evident from the response of Ministry of Interior to 94 seminaries involved in supporting or penetrating terrorism,” CM Sindh said to the Sindh cabinet meeting that he presided over on Thursday, January 19, 2016.

Briefing the cabinet on the response of Ministry of Interior to ban 94 madaris allegedly involved in promoting terrorism, the chief minister said that in the Apex committee the list of the madaris was presented.

The Committee was told that 94 madaris were involved in terrorist activities. “They had presented solid evidences gathered from the terrorists arrested by the Law Enforcement Agencies and they had revealed startling disclosures against the said seminaries. After the interrogation the concerned agencies worked hard to collect solid evidences and on the basis of that information, evidence and recommendation a list of 94 madaris spreading over 46 pages was sent to Ministry of Interior” a handout issued from CM House reads.

“I was quite surprised that when an attempt was made to politicize the issue instead of taking action as recommended by the government,” he said and added “come what may we would go ahead and keep crushing the terrorists wherever they live or nurtured because we are the worst affected people of terrorism. At the hands of terrorists, we have lost our leadership, we have sacrificed the lives of our law enforcement agencies personnel and we have sacrificed our innocent citizens, including the children- enough is enough. It shows how much serious the federal government is to take action against terrorists”.

He told the cabinet that the reply of 46-page letter the Ministry of Interior has sent a three page reply and now “we have sent them reply of their letter and would see and definitely see what action they are going to take and this would ascertain their seriousness to eliminate terrorism from the country,” he said.

Published in The Frontier Post