Controversial cleric being released today -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Controversial cleric being released today

PESHAWAR: Mufti Munir Shakir, purportedly picked up by intelligence agencies in May last year after his expulsion from Khyber Tribal Agency for his alleged involvement in instigating sectarian disputes, is due to be released today (Monday), informed sources told The News.

Munir Shakir was declared untraced in the list of 257 missing people submitted to the Sindh High Court by the Crisis Management Cell of the Ministry of Interior on August 16, 2007.

When contacted, Fata Security Secretary Arbab Muhammad Arif expressed his ignorance about the development.

He also refused to comment on the government’s line of action if the cleric happened to return to the troubled agency after his release.

Two religious groups – Lashkar-e-Islam and Ansarul Isalm – are still at loggerheads in the remote Tirah Valley of the tribal agency.

The Mufti had entered into a bitter dispute with Pir Saifur Rehman, an Afghan cleric residing in the Khyber agency for the last more than two decades, in 2005.

Both the clerics had established their private FM radio channels in the agency that aired fiery speeches against each other.

The government in its bid to avert any clash between their supporters had constituted a 300-member tribal Jirga, comprising elders from all the seven tribal agencies in January 2006, which had suggested expulsion of both the clerics from the Khyber agency.

Complying with the Jirga verdict, Pir Saifur Rehman got settled in Lahore after his expulsion while Mufti was reportedly rounded up by intelligence agencies from Jinnah International Airport, Karachi.

The situation in the tribal agency, however, deteriorated following their expulsion and

the leaderless supporters of both the clerics went into armed conflicts with each other that claimed more than 100 lives until now.

Heads of both the conflicting groups in the agency – Haji Mangal Bagh and Maulana Mehboob – profess the same sect and remained supporters of the Mufti in the past. The latter is however backed by the supporters of Saifur Rehman.

Since the expulsion of the Mufti, his supporters have held a number of rallies including some in the provincial capital demanding his return to the agency. Protest was also observed on August 14 this year and black flags were hoisted in Bara.
Source: The News
Date:8/20/2007