Pakistan's sorcerers promise the world, for a price

Pakistan's sorcerers promise the world, for a price
A cure-all to some and for others a scam that preys on people's superstitions, the sorcerers continue to thrive despite the disapproval of some hardline schools of Islam.

ISLAMABAD - From winning the heart of your beloved to getting a promotion at work, Pakistan's practitioners of black magic say there is nothing they can't help you achieve - for a humble donation.

The centuries-old practice is rooted in mystic Sufi lore and has traditionally been the domain of pirs (saints) and aamils (sorcerers).

A cure-all to some and for others a scam that preys on people's superstitions, the sorcerers continue to thrive despite the disapproval of some hardline schools of Islam.

"Contact us immediately to get all the jobs done while sitting at home," screams one classified advert featured in several newspapers.

It offers an answer for all manner of problems: "failure in love, overcoming the boss, getting a job transfer, foreign travel, lack of marriage proposals and a chance to win a lottery."

Pir Ali Hussain Shah, the 55-year-old "saint" referred to in the notice says the correct incantation from the Quran is key to working miracles.

"Disease, financial or family problems or any other problem of the world, can be solved in one night of recitation," Shah told AFP.

Shah said he was working for the good of humanity and providing the service on a charitable basis - though he admitted satisfied followers were generous with their gifts.

"People who are happy with my work and get solace from their worries, themselves come and give offerings in cash and kind which I spend on langar (charity food handouts)," Shah said.

The expensive Sunday newspaper ad was paid for by one such follower grateful for Shah's help in getting married to a man in Britain despite her parents' opposition, he said.

"The girl's parents did not want her to marry a British-Pakistani man she liked. She contacted me and I did the recitation and told her that within seven days she will get married and it happened."

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