Sarfraz Naeemi martyred in Lahore attack
Updated : Friday June 12 , 2009 2:55:09 PM
LAHORE (Nasarullah Malik): Renowned religious scholar and head of Jamia Naeemia Lahore Dr Sarfraz Ahmed Naeemi among four others were martyred in a suicide attack at a seminary here Friday, reports ARY NEWS.The blast that apparently was a suicide attack occurred following the Jumma prayer in Jamia Naeemia situated at Garhi Shahu area of the metropolis.According to preliminary reports, the blast was occurred in the office of Dr Sarfraz Ahmed Naeemi, the head of one of the largest religious seminary of the city. Naeemi was present in his office at the time of the blast, says an eyewitness.An eyewitness told ARY NEWS that a suicide bomber, 18 to 20, blew himself up inside the office of Dr Naeemi when he arrived after leading Jumma prayer in the seminary’s mosque.Dr Naeemi was severely injured in the incident and was brought to Mayo Hospital where he succumbed to the injuries.Principle of Jamia Naeemia, Dr Khalil and two students of the seminary were also among the deceased, it was reported.The blast was as powerful as it completely destroyed the office building and the roof of one portion of the building was also caved in.Rescuers and law enforcement personnel arrived at the scene soon after the blast and cordoned off the madarsah building. Injured and corpses were rushed to Mayo Hospital, Ganga Ram Hospital and other nearby hospitals.Police have also arrested two suspected persons from outside the seminary.
Congratulations to Taliban supporters namely Imran Khan, Munawar Hasan, Fazlur-Rehman, General Hamid Gul, Roedad Khan, Hamid Mir, Ansar Abbasi, Javed Chaudhry, Orya Maqbool Jan, Irfan Siddiqui, Dr Shahid Masood, Dr Israr Ahmed, Dr Zakir Naik, Dr Farhat Hashmi and General Aslam Beg.
Anti-Taliban cleric killed in Pakistan blast
Fri Jun 12, 2009
LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) - A prominent anti-Taliban Pakistani Muslim cleric was killed on Friday in a suicide bomb attack in the city of Lahore, police said.
In another blast at around the same time, a suicide car-bomber set off explosives near a mosque in the north-western town of Nowshera, killing at least three people, police said.
The blasts came as Pakistani forces stepped up attacks on militants across the northwest after the U.S. House of Representatives approved tripling aid to Pakistan to about $1.5 billion a year for the next five years.
Security forces have made progress in more than a month of fighting against Taliban militants in the Swat valley, northwest of Islamabad, and in recent days have begun operations in several other parts of the region.
The militants have responded with a series of bomb attacks.
Moderate cleric Sarfraz Naeemi was attacked at his mosque complex just after leading Friday prayers.
"Unfortunately, Maulana Sarfraz Naeemi has been martyred," Lahore police chief Pervez Rathore told Reuters.
In Nowshera, in North West Frontier Province, three people were killed and more than 20 were wounded, police said.
Rising Islamist violence has raised fears for Pakistan's stability and for the safety of its nuclear arsenal but the offensive in Swat has reassured the United States about its commitment to the global campaign against militancy.
Pakistan is a vital security ally for the United States as it struggles to stabilise neighbouring Afghanistan and defeat al Qaeda.
U.S. officials said on Thursday insurgent violence in Afghanistan had accelerated sharply alongside the arrival of new U.S. troops, reaching its highest level since 2001.
U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director Leon Panetta said he believed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was hiding in Pakistan and he hoped joint operations with Pakistani forces would find him.
(Additional reporting by Zeeshan Haider, Hasan Mehmood, Javed Hussain and Augustine Anthony; Writing by Robert Birsel; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)
A prominent anti-Taliban Pakistani cleric has been killed in one of two blasts which have gone off in Pakistan.
The blast in Lahore killed a moderate anti-Taliban cleric and injured many more
Maulana Sarfraz Naeemi was killed in a suicide bomb attack in Lahore, police have confirmed.
The moderate cleric was attacked at his mosque complex just after leading Friday prayers.
Mr Naeemi was nationally recognised for being critical of the Taliban.
A separate car-bomb blast also killed at least three people near a mosque in the northwestern town of Nowshera. Police chief Abdullah Khan said the second bomb had wounded 32 people "and we fear that some of them are dead."
In Lahore, 10 people were injured outside Jamia Naeemia mosque.
The blasts came as Pakistani forces stepped up attacks on militants across the northwest after the US House of Representatives decided to triple their aid to Pakistan.
"Go Taliban Go" Rally in Lahore
After Jamat e Islami demonstrated a good support for Taliban on the weekend, another section of Ulema have announced to start a drive AGAINST Taliban. The ‘Go Taliban Go’ drive was announced in “Save Pakistan conference” led by Dr. Sarfraz Naeemi of Jamia Naeemia. The Ulema decided to take out a rally in the city on June 2 in support of Swat military operation against the Taliban miscreants.
The itenrary was announced by rally being taken out from Data Darbar and would end up to the Regal Chowk on The Mall. All of the Ulema present in the conference were of the strong opinion that Swat operation should be completed with its logical end. Putting weight behind the Swat operation, they also accused entities supporting Taliban and termed it against country’s solidarity. They also accused and challenged Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM) chief Maulana Sufi Muhammad who stated Pakistan as Un-Islamic and maligned two nation theory. Other Ulema present at the conference were Syed Mahfooz Mashhadi, Maulana Hanfi Saifi, Maulana Moinuddin, Shahid Husain Gardezi and others.
Pakistan Clerics Speak Out Against Taliban `The military must eliminate the Taliban once and for all`, said Mufti Sarfraz Naeemi, a senior cleric said.
Pakistan's moderate clerics, for years mute in the face of growing Islamist influence, are mobilising support for the government as it battles the Taliban, warning that militants could take over the country.
Most of predominantly Islamic Pakistan's 160 million people are moderate Muslims, but for years they have been reluctant to speak out against the spread of the hardline Taliban.
Not any more.
"The military must eliminate the Taliban once and for all," Mufti Sarfraz Naeemi, a senior cleric of the moderate Barelvi branch of Sunni Muslims, told Reuters.
"Otherwise they will capture the entire country which would be a big catastrophe."
The military launched a major offensive against Taliban militants in the Swat valley, northwest of Islamabad, last week after the Taliban tried to capitalise on a February peace pact by pushing out of the valley to conquer new districts.
Pakistanis overwhelmingly supported the pact aimed at ending violence in Swat but were shocked to see the Taliban, emboldened by the deal, vowing to impose their rule across the country.
That raised alarm, not only in the United States which needs Pakistan to tackle the militants for success in Afghanistan, but also among ordinary Pakistanis, for the first time confronting the possibility the Taliban might appear in their towns.
Naeemi said the Barelvis had wanted to avoid confrontation with the Taliban so had not spoken out against aggression. But they could not stand by and let the Taliban impose their rule.
"They want people to fight one another, that's why we have kept silent and endured their oppression," Naeemi said.
"We don't want civil war ... But God forbid, if the government fails to stop them, then we will confront them ourselves."
"BATTLE FOR SURVIVAL"
Most Pakistanis are Barelvis, adherents of Islamic Sufi mysticism, who venerate saints and their shrines dotted across the country.
The austere Taliban, adherents of the Deobandi school of Islam, reject mystical Islam and recently blew up a famous shrine in the northwest, to many Pakistanis' shock.
For the first time in Pakistan, protesters have been taking to the streets to denounce the Taliban.
Barelvis have been holding anti-Taliban rallies across the country and are organising a gathering of 5,000 clerics in Islamabad on Sunday to drum up support for the military in Swat.
"We support the army operation in Swat because it is a battle for the survival and defence of Pakistan," Sahibzada Fazal Karim, leader of Jamiat-e-ulema-e-Pakistan, a moderate Islamic party, and an organiser of the weekend conference, told Reuters.
"What these militants were doing was un-Islamic. Beheading innocent people and kidnapping are in no way condoned in Islam."
A political analyst said there was a degree of self-interest in the newfound outspokenness.
"Politicians are realising there is no future for the country if the militants continue to expand their influence," said retired general and analyst Talat Masood.
"The moderate clergy is also feeling threatened because their role will be over. So everyone is trying to look at his own turf ... It's in their self-interest as well as the national interest."
Most Pakistanis, including political parties and the media, have backed the offensive in Swat, 130 km (80 miles) northwest of Islamabad, which comes after the United States accused the government of "abdicating" to the militants.
Deobandi strength grew in the 1980s thanks to an Islamisation drive by then military ruler, General Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq.
At the time, Pakistan was channelling support from the United States and Saudi Arabia to Deobandi and other radical groups battling Soviet occupiers in Afghanistan.
Ulema vow to fight Taliban if army fails
Thursday, 14 May, 2009
ISLAMABAD, May 13: Prominent religious leaders, for years mute in the face of growing hardline religious influence, are mobilising support for the government as it battles the Taliban, warning that militants could take over the country. “The military must eliminate the Taliban once and for all,” Mufti Sarfraz Naeemi, a senior scholar of the Barelvi school of thought, told Reuters. “Otherwise they will capture the entire country which would be a big catastrophe.” Mufti Naeemi said that ulema had wanted to avoid confrontation with the Taliban so had not spoken out against ‘aggression’. But they could not stand by and let the Taliban impose their rule. “They want people to fight one another; that’s why we have kept silent and endured their oppression,” he said. “We don’t want civil war ... But God forbid, if the government fails to stop them, then we will confront them ourselves.” For the first time in the country, protesters have been taking to the streets to denounce the Taliban. They have been holding anti-Taliban rallies across the country and are organising a gathering of 5,000 ulema in Islamabad on Sunday to drum up support for the military in Swat. “We support the army operation in Swat because it is a battle for the survival and defence of Pakistan,” Sahibzada Fazal Karim, leader of Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan, a moderate party, and an organiser of the weekend conference, told Reuters. “What these militants were doing was un-Islamic. Beheading innocent people and kidnapping are in no way condoned in Islam.”—Reuters
Clerics Back Pakistani Offensive Against Taliban
By ZAHID HUSSAIN in Islamabad and MATTHEW ROSENBERG in New Delhi
MAY 12, 2009
Pakistani soldiers battling Taliban fighters in the country's northwestern mountains are getting support from more moderate Muslim clerics who say they, too, fear a militant takeover.
The clerics hail from the more tolerant Barelvi Muslim tradition whose followers in Pakistan far outnumber the extremist strain preached by the Taliban and their allies in al Qaeda and other Islamist militant groups in the country. But the Barelvis have usually offered only passive resistance to extremists, reflecting their more inclusive version of Islam.
Now, some prominent Barelvi clerics are publicly supporting the broad military offensive launched last week against the Taliban in the Swat Valley and, in one case, offering to send volunteers to fight. The moves are being greeted as a sign that a growing number of Pakistanis are beginning to realize just how fragile the situation has become after years of ignoring or denying the militant threat.
The offensive in Swat continued Monday with Pakistani fighter jets strafing Taliban positions as soldiers pounded them with artillery. Pakistan's Interior Ministry chief, Rehman Malik, said 700 insurgents had been killed in the past four days, a significantly higher number than previous figures given by the military.
The United Nations said some 360,000 refugees have already fled Swat and two neighboring districts, adding to the half a million Pakistanis who were uprooted in past offensives against the Taliban in the northwest and remain homeless.
Diplomats, analysts and some Pakistani officials say they fear images of refugees in squalid camps could turn public opinion against the offensive and prompt the army to pull back.
That's happened in the past, and support for the Swat offensive is far from universal, especially among influential religious leaders in this overwhelmingly Muslim nation of 175 million people.
Pakistan's largest religious political party, Jamaat-e-Islami, which straddles the country's competing religious traditions, has demanded the government resume peace talks with the Taliban. Many of the more extreme leaders from the Deobandi and Wahhabi schools that inspire the Taliban and al Qaeda, respectively, support the militants.
But the Barelvis, perhaps trying to ride a wave of public anger over the Taliban's brutal rule of Swat, are pushing the government to sustain its assault on the Taliban in the valley and eventually widen it to other regions under the sway of the militants.
"We can't allow the Taliban to take over the country," said Mufti Sarfraz Ahmed Naeemi, a leading Sunni cleric who heads the Darul Uloom Naimia, a major Islamic seminary. Mr. Naeemi is among a group of Barelvi clerics and political parties that on Friday announced the formation of a council whose goal, they said, would be to fight spreading "Talibanization" in Pakistan.
"Taliban are destroying our sacred religious places and killing religious leaders. They are working on an anti-Islam agenda," Mr. Naeemi said in a telephone interview.
The U.S. pushed hard for Pakistan to move against the Taliban in Swat. But the Barelvi leaders cautioned that their support for the offensive shouldn't be read as backing for the U.S., which remains deeply unpopular among the vast majority of Pakistanis, many of whom see the fight against the Taliban as America's war.
The Barelvis, whose tradition is drawn from Islamic Sufi mysticism, believe humans can connect to the divine through holy men or saints, many of whose tombs are now important shrines.
The Taliban and al Qaeda, in contrast, view such practices as heresy and have repeatedly destroyed or taken over Sufi shrines. Such actions have angered many in Pakistan. But the clerics, like most Pakistanis, had until now remained largely silent. But with hundreds of thousands refugees now fleeing Swat, many of them telling tales of the Taliban's harsh justice -- floggings, beheadings and general intimidation -- there's a growing public backlash, and top civilian and military officials say they believe they now have the public support needed for a sustained offensive in Swat.
"It is against Islamic tenants to enforce Shariah through violence," said Maulana Sarwat Qadri, chief of Sunni Tehrik, a group that in the late 1990s and early 2000s tried to retake mosques it said had been taken over by Deobandi and Wahhabi adherents. Sunni Tehrik had since fallen dormant, but it formed a new political wing over the weekend, and, said Mr. Qadri in a telephone interview, "We are ready to send volunteers to fight along the military against Taliban."
Barelvis, like the Taliban, are from Pakistan's Sunni Muslim majority. The Taliban has also targeted the country's Shiite Muslim minority -- who account for about 20% of the population -- repeatedly attacking their mosques.
Non-Muslims have come under assault, too. About 50 Sikhs were expelled from a tribal area by the Taliban last month for refusing to pay special taxes imposed on non-Muslims under the Taliban's Shariah. And in Swat, about 800 Hindus and Sikhs have fled the valley.
Write to Matthew Rosenberg at firstname.lastname@example.org