Red flag in capital

Negotiations with a cleric

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Islamabad over the last few days was on tenterhooks, at least the areas in the neighbourhood of a mosque, barely a crow’s flight away from the seat of power. Maulana AbdulAziz of Lal Masjid fame was able to sneak in to the mosque and holed himself in along with female students in their dozens. According to reports he was there for two weeks. He led the last Friday prayers there as well. In the same way the H-11 Jamia Hafsa was also broken into by the Jamia students.

Capital administration, having been initially oblivious to this situation, was forced to negotiate with the cleric. As last reports came in, there was an agreement reached between the administration and the maulana. In return for vacating the mosque, he shall be offered some 20 kanal of land elsewhere to establish his seminary.

It is a matter of great relief that this time around, negotiations worked before any untoward incident happened. At the same time, the coercive method adopted by the cleric to wrest precious land from the government needs a debate. That nevertheless, the least the people of Islamabad needed was another standoff with the recalcitrant maulana. There is an agreement between the parties concerned and the maulana refers to a Supreme Court decision as well. It is important, in the interest of peace in the town, that both the parties sort it out amicably between themselves. The administration on its part need to stay extra vigilant where the maulana as is his mandate entrusted to him by the parents of the students, should focus his energies on education in a manner that behooves a religious scholar. The horrors of Lal Masjid saga of 2007 were too bloody to be repeated here. An honest introspection on both sides is needed to avoid having to put our children through that tragedy again.