Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has sought help from Pakistan’s influential clerics to fight extremism, saying on Saturday they should change the mindset of people who see terrorists as Islamic fighters.
“Take a firm stand against those who are causing disunity among Muslims,” Sharif told clerics during a seminar at Jamia Naeemia, a leading seminary in Lahore of the majority Sunni school of thought.
The religious scholars, he said, should help dismantle a “narrative” characterised by militants killing thousands of people over the past decade in hopes of overthrowing the government and enforcing Taliban-style laws. They should also present a counter-narrative against the extremist mindset to realise the dream of peace.
Sharif told the audience that his government’s action against terrorists could not have the desired effect if people continued to support the ideology the militants propagated. He noted that a number of people were convinced that some militant organisations were fighting for the supremacy of Islam.
Such organisations had been given oxygen through the support of these sympathizers, he added.
“(The mosque’s pulpit) is still the most effective way of reaching out to the people of the country. You can spread the message of unity from here and shut the doors of terrorism in the country,” Sharif said.
“Religious scholars in the past disagreed with each other, but they never incited hatred in their followers’ hearts regarding other sects,” he said.
Sharif asked the religious scholars to promote the true teachings of Islam and take the war against terrorists to its logical end.
The premier was speaking on the death anniversary of Sarfaraz Naeemi, the founder of Jamia Naeemia who was killed by terrorists for his moderate views. Sharif said the sacrifice made by Naeemi and others would not go in vain and his government would trace the remaining terror networks in the country.
His appeal came a day after a bill was introduced in Parliament that would legalise trials of suspected militants in military courts. Along with such trials, Pakistan has carried out operations against militants but violence has continued.