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Saturday, April 1, 2023

Has Islamabad administration signed an agreement with Maulana Aziz?

The Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration has reportedly signed an agreement with Lal Masjid Khateeb Maulana Abdul Aziz. Muhammad Ahmad Ludhianvi of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat mediated between the two parties. Is it true? Read the detailed story here.

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Local media reports suggest that an agreement has been signed between the capital administration and former Lal Masjid cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz. The police have reportedly removed barricades around the mosque and withdrawn from the area. Analysts opine that an agreement with Maulana Aziz who was challenging the writ of the state raises an eyebrow.

Dawn, Pakistan’s respected English daily, reported that police and administration officials said the administration and Mr Aziz have agreed to resolve their issues and reach an agreement within two months.

This was the result of negotiations between them, mediated by ulema including Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat leader Ahmed Ludhianvi.

Under the agreement signed by the deputy commissioner and Mr Aziz, Mr Aziz and his family will vacate the mosque in three days and move to Jamia Hafsa in G-7. They will be prohibited from entering the mosque for two months, officials said.

During this time, Haroon Rasheed and others will look after the mosque’s administrative issues and the restrictions on Mr Aziz’s movement will be lifted after two months.

Neither the government nor Mr Aziz can take possession of the H-11 plot in this period, they said. Guards from each side will be stationed there and the key to the main gate of the plot will be with the administration of Jamia Hafsa.

Read More: Islamabad administration denies offering Maulana Aziz land

Mr Rasheed confirmed that Mr Aziz will vacate the mosque in three days under the agreement and that he will be banned from entering it for two months.

Agreement with Maulana Aziz: Surrender before the religious fanatics?

For many analysts, the government has once again surrendered before a cleric who was using female students as a shield. The trend, using women as a human shield to compel the state to agree on one’s extra-legal demands, may create some serious security-related challenges for the state in the long run.

Some other media reports also suggested that both sides reached an agreement and, as a result of it, the police force deployed around the mosque was withdrawn and the female students inside the seminary left the premises.

The firebrand cleric had been occupying, claiming to be the rightful prayer leader despite a ban on his entry in the premises. The capital administration had issued a notification of his removal last year, but it had failed to appoint a new prayer leader, paving the way for the cleric to enter the mosque when the administration was busy dealing with other issues.

It is worth noting that back in 2019, the Supreme Court wrapped up the Lal Masjid suo motu case after government’s assurance of awarding land for Jamia Hafsa. A two-member bench led by Justice Gulzar Ahmed, now Chief Justice of Pakistan, conducted the hearing and wrapped up the case after the government assured it would award land for the construction of the varsity.

Read More: Maulana Aziz blackmailing Islamabad administration once again?

The Attorney General (AG) submitting a sealed report pertaining to Lal Masjid and Hafsa varsity stating the report was sealed owing to the sensitivity of the issue. Justice Yahya Afridi replied that parties have a right to see the report and there exists no law for submission of sealed reports.

Justice Gulzar asked if the plot would be awarded to the varsity to which the AG replied that a 200-yard plot for construction of the varsity will be awarded. According to the previous SC order, Jamia Hafsa will be a state-owned entity.

Maulana Aziz, khateeb of Lal Masjid

Furthermore, Maulana Aziz remained khateeb of Lal Masjid from 1998 to 2004. He was arrested during the Lal Masjid operation in 2007. Later, Maulana Abdul Ghaffar was appointed as the khateeb and Amir Siddiqui the naib khateeb on a temporary basis.

In 2009, Maulana Ghaffar had left the mosque after the release of Maulana Aziz and the latter had started leading prayers in Lal Masjid till 2014 when a ban was imposed on him. Amir Siddiqui had then led prayers and three months ago was appointed the mosque’s khateeb. An official of the capital administration had acknowledged that there was no khateeb or naib khateeb at Lal Masjid after Amir Siddique was transferred two months ago.

Read More: From Maulana Abdul Aziz of Lal Masjid to Human Rights Watch!

It is worth mentioning here that the PTI’s government signed an agreement with Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), a right-wing extremist religious party, in 2018.  The agreement was signed by Dr Noorul Haq Qadri (religious affairs minister) and Raja Basharat (law minister Punjab) on behalf of the government, and by Pir Muhammad Afzal Qadri (former senior leader of the TLP) and Muhammad Waheed Noor (central chief nazim of the TLP). After the agreement, the TLP called off the protest.

Political commentators and experts suggest the state instead of signing an agreement with Maulana Aziz, take a firm position to deal with those who attempt to challenge the writ of the state. The state must ensure its supremacy under any circumstances in order to maintain its claim of being sovereign, advise analysts.