Top leaders of the Tableeghi Jamaat, an influential grouping of Muslim religious leaders and scholars, have denounced religious extremism, militancy, terrorism and the enforcement of Shariah law at "gunpoint" in Pakistan.
"Shariah cannot be enforced at gunpoint," Abdul Wahab, chief of the Tableeghi Jamaat Pakistan, said on Monday at the conclusion of a congregation near Islamabad.
He said if that had been the case, Allah would have sent fierce angels to protect prophets and enforce their faiths. Leaders of the Jamaat, who scrupulously avoid speaking on controversial issues, also called for promoting inter-faith harmony, tolerance, human rights, social justice and peace.
Wahab, 90, said Prophet Mohammed never used force and had spread the word of god only by peaceful means. The scholar, who left his job as a sessions judge in pre-partition India and joined the Jamaat, also condemned extremism and militancy in the name of Islam.
Media reports said this was apparently a reference to the growing trend of Talibanisation and enforcement of Shariah in Swat and other areas of the North West Frontier Province.
Following President Asif Ali Zardari's approval of a controversial law to implement Shariah in Swat, the Taliban and religious hardliners have called for Islamic law to be enforced across Pakistan.