The PML-N led government last year had announced to implement synchronizing Nizam-e-Salat system (call for prayers timing) of all sects in the federal capital.
On March 4, 2015, the PML-N government had vowed to implement call for prayers system initially in Islamabad, which later would be extended to the provinces. Sardar Muhammad Yousuf, minister for religious affairs, was tasked to implement the Nizam-e-Salat system initially in Islamabad. Under the system, both calls for prayers and prayers were to be offered at a fixed time irrespective of any religious sect’s inclination or practice.
The minister for religious affairs had formed a 10-member committee, representing people of all school of thoughts and officials of the Ministry of Religious Affairs to chalk out recommendations.
However, implanting the system isn’t an easy task to be done in a country where religious leaders maintain great influence in religious affairs.
Truth Tracker moves to contact officials of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, ruling and opposition parliamentarians and independent analyst to know about the status of the promise.
The minister for religious affairs didn’t respond to telephone calls or text messages as Truth Tracker tried to seek his comments.
However, Imran Bashir Siddiqui, director media, Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, in his face-to-face interview told Truth Tracker that the ministry has done a lot of work to implement the Nizam-e-Salat system in the federal capital, Islamabad.
The minister himself, Siddiqui said had visited worship places of different school of thoughts to convince them to help implement synchronize prayers timing. He said that his ministry had considerable achievements in implementing the system.
“We have around 1,052 worship places of different sects in Islamabad and all these offer Friday prayers at 1:30pm, which is a great development,” he remarked. The minister, he said had a meeting with all the provincial chief ministers to discuss how to synchronize call for prayers timing. “It isn’t an easy job to be done because we have different religious leaders from various sects who have greater say in religious affairs,” Siddiqui added.
He said the government has succeeded to form Ulama Mashaikh Council (UMC), a body representing all school of thoughts, aimed at building religious harmony in the country.
When contacted, Sayed Akhundzada Chattan, a leading member of Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP), while referring to Nizam-e-Salat timings said that it is a good initiative of PML-N if it is implemented in letter and spirit.
“But they (PML-N) cannot implement this because they are unable to stop public gathering of banned outfits in Islamabad even. How the PML-N can forge religious harmony?” Chattan questioned.
When asked that the government said the system is somehow implemented in Islamabad, Chattan said that yes it is implemented to the level of official papers but not on the ground.
Zahid Khan, a parliamentarian from Awami National Party (ANP), said that he has not witnessed any implementation of the unified system of call for prayers because the PML-N is stuck in Panama Leaks issues, having no time to focus on problems’ solution.
“There is no such progress made to implement the system,” he added.
Dr. Arif Alvi, a lawmaker from Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI), said that the PML-N has done nothing for religious harmony. “I don’t think they (PML-N) have implemented Nizam-e-Salat timings,” he recalled.
It is imperative to implement the decision and be extended to other cities of the country, he added.
Truth Tracker also visited several mosques in Islamabad and observed that call for prayer system was not synchronized.
Mansoor Akbar Kundi, a political analyst, told Truth Tracker that all political parties including the PML-N never kept their promises hundred per cent.
Pakistan’s politics, he said are underdeveloped and democracy is never established here because there are pressure groups.
When asked whether the PML-N has fulfilled its promise to synchronize call for prayers timing in Islamabad, he said: “Never, never, zero, and even the loudspeaker is being misused instead.”
The government, he said has not achieved any progress to build religious harmony.
In the light of comments and views of official of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, opposition lawmakers and analyst, Truth Tracker finds that the PML-N promise stands broken.