Gilgit-Baltistan: Code of Conduct for Prayer Leaders in Gilgit

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Gilgit (ET): The Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) government has linked the opening of the mosques sealed in the aftermath of sectarian violence with the acceptance of the code of conduct that bars prayer leaders from making hate speeches.

The code of conduct, prepared by a parliamentary peace committee, binds prayer leaders of both central mosques not to malign each other’s beliefs or to use foul language against the rival sect’s revered personalities. It states that prayer leaders and their deputies should not issue inflammatory decrees, especially during Friday and Eid sermons.

Clerics will not demand a share in government jobs and other privileges for their respective sects under the new code of conduct. If they violate it, they will be liable to be tried under the anti-terrorism act, the code states.

The peace committee comprising Adviser to the Prime Minister Attaullah Shahab, G-B Legislative Assembly, Deputy Speaker Jamil Ahmed, Member G-B Council Amjad Hussain, Adviser Forests and Wildlife Aftab Haider and others was constituted by the government in the wake of sectarian bloodshed that led to the closure of central mosques of both sects in Gilgit. Over 20 people were killed and scores of others were injured last month.

“The code of conduct aims to achieve long-term peace in the region,” said Hussain on Tuesday.

The parliamentary committee on Monday handed over the code of conduct to the Masjid Board that is represented by 20 members, 10 each from Shia and Sunni sects, who will be responsible for ensuring that the code is implemented.

According to a source privy to the board’s affairs, central mosques of Sunni and Shia sects will only be opened if the clerics guarantee they will not issue decrees condemning the other sect. “What has been banned is foul language against revered personalities besides branding each other infidel,” said the source. The board will take a final decision today in this connection, he added.

The Masjid Board is responsible for implementation of the 15-point code of conduct which is binding on prayer leaders in Gilgit. “If they refuse to accept the conditions, the mosques will remain closed for an indefinite period,” he said.

Following sectarian bouts in early April, the government sealed the doors of central mosques, barring people from offering prayers there.

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