Lal Masjid denies Nisar claim of written apology on APS remarks

Updated February 23, 2015

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Maulana Abdul Aziz. — AFP/File
Maulana Abdul Aziz. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: A Lal Masjid spokesperson denied on Monday a government claim that chief cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz issued a written apology to the capital city police over his implied defence of the Dec 16 attack on the Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar.

Spokesperson Hafiz Ehtisham Ahmed told DawnNews that Maulana Abdul Aziz has not submitted any written apology to the police and rejected the claim made by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan that Aziz has tendered a written apology as "baseless".

Read: Lal Masjid’s expansionism, militant links alarms agencies

"It is a baseless story that there is a written apology...Was there a case against him regarding his [APS] remarks in the police? Then why should he submit an apology to the police?" the spokesperson said.

Ehtisham said that Maulana Aziz had apologised on a private news channel a day or two after making the statement about the APS attack, and added, “There is no need for another apology after that."

“Maulana Aziz clearly said that the attack on APS Peshawar was a grave tragedy and such incidents should not happen in the future. Does this statement by him not count as condemnation?” said the spokesperson.

Also read: Maulana Abdul Aziz under house arrest?

He claimed that Maulana Aziz has repeatedly condemned the incident. “Maulana Aziz appeared on a private TV and apologised for what he had said in his initial interview.”

Ehtisham said that after giving these statements there is no need left for any further apology to police or any other state security institution.

Nisar's claim

Chaudhry Nisar had said on Friday that Maulana Abdul Aziz has submitted a written apology to police The minister was talking to journalists after ending a three-day visit to Washington.

More: Maulana Aziz delivers another Friday sermon over the phone

Asked why Islamabad was reluctant to arrest the Lal Masjid cleric, Khan said the government was careful, not reluctant.

“It is not difficult to arrest him. But we want to keep our focus on the ongoing operation against militants,” he said. “Any other action at this stage will create a diversion and benefit the militants.”

The minister recalled that after the Lal Masjid operation in 2007, the Musharraf government was forced to bring Maulana Aziz back from his village and provide him special security. “We do not want to take a decision that we have to review later,” he said.

Senior Civil Judge Saqib Jawad had issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against Lal Masjid cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz while hearing a case filed by civil society members.

During the hearing, the investigation officer of the case requested the court to issue an arrest warrant for Abdul Aziz for investigation, based on a First Information Report that was previously registered against the cleric at Aabpara Police Station.

Maulana Abdul Aziz had earlier refused to condemn the massacre of students and teachers in a terrorist attack on a school in Peshawar.