MMA’s legacy no more in NWFP?

Lip service?: MMA’s legacy no more in NWFP
* Offices of Nafaz-e-Sharia obsolescent after formation of caretaker setup
By Daud Khattak: Daily Times, December 10, 2007

PESHAWAR: Some offices set up by the erstwhile provincial government of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) for the implementation of Sharia in NWFP have become obsolete soon after the formation of the incumbent caretaker setup in the province.

Dafatir Nafaz-e-Sharia or offices for the implementation of Sharia (Islamic law) in the upscale cantonment area between the Afghan consulate and Peshawar Corps headquarters buildings is one such office which is no more used for meetings and other activities.

Although a signboard bearing Dafatir Nafaz-e-Sharia is still erected at the entrance of the compound, which was once residence of divisional commissioner, the offices are vacant and even the guards and gardeners have been transferred to other departments from there, Daily Times has learnt. During the MMA government in NWFP, leaders of the allied parties used to gather at the venue to hold meetings to discuss the implementation of Sharia in the province.

However, the deserted view of the offices reveal that the then government’s claims regarding much-hyped Sharia implementation were a lip-service as it could not institutionalise the process.

Asked why the offices are not functioning as before, an influential leader of the religious alliance retorted, “Better to pose the question to the government.”

He did not respond when questioned if the offices were set up without any legal protection, as these were closed by the caretaker government at the stroke of a pen.

Contacted for comments as to why the offices were closed, district nazim Ghulam Ali, who is also a provincial leader of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), said it was the provincial subject and did not belong to the district government.

However, provincial caretaker Information Minister Imtiaz Hussain Gilani when approached for comments by the telephone, said he did not know about the Sharia offices at all.

Mufti Ghulamur Rahman of the JUI-F was the chairman of the Nafaz-e-Shariat council during the MMA government. Other prominent MMA leaders who used to attend meetings at the now almost obsolete Nafaz-e-Sharia offices included Senator Gul Naseeb, Mufti Kefayatullah, Maulana Ataul Haq Darwesh and Shujaul Mulk.

An official, requesting anonymity, said there were telephone lines, fax machines and computers, but all that has now been removed. “The rooms are vacant and no one visits the offices now,” he said.

Soon after coming into power in the province some five years back, some activists of the MMA removed the billboards showing women or torn apart and blackened the faces of the female celebrities or models showed in advertisements of various companies.

Owners of some garment shops in several posh commercial areas and markets had also received warnings from baton-wielding youths to remove the mannequins from their shops or at least cover them with a piece of cloth.

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