Pakistani Muslim leaders in a step to Defeat Extremism

Pakistani religious leaders reading the Islamabad Declaration

The “Islamabad Declaration”, which was signed by more than 500 Muslim religious leaders, publicly condemn terrorism, violence committed in the name of religion and fatwa (sacred edicts) widespread by radical Islamic clerics.

The Declaration was signed in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, during a gathering organized by the Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC). The initiative, according to observers, represents a turning point especially in the attitude towards religious minorities and Islamic sects the “Ahmadi”.

The Muslim leaders proclaimed 2019 as a “Year to annihilate terrorism, extremism and sectarian violence from Pakistan”, reiterating that “non-Muslim citizens must enjoy the same rights as everyone else”.

Fr. Bonnie Mendes, a Pakistani Catholic priest of Faisalabad, former regional coordinator of Caritas Asia, reported January 8, 2019, by Fides News Agency acknowledged that “The Declaration of Islamabad is a step in the right direction. We need to develop it to improve the image of the country: this is the way forward: government and opposition must work together to legislate on good policies, while civil society, religious communities and all citizens must work together for the social, civil and cultural progress of our country.”

It recognizes that Pakistan is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country, and notes that “it is the responsibility of the government to ensure the protection of the life of non-Muslim citizens in Pakistan”.

According to ‘Zenit’ news agency the Declaration condemns the murders committed “under the pretext of religious belief”, observing that this “is contrary to the teachings of Islam” and states that “no Islamic sect must be declared unfaithful”, noting that all citizens, whatever their religion or sect, “have the constitutional right to live in the country following their cultural and religious principles”.

It establishes the right for religious groups to organize themselves autonomously and asks civil authorities to ban “any material inciting religious hatred” and to punish anyone that threatens “the sacred places of non-Muslims”, implementing “the national action plan against extremism”.

A human rights activist was reported by “Fides”  saying: “We appreciate and acknowledge the efforts to stop extremism and contribute to tolerance, peace, justice, and equality in society. It is necessary to promote and spread this message to the communities.”