ISLAMABAD: Security agencies have warned the government due to his links with known militant groups and his anti-government rhetoric that the resurgence of Lal Masjid cleric Abdul Aziz poses a security threat to the law and order situation in the capital.
They also stressed the need for a check on the growing number of madressahs in Rawalpindi and Islamabad who also have overt and covert links with militant groups.
A report entitled ‘Activities of Maulana Abdul Aziz Deobandi ’, forwarded to the interior ministry by the country’s primary intelligence agency, says that the “Lal Masjid mafia” has links with militant groups and land grabbers and is currently reorganising the Ghazi Force militant group spawned by his own followers after the Lal Masjid operation.
“Activities of Maulana Abdul Aziz Deobandi and Lal Masjid administration, if not checked / contained can subsequently create [a] serious law and order situation in [the] twin cities,” the report said.
The report, a copy of which is available with Dawn, highlights the links between the Taliban and the Lal Masjid cleric, stressing the importance of the Taliban choosing Maulana Abdul Aziz as a representative on the committee formed to negotiate with the government on their behalf.
The report names “notorious land grabber” Taji Khokhar as someone who has been arranging land for the construction of seminaries, funded by the Lal Masjid administration, and also assists them with their court cases. The report also names property tycoon Malik Riaz and former MNA Shah Abdul Aziz of Karak as the controversial cleric’s “sympathizers”.
Dawn tried to contact Malik Riaz’s spokesperson for a response to these allegations, but they did not care to comment.
The report says that Riaz is “financially supporting the [seminaries] of Maulana Abdul Aziz for payment of utility bills and supported the cleric in building a mosque in Bahria Town that has been renamed Jami Hafsa.
The former MNA Shah Abdul Aziz was arrested in 2009 for allegedly helping a Taliban militant escape from Islamabad. The man was said to be hiding in Maulana Abdul Aziz’s G-6 residence.
‘Lal Masjid mafia’
The report points out that a small all-girls seminary – the Jamia Syeda Summaya in Sector G-7/3 – is managed by the Lal Masjid administration and has already been renamed ‘Jamia Hafsa’. “They are reportedly planning to grab Al-Falah Mosque, located adjacent to this seminary, as the management of Al-Falah Mosque has resisted and filed a case against them in court.” Maulana Abdul Aziz Deobandi is currently residing in the same Jamia Hafsa.
Similarly, the report refers to the construction of another Jamia Hafsa branch in the Mal Pur village, against the wishes of local residents.
Residents of Mal Pur had lodged a complaint with the Islamabad deputy commissioner, signed by 181 locals, saying that the Lal Masjid management were trying to disrupt the peaceful atmosphere of their village.
The complaint by the locals said, “First, they tried to grab Jamia Masjid Quba Ghausia, [but] as a result the mosque was sealed by the administration.”
“Barelvis and Shias have been living here in peace for centuries, but the first thing they did was to create differences among our communities with the help of outsiders,” said Sibtul Hassan Bukhari, a local political activist. “What can we do except file complaints with the authorities,” he asked, rhetorically.
On the other hand, the authorities seem to prefer sticking to their traditional blame game, instead of acting as the situation demands.
ICT administration officials told Dawn that the issues such as the illegal expansion of madressahs or mosques in G-7 and other sectors is the purview of the Capital Development Authority (CDA).
“However, as far as the Mal Pur case is concerned, or any law and order situation related to Lal Masjid – we require policy guidelines from the interior ministry,” the official said.
Incidentally, a CDA spokesperson told Dawn that all encroachments are cleared with the help of ICT administration and police.
“We will look into any illegal expansion by any mosque or madersa, but without the help of the police department, no action can be taken,” he added.
Meanwhile, a former commissioner of Islamabad said that the situation has changed and the Lal Masjid cleric no longer enjoyed public sympathy.
“Al-Falah Masjid falls under the ICT’s jurisdiction and the committees of all the mosques in Islamabad are registered with ICT,” the retired commissioner said, adding, “If they failed to deliver anything now there will not be any more chances to establish the writ of law here.”
Return of the cleric
On Friday, Maulana Abdul Aziz Deobandi returned to lead the Friday congregation at the Lal Masjid and delivered a sermon demanding implementation of Sharia in the country.
With a heavy contingent of police and rangers personnel posted outside, Abdul Aziz presented a charter of demands, calling for the implementation of Sharia law in the country, the establishment of a strong committee of senior clerics to ‘Islamise’ existing laws of country and abolish traditions which, according to him, were un-Islamic.