JUI-F warns against setting up of AKHS-P health facility in Chitral
Chitral/Islamabad (TP) August 30: A day after Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) provincial leaders warned against the setting up of a health facility in Chitral Town by the Aga Khan Health Service-Pakistan (AKHS-P), Deputy Coordination Officer (DCO) Chitral Naveed Ahmed ruled out the possibility that the wrangle could lead to sectarian clashes.
The AKHS-P – a non-profit and a non-governmental organization offering quality health service in Chitral, Gilgit-Baltistan and other parts of Pakistan — is planning to establish a diagnostic centre in Chitral Town on a piece of land, where an Ismaili Jammat Khana existed before it was torched during sectarian clashes back in 1982.
The Chitral DCO while talking to The Punch said that he was currently in Peshawar and the issue (JUI-F press conference) had been brought to his notice by his sub-ordinates in Chitral.
He said that once he was back to the station in Chitral, he will look into the matter. Ahmed, however, said that if the AKHS-P has obtained the no-objection certificate and completed other legal requirements for the construction of the health facility, a handful of people could not be allowed to create hurdles in the way of construction of a public service-oriented project.
When asked the controversy could lead to sectarian clashes, like the one in the 80s, if the AKHS-P went ahead with the project, the deputy commissioner said that no one would be allowed to take the law in their own hands and AKHS-P could carry on with the project if they have cleared all legal documents in this regard.
The DCO said that he will hold a meeting with the JUI-F leadership and the AKHS-P officials to sort out the issue amicably.
Speaking at a press conference in Chitral earlier on Thursday, JUI-F Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa General Secretary Attaul Haq Darvesh, Joint Secretary Maulana Amanullah Haqqani and others had warned that the district administration stopped the setting up of the Aga Khan diagnostic centre in Chitral Town and a planned Serena hotel in the Dolomuch area.
The JUI-F leaders had alleged that the deputy commissioner was facilitating organizations of the Aga Khan Development Network in making inroads in Sunni-dominated areas in Chitral.
They had warned that the district administration must stop the establishment of the health facility and the hotel, otherwise, they would be compelled to take to the streets and put a siege to the KP and National Assembly buildings in protest.
Maulana Haqqani and other JUI-F leaders said that Ismailis have set up butcher houses in Garam Chashma, which, according to them, was proscribed by the Islamic law, and they should be closed immediately.
The JUI-F leaders had said that if the AKHS-P wanted to set up the health facility and the hotel, they should be set up in Ismaili-dominated areas in Chitral to avoid the repetition of 1982 sectarian clashes.
Some people in Chitral while talking to The Punch said that the JUI-F was seeking a public vote by looking for divisive issues ahead of local elections in the district. They said that the JUI-F, which, otherwise, has a negligible presence in Chitral, was attempting to sow sectarian discord and polarize a peaceful and harmonized society merely for political mileage.
They expressed concerns that workers of the religious party could create sectarian trouble in the district if the provincial and the federal government did not intervene on time.
One source, on condition of anonymity, said that the land, where the diagnostic centre was being planned, belonged to Ismailis, which had not been in the use after miscreants torched the Jammat Khana in the site in 1982 sectarian clashes.
He said that since those sectarian clashes, Sunnis and Ismailis have been living peacefully but outsiders attempt to sow sectarian discord between the two sects. He feared that sectarian clashes could recur if the district administration did not take notice of the controversial press conference of the JUI-F leaders.
AKDN organizations have been running a lot of health, education and public service projects including powerhouses in Chitral without discriminating on sectarian lines, greatly facilitating in far-flung areas of Chitral, where government-led services are almost none.
Another source claimed that some senior administration officials of the AKHS-P were instigating religious parties to raise their voice against the setting up of the health facility in Chitral. The source claimed that an AKHS-P top official was bent on failing AKDN projects in Chitral and GB by embroiling them in controversial issues despite the fact that he was getting a hefty monthly salary and other perks and privileges by setting up his office in a posh hotel in Islamabad. The claim could not be verified independently, however.
Several attempts were made to reach out the JUI-F leaders and the AKHS-P officials to get their version and input on the issue, but relevant persons on both sides did not reply to phone calls and text messages.