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Karachi: DHA residents oppose move to cede control of area mosques

Residents of Defence have opposed the move of the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) to cede control of mosques that full under its jurisdictions. Under the new DHA plan, control of seven mosques managed by the authority has been given to residents’ committees, with DHA claiming that the move was made to lessen the authority’s financial and administrative obligations.

DHA residents are concerned about the security, safety, and administrative affairs of the mosques of their area, especially after they are no longer controlled by the DHA. They believe that since the DHA is used to collecting a separate amount from its member-residents for managing 15 mosques, it should not Òrun away’ from this important civic obligation.

Defence Society Residents’ Association President and former federal minister Captain Haleem Siddiqui said that it is utterly unwise on the part of the DHA to cede control of its mosques, as it could lead to sectarianism, division, and indiscipline in the affairs related to mosques and their management.

“If the DHA administration is not there to control and manage affairs of the mosques then the vacuum would be filled by certain groups, which would create clash of interests among the unscrupulous elements,” he said.

Siddiqui said that the mosques were built by DHA to benefit its residents, and before taking any decision on their affairs, residents should have been consulted and taken into confidence. ÒNo such process took place, and obviously now we are concerned with the situation. The DHA has been undertaking various projects and developments work beyond its perceived realm, so at least it should be doing to manage well its mosques,” he said.

DHA Administrator Brigadier Khalid Tirmizi meanwhile maintained that since the authority’s move has caused reservations among the residents of the area, they have put on hold plans to hand over the rest of the mosques to similar residents’ committees of theirs. Tirmizi told The News that ultimately it would be ideal if all services and amenities run by DHA are handed over to the cantonment board or residents’ committees. He said that being developers or builders of the area, it is not the prerogative of the DHA to run and manage services such as water and sewerage, horticulture, and mosques.

It is worth remembering that the DHA has been facing a financial crisis since the completion of its new storm water drainage system, and has been seeking to jettison its various municipal, civic, amenity, and administrative, obligations in the area, mainly by transferring them to Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC), the municipal authority of the area.

According to Tirmizi, there are several other mosques in Defence which are run by civilians, and these DHA mosques could also be run by the residents. He said that seven mosques have been handed over to the residents’ committees, and since the transfer of their control, they had been managed without any problem.

“Ultimately we would hand over all the DHA mosques to similar residents’ committees,” he said. “We have retained the Tooba Mosque as it is regarded as an icon of the DHA due to its grand presence in the area,” said Brig Tirmizi, adding that this move would provide due relief to the DHA from its financial obligations. “Ultimately we would not charge fees for running the mosques from the residents after handing over all the mosques,” he informed.

Former DHA Director Religious Affairs Brig (retd) Dr Foyouzur-Rahman Jadoon said that till 2005, when he had been with the DHA, there was no shortage of funds to manage and administer mosques of the neighbourhood. “During my tenure with the DHA, the number of mosques managed by the authority rose to 20 and we even took into fold non-DHA mosques of the area, whose private administrations had been facing difficulties in managing them,” he said.

“We had plenty of funds in our department and used to disburse salaries to four caretakers, besides prayer leader and Muezzin associated with each of the DHA mosque and this practice should have been continued,” he said. “It was a great service being rendered by the DHA by managing these mosques and I don’t think the DHA should abandon this tradition,” said the former DHA official.

Mosques retained by DHA

Masjid-e-Tooba – Phase-II, Masjid-e-Mustafa Phase-I, Masjid-e-Abul Qasim Phase-I, Masjid-e-Arafat Phase-VIII, Masjid-e-Humza at Phase-VIII, Masjid-e-Khadija Tul Kubra Phase-VII, Masjid-e-Zubair Phase-VII extension, and Masjid-e-Saad Bin Abi Waqas in Phase-I

Mosques under residents’ control

Mosques handed over to resident committees: Masjid Umer Farooq, Masjid Usman Ghani Phase V (extension), Masjid Faheem, Masjid Rahman, Masjid Ali, Masjid Ibrahim Phase IV, Masjid Abu Bakr Phase II

Source: The News

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