ISLAMABAD - Expressing serious concern over any plan to target religious seminaries in the garb of operation against militants, Majlis-i-Ulema-i-Islam, an umbrella organisation belonging to Deoband school of thought, has asked the government to come out clear on the issue with the demand of punitive action against those involved in spreading sectarian hatred and involved in publishing and disseminating literature containing such material.

Announcing the decisions of Ulema belonging to Deoband school of thought after the meeting here on Tuesday, JUI-F chief Moulana Fazlur Rehman said that the Ulema gathering would extend all-out support to government against terrorism but cautioned against any coercive action against religious seminaries in the name of operation against militants.

Fazl said that after the agreement reached between Wafaqul Madris with government in 2004 to regulate the registration and syllabus of Madris (seminaries) the debate on regulating these seminaries became irrelevant and asked the government to enforce the agreement in true letter and spirit and take action against those violating it.

To a question about Ch. Nisar Ali Khan that only 10 per cent of seminaries were engaged in terrorism-related activities, Fazl termed it a sweeping statement and registration of an open FIR under which any seminary could be implicated and its management could be booked.

He demanded implementation of the agreement reached between the government and Wafaqul Madris in 2004 and those seminaries violating it or operating without registration or its building was illegally constructed on state land should be penalised.

Condemning the Peshawar school carnage in harshest terms, Moulana Fazlur Rehman said that Majlis-i-Ulema had decided to go all out to aid government in eliminating terrorism and evolving religious harmony and amity among various sects.

To a question about the establishment of military courts, he said that a special committee comprising experts would be formed to look for some legal and constitutional solution to the problem and once some constitutional way out would be found and rest of the political parties would support it then they would also extend support to it.

To another question regarding the lifting of moratorium on execution, the JUI-F chief termed it a good step adding that its application should be blanket in nature as selective application of it would create complications and invite criticism.

To a question about Altaf Hussain's statement demanding razing of Lal Masjid to ground, he smilingly said that he (Altaf Hussain) had over-reacted to the situation and he talked to him on phone telling him that it was not time to open another front.

To another question regarding the seminaries in southern Punjab, Secretary General of Majlis-i-Ulema Sari Hani Jalundari said that none of the seminaries in the area was promoting militancy and in this connection chief Minister Punjab and Rana Sanaullah had already given clarifications.