Efforts to build peace and amity must continue, said one of the two clerics from Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah, on returning home from Pakistan where they had gone missing under mysterious circumstances. Despite the hardship faced in the last few days, the two clerics from Delhi’s iconic shrine, are filled with anything but acrimony. “Whatever we suffered during this time, should not mean that India and Pakistan should have another reason to feel bitter about each other. In fact, the efforts to build peace and amity must continue even more,” Sufi cleric Nazim Ali Nizami Nizamuddin Head Priest said in an interview.
Ali Nizami and 80-year-old Syed Asif Nizami, ‘Sajjadanashin’ of the holy shrine were given a warm reception at the Nizamuddin mausoleum, where special prayers were offered to “thank the Almighty” for their return. “We are Sufis, and Sufism teaches us the message of love (‘Paigam-e-Mohabbat’). We had gone to Pakistan to spread that message. Some people may not have liked our message. But, I will again go to Pakistan, and go there with greater resolve,” he said.
News reports had claimed the two clerics were detained by Pakistan’s spy agency ISI on suspicion of their links with India’s external spy agency RAW and Muttahida Qaumi Movement in that country. Pakistani newspaper Ummat had in a report claimed that the clerics worked for RAW and MQM, an organization of Muslims who migrated from India to Pakistan after partition and has often been locked in confrontation with the establishment there, a charge vehemently rejected by the cleric.
“The purpose of the visit was to visit the shrine of Baba Farid and Data Darbar. I keep visiting Pakistan, but my uncle (Asif) was visiting after 26 years to meet his nearly 90-year-old sister in Karachi,” Ali Nizami said.
He appealed to both India and Pakistan to increase people-to-people contact as part of peace-building efforts. “I would even call to both New Delhi and Islamabad to increase the number of visas so that more and more people can travel and know each other,” he added. The two clerics had gone to Lahore on March 8 but disappeared in the middle of last week following which India took up the issue with Islamabad. They were offloaded from Karachi-bound Shaheen Airlines on March 14 at the Allama Iqbal International Airport, Lahore, the Pakistani sources had said.