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22 April 2018

GB Code of Conduct, Government in gridlock

The government of Gilgit-Baltistan presented the Code of Conduct in the legislative assembly where the members raised a number of objections during a heated debate. Later, the speaker referred it to a select committee of the house for further deliberation and vetting.

Whatever is its future, it has now become very clear that the government has put itself in a blind alley as far as the Code of Conduct and maintenance of peace and sectarian harmony in the region are concerned. The government’s headache had almost come to an end after head of the Shia community Agha Rahat signed the code but as the chief of the rival community Qazi Nisar raised objections and demanded modifications in the documents.

With this, ministers jumped into the foray to persuade Qazi Nisar to review his stance and reports say the government had decided to remove him and appoint another Khateeb of the central mosque in the city so that the Code of Conduct could be made non-controversial. However, all these efforts turned out to be fruitless and due to Qazi Nisar’s opposition, the matter may linger on for months.

Qazir Nisar has formed a committee of religious leaders from the region and it has been tasked to take steps to make the Code of Conduct acceptable to all and the decision of the committee will also be acceptable to Qazi Nisar.

There are also reports that Qazir Nisar has expressed no-confidence on the Masjid board due to which there are a number of rumours doing the round in the region. On the other hand, for the last over one month the mosques of both the sects remain closed and during a session of the legislative assembly it was also stated that closure of worship places for so long was not justified. The members said that due to the acts of some anti-social elements the whole people of the city should not be punished by closing the doors of the worship places on them. Some members during the debate also suggested that the contentious sections of the Code of Conduct should be removed and its acceptance should be linked with the approval of the Council of Islamic Ideology.

Taking part in the debate, Mirza Hussain said if the already existing laws were not of use what would be the benefit of the new anti-terrorism laws. The law minister said if we look at the matter without prejudice, the Code of Conduct had solutions to many of our problems. He also said the government was serious in giving legal shape to the code. The chief minister on the occasion said the Masajid board was empowered to run the affairs of the worship places and to appoint their Khateebs, adding the government never interfered in their affairs. He said the government had tried its best to resolve all the issues but there were impediments on the way.

The most crucial of them was that to get the consent of both Agha Rahat and Qazi Nisar. He said Ahle Tashih board succeeded in this regard but as the Ahle Sunnat was not that effective to perform the task easily. The chief minister said that the Code of Conduct might not be acceptable to all sections at its present form and therefore there might be a need to revisit it. He said there would be a middle ground after holding talks with the Ahle Sunnat group in this regard.

D.J.Mathal has contributed to this story