Tableeghi Jamaat: Playing politics
The Sharifs, who portray themselves as the torch-bearers of principled politics, have by their actions shown themselves quite otherwise. In other words, they have shown that when it comes to garnering votes, they have no problem courting the conservative and right-wing elements of society.
A war of words keeps erupting between Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif over issues of religious extremism, banned outfits and existence of the Taliban in southern Punjab. The former makes the allegations and the latter denies all of them, saying that no such thing is happening in his province.
In the same vein, the interior minister’s recent statement about the activities of the Tableeghi Jamaat seems to have forced the Sharifs to come forward and vociferously defend the Raiwind markaz; and the Sharifs have gone to the extent of demanding that the federal government issue an official rebuttal in this regard, against one of its own ministers.
Malik had said that the headquarters of the Tableeghi Jamaat in Raiwind was a breeding ground for extremists. However, Sharif immediately rebutted this and gave a statement that the organisation was non-political and non-militant. According to reliable information, following the interior minister’s remarks, the provincial government deployed personnel of the counter-terrorism department and other law-enforcement agencies at Raiwind. A senior police official of DIG rank said that in many cases they have uncovered links between people who went missing and were thought to have turned to a life of militancy and Raiwind, ie, the headquarters of the Tableeghi Jamaat.
Of course, the right thing to do for the ruling party in Punjab would have been to not dismiss the statement of the interior minister but rather have it investigated. If it is insistent that there is no connection with militancy whatsoever then there should be nothing to hide and an independent police investigation would have revealed just that.
Let us also not forget that it was the PML-N whose law minister was in recent weeks seen hobnobbing with the chief of the outlawed Sipah-i-Sahaba and even attended some public meetings with him, prior to a by-election.
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