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Pak cleric agrees to leave Lal Masjid after authorities promise land

ANI  |  Asia 

Ending a three-day-long standoff with the government, the deposed cleric of Lal Masjid Maulana Abdul Aziz on Sunday agreed to withdraw from the state-owned mosque after Islamabad administration assured allocation of 20 kanals of land for the establishment of Jamia Hafsa, Pakistani media reported.

The maulana is expected to leave by Tuesday, while the police force surrounding the seminary in Islamabad's H-11 has been withdrawn, Dawn reported, adding that the female students, who had entered the seminary, has already started to leave as well.

Aziz had returned to Lal Masjid around two weeks ago, reiterating his claim to be its prayer leader despite a ban on his entry in the premise. Subsequently, the administration laid siege to the area outside the mosque.

The matter turned serious on Thursday night when over a hundred female students entered the Jamia Hafsa, by breaking its official seal.

During the mediation, the maulana said that his "movement" against former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf began because the mosques in the city were being razed down and pressed that such incidents had resumed.

"There is always a way out. But this government is more politically immature and tyrant than the Musharraf regime," he said.

The Pakistan authorities have now assured him that his demands will be considered in light of the decision taken by the country's highest court.

Earlier, the maulana had said that his only demand was to implement the 2007 decision of the Pakistan Supreme Court.

In 2007, the Pakistan army had a massive military operation at the Red Mosque, in which over 100 students were killed, after reports emerged that armed militants have entered the mosque.

After the Red Mosque siege ended, the government brought down a women's seminary run by Aziz and a children's library next door.

During the operation, Aziz was arrested and was jailed up till his release in 2009.

The cleric later moved to court for possession of the vacant plots at the mosque area.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, February 10 2020. 01:31 IST