Saturday, 27 December 2014

Arrest warrant issued against Lal Masjid cleric........

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani court on Friday issued arrest warrant against extremist cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz for threatening activists protesting outside his Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad. 

The activists were protesting the cleric's pro-Taliban stance in the wake of Peshawar massacre at a sit-in outside the mosque last week. 

The mosque came into prominence in 2007 when Pakistani army commandos stormed it for challenging the state's writ. Aziz's brother was killed in the operation, which is widely believed to have prompted retaliatory Taliban strikes on public places, mosques and military installations. Aziz was arrested while trying to escape from the mosque wearing a face veil and paraded on national TV in the same attire. He was released on bail in 2009. 

On Friday, civil judge Saqib Jawad issued the warrant against the cleric after hearing a petition of the activists, who protested outside the mosque throughout last week. 

The cleric had refused to call the terror victims martyrs and described the attack a "reaction" to the ongoing anti-Taliban operations. 

Aziz's spokesman, Hafiz Ehtisham, said his followers would resist his arrest. "Before arresting Maulana Aziz, (Prime Minister) Nawaz Sharif, (opposition figure) Imran Khan and Punjab's CM Shahbaz Sharif should be arrested,'' he said. "Maulana Aziz has decided not to handover himself to police.'' 

Activist Jibran Nasir, who organized last week's protests, warned of a "new plan" if the cleric was not arrested on Friday. 

"We demand from police that sections of Anti-terrorism Act should be included in the First Information Report (FIR) and if the cleric is not arrested by 5pm on Friday, we will announce our next line of action.'' 

Aziz had last week warned of backlash in the event of executions of convicted terrorists.