Source: News Bharati English20 Mar 2016 20:18:14

New Delhi, March 20: At the gathering at Ram Lila Maidan in New Delhi, Pakistan’s Muhammad Tahir ul-Qadri, who had led a massive protest against Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif regime in Islamabad one-and-half years back, said use of religion as a front to promote terrorism should not at all be tolerated and both countries should join hands to defeat the menace.The four-day World Sufi Forum, inaugurated by the Prime Minister and being attended by delegates from 22 countries, concluded today with the declaration of the 25-point agenda by AIUMB. The Forum was started by Hazrat Syed Mohammad Ashraf, a prominent spiritual master from Kichawchcha Sharif, a famous Sufi shrine in Ambedkar Nagar in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

Expressing serious concern over growing efforts to radicalise young minds, he also called for urgent measures such as introduction of counter-radicalisation curriculum in schools, colleges, universities, madrassas and institutions run by religious bodies to educate youths about terrorism and extremism. “Time has come for India and Pakistan to engage in talks with an open heart leaving behind nearly 70 years of hostility to resolve all outstanding issues as well as to rid the region of terrorism”, he said today.

Strongly pitching for dialogue between India and Pakistan, Qadri said both the countries must decide whether they want to continue nearly seven decade hostility between each other which had devastating consequences or would prefer a path of peace, economic growth and development.

Asked to comment on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's trip to Lahore, he refused, saying the relationship between people of the two countries should improve. "Both the countries have genuine concerns, may be some of them are right, some of them are wrong. May be some of them are just accusations. But some of them have content. That is why I emphasise on a dialogue with open mind and open heart," he said.

"If they decide this basic point, then only a new chapter of good relations can start. Proper dialogues should start between the governments at different levels and finally at top level. All issues which always remained the basis of tension should be discussed with an open heart and mind," Qadri told news agency PTI.

The 65-year-old cleric said all issues including Kashmir, Mumbai terror attack and Pathankot attack should be discussed. "We are wasting lot of our energy, budgets, resources, time and mental faculty because of our hostile relationships. This should end."

Also, the All India Ulama and Mashaikh Board (AIUMB) president Syed Mohammad Ashraf asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to "rectify historical blunders" and pay heed to the community's demands including initiation of measures to tackle the trend of replacing Sufism by extremist ideologies. Speaking at a mass congregation marking the conclusion of the first World Sufi Forum here, Ashraf said there has been a lack of representation for majority of the Muslim populace on "key positions" and urged the government to look into it.

At the gathering at Ram Lila Maidan, AIUMB also released a 25-point declaration, in which it urged governments across the world including the Modi dispensation to "revive" Sufism in their bid to combat terrorism. "There is a sense of fear among Muslims due to riots.

Government should alleviate this fear and Union Home Ministry should spell out what steps have been taken with regard to all the small or big communal incidents and riots that have taken place so far in different parts of the country," the declaration reads. The outfit denounced "every course" of sectarianism and described it as "threat to India's solidarity". "We request all governments of the world, especially the Government of India, to extend full cooperation for the revival of Sufism," it added.

On India affected by terror infrastructure operating from Pakistani soil, he called terrorism enemy of mankind and said both countries must agree that it is their common foe. "Terrorism is an enemy of mankind in every aspect and I will feel it will be a great success if India and Pakistan sit together and accept that we have a common enemy.

"If you see 70 years have passed and the position is that India considers Pakistan its enemy Pakistan considers India its enemy. These things have been ingrained in the minds of people. First of all they have to say no to it. They have to agree that terrorism is the common enemy," said the cleric.

The region, Qadri said, will be deprived of development if terrorism is not uprooted, he said demanding strong action against those using religion to support terrorism. He did not give a specific reply when asked about terror groups operating from Pakistani soil.

The World Sufi Forum attempts to provide a platform for Ulama, Mashaikh, scholars, writers and academics to contribute to the causes of "peace, dialogue, education and knowledge production". Through seminars, conferences, panel discussions and publications, it brings together those interested in fostering peacemaking, countering extremism and participating in interfaith harmony.

A statement from the World Sufi Forum organisers said, "With the World Sufi Forum, Hazrat Syed Ashraf embarked on an ambitious mission: providing a space for enlightening discourses on Sufiism and spirituality in Islam and building a platform for intra and inter-community dialogue on a wide variety of religious, social, cultural and ethical issues."