Taliban detractor Pakistani cleric to visit J&K

One of the fiercest detractors of hardline Taliban, the Canada-based Pakistani cleric Moulana Tahir-ul-Qadri, is set to arrive on his maiden visit to Kashmir on January 19.

The visit comes at a time when security analysts fear the imminent arrival of Taliban militants in the Valley as a result of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan later this year.

During his stay in Srinagar, the prominent Sufi scholar is scheduled to address a rally at the revered Hazratbal Shrine in Srinagar on January 20.

Sources told Deccan Herald that the Jammu and Kashmir government will host Qadri in Srinagar and for his rally in Hazratbal all the logistic support will be provided by the district administration.

Kashmir’s Divisional Commissioner Shailendra Kumar confirmed that the Canada-based scholar will be in the Valley on January 19, 20 and 21.

“We will provide security for his rally at Hazratbal,” he said denying that the Jammu and Kashmir government was involved in Qadri’s visit in any way.

“We will only provide him security cover and lodging because he is a scholar of international repute. We would be providing necessary security for the rally and lodging for him. Beyond that the government has no role,” Kumar added.

During his visit, Qadri is likely to host various deputations of local clerics and imams, besides addressing the members of the Minhaj-ul-Quran International Kashmir unit at the Sher-i-Kashmir International Conference Centre on the bank of famous Dal Lake.
Moulana Qadri shot into prominence last year when he organised one of the biggest political rallies in Pakistani capital Islamabad demanding electoral reform ahead of Pakistan's general election.

Like anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare in India, Qadri has been fighting against price hike, corruption, unrest, unemployment and the absence of rule of law in Pakistan. He is considered to be very close to the highest echelons of the powerful Pakistan Army and his visit to Kashmir, according to analysts, is intriguing.

“His role in back channel diplomacy efforts on Kashmir by the Nawaz Sharif-led government in Pakistan can’t be ruled out,” they said. In 2011, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir former prime minister Barrister Sultan Mehmood Choudhary had visited Srinagar on the pretext of attending a high profile marriage.

Though, initially the state government had claimed that they had no role in facilitating the visit of PoK dignitary, later Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah personally called on him and also kept a state chopper at his disposal.

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