ISLAMABAD - Maulana Fazal ur Rehman Khalil, an extreme right radical cleric who has been placed by the United States on its terror watch list, has announced his support for Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf for the upcoming July 25 elections.
Senior PTI leader Asad Umar first announced through his official Facebook page that Fazal ur Rehman Khalil along with his several colleagues and religious scholars has announced to join PTI. The post in Urdu said that Khalil would work to strengthen steps to make Pakistan a real Islamic democratic state and he would also play a role in the election campaign for Asad Umar.
Asad Umar is contesting election from Islamabad’s NA-54, a National Assembly constituency, and is being portrayed by his party as the future finance minister of the country if it came into power as a result of July 25 election.
As the news of Maulana Khalil’s entry into PTI became viral on the social media, Asad Umar made some amendments in his post and said that Fazal ur Rehman Khalil along with a delegation of religious scholars has announced his support for him and PTI’s another candidate from Rawalpindi’s NA-61 Aamer Mehmood Kiyani. He said that Maulana Khalil has announced his support for PTI’s two candidates from NA-54 and NA-61.
Umar also posted 21 photographs of his meeting with the delegation of religious scholars led by Khalil on his Facebook photo album titled “Religious Elders Support for NA-54”.
Maulana Khalil belongs to district Dera Ismail Khan of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and now head its own religious group — Ansar ul Ummah which is also on the US terror list. He is the founder of Harkatul Mujahideen (HuM), a militant group that has been designated as a terrorist organisation by the United States. In 2014, US Treasury Department had also placed Khalil on its terrorist watch list. After HuM banning, he had formed Anwar ul Ummah.
Asad Umar while talking to The Nation admitted that an inexperienced office-bearer of PTI has mistakenly posted on his official Facebook about Khalil’s entry into PTI and the same has been corrected now. Maulana Khalil is no more on the Fourth Schedule, a list of proscribed individuals and maintained by the federal government, he said. “I had met Maulana Khalil for the first time three years ago and like him for his work on the interfaith harmony,” he said.
Umar added that Khalil was a great opponent of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and that is the reason that Indian media was unduly giving coverage to the announcement of his support only for two candidates of PTI. Khalil has a positive role in the society and also worked for the preparation of historical Paigham-e-Pakistan document — a narrative and decree against terrorism and extremism issued by muftis and religious scholars of all schools of Islamic thought of the country.
Khalil in the past also remained part of the Defence of Pakistan Council (DPC), a coalition of around 40 political and religious parties as well as groups that was formed in 2011 to push the then government for closing of NATO supply routes to Afghanistan and not to grant India most-favoured nation status.
He also runs a religious seminary in Islamabad and enjoys close links with a number of religious leaders and heads of the religio-political parties of the country.
Cleric on US terror list ‘announces support for PTI’