SC asks Sindh govt to explain why it converted Islamic centre into cinema
ISLAMABAD: Supreme Court Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali has asked the Sindh government to explain why it converted an Islamic centre called Al-Markaz Islami into a cinema house in Karachi.
Taking a suo motu on the application of Karachi-based JI chief Naeemur Rehman Siddiqui, a three-judge bench, headed by the chief justice, ordered the law officer of the Sindh government and the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) to submit a comprehensive reply to answer allegations levelled by the JI Karachi chief.
The case will be taken up again on May 2.
Tracing the history, the applicant recalled that the former governor of Sindh, Lt Gen S.M. Abbasi, had laid the foundation-stone of the centre on June 8, 1982, with an objective to promote Islamic traditions and culture.
The function was also attended by then Mayor of Karachi Abdus Sattar Afghani.
It was during the period of Mr Naimatullah Khan as the Mayor of Karachi that literary, religious and cultural events became a regular feature of the building. The city government allocated a handsome amount for air-conditioning plants and other fixtures and furniture to make it one of the biggest auditoriums of the city with a seating capacity of 750 people, the application said.
But in 2008 when the MQM-backed Mustafa Kamal was elected as the mayor of Karachi, the name of the building was changed from Al-Markaz Islami to centre for art and learning and even the holy scriptures written on central entrance of the auditorium were removed, the application alleged.
The city government in 2010 even set up a Shanze auditorium at the top floor of the building where alleged indecent musical or stage programmes on each evening became the order of the day, the petition said.
The building, however, was sealed in 2012 on complaints of the dwellers living around it but it again opened only after a few days, the petition regretted.
As the time passed by, a marriage hall was opened on lawns of the centre while the theatre was converted into a proper cinema house.
In August 2015, Karachi Commissioner Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui, while taking a notice over news reports, shut down the cinema, but it soon reopened to start screening movies, the application said.
Now it has been learnt that the present occupiers of the building has rented out the facility to another party on a monthly rent of Rs500,000 to convert the building into a proper cinema house, the application alleged.