Close on the heels of communal clashes that claimed at least a dozen lives, leaders of the Shia and Sunni sects in Pakistan have framed a code of conduct to avert sectarian confrontations.
Leaders of the Sunni Barelvi and Ahl-e-Hadith sects and the Shia Ahl-e-Tashih sect yesterday signed the nine-point code of conduct in the presence of a government minister and other officials and vowed to end bickering between the two sides.
At least 12 people from both sects died in sectarian clashes that erupted during the Islamic holy month of Muharram on November 15. Curfew was clamped and the army called out at several places, including the garrison city of Rawalpindi, to quell the violence. The federal government has been trying since then to bring together clerics of different schools of thoughts and make them agree to follow the code of conduct.
Pakistan Ulema Council chief Hafiz Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi said religious leaders had agreed to devise a monitoring mechanism to enforce the code of conduct. "This forum will take action against those violating it," he said.
According to the code, Shia clerics will not disgrace the Khulfa-e-Rashideen or four Caliphs, the companions of Prophet Mohammed. Clerics and scholars from any sect will not declare anyone a 'kafir' or non-believer or describe anyone as 'wajib-ul-qatl' or liable to be killed. There will be a complete ban on using loudspeakers, except for making the call to prayer and for sermons in Arabic.
Both sects will not be allowed to deliver hate speeches or remarks, raise slogans or publish hate materials in the form handbills, books, press releases, pamphlets or wall chalking.
The sects will hold joint gatherings to promote inter-sect harmony, cooperation and affection.
Clerics of all sects should show respect to each other and present any problem to the appropriate forum instead of reacting emotionally. Clerics should also avoid exhibiting arms and forbid their followers from doing so.
The code of conduct further states that all sects will be duty bound to protect the rights of non-Muslim minorities and safeguard their places of worship. The sects will also follow and implement the code in true letter and spirit.