PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government in accordance with the directives of Chief Minister (CM) Pervez Khattak is engaged in the collection of data of all the mosques for the appointment of its “Khateeb” as official employees of the government.
The CM floated the idea during a cabinet meeting couple of days back and the ministry of Religious Affairs is busy in the collection of data. Religious Affairs Minister Habib Ur Rahman Khan, who is affiliated with Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), has confirmed the reports and said that the chief minister floated the idea in line with the National Action Plan (NAP) in a bid to curtail the growing trend of militancy and terrorism.
He said that there will be defined criteria for the appointment of khateebs for mosques and they would perform their duties according to government’s policies. In this connection, he said that the rules and regulations for their appointment and terms and conditions of their employment and responsibilities will be decided by the government.
In response to a question, he dispelled the impression about rifts amongst ulema on the grounds of religious faiths and beliefs. He said that there is no difference amongst the ulema, and he also disagreed that majority of the khateebs were associated with religious political parties.
He also said that majority of khateebs, occupying offices of Imam in mosques, inherited them from their fathers and forefathers. He also negated the view that these offices were misused by leaders of different politico-religious parties from time to time.
Opposition Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazal (JUI-F) MPA Mufti Fazal Ghafoor said, “This idea is just to hide the failure of present government as well as to fuel rifts amongst ulema, which are associated with different parties or believe in different schools of thought.” He claimed that during the last four years, the present Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) led coalition government utterly failed in honouring its promises and commitments made with people during 2013 elections.
The active member of the civil society and Tribal NGO’s Consortium Chairman Zar Ali Afridi has welcomed the idea but said that it should not be monopolised by a particular party. He said that at present JI is in PTI’s coalition government, therefore, there exists the possibility of politicization of the idea by JI leaders.
He said that in future, similar attempts might be made by other politico-religious parties like JUI-F. So he urged the government to go for implementation of the idea with consensus, and achieve the objective of arresting growing trend of militancy from mosques and seminaries.