ISLAMABAD: A heavy contingent of police and Rangers was deployed in the areas surrounding Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa in the federal capital city to maintain law and order, following an announcement by cleric Abdul Aziz to hold a rally.

The rally announced by Lal Masjid cleric Abdul Aziz, in an earlier press release, was held to mark the initiation of a movement towards enforcement of a system based on the Holy Quran and Sunnah after Friday prayers today.

The rally announced by Lal Masjid cleric Abdul Aziz.— DawnNews screengrab
The rally announced by Lal Masjid cleric Abdul Aziz.— DawnNews screengrab

The rally, led by Aziz and Umme Hassan and comprising seminary students took off from Lal Masjid in Islamabad's G-6 Sector and ended at the Jamia Hafsa in Sector G-7 of Islamabad.

Umme Hassan is the head of the Jamia Hafsa seminary and wife of Lal Masjid cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz.

The rally, led by Aziz and Umme Hassan comprises students of the seminary and is currently under way.— DawnNews screengrab
The rally, led by Aziz and Umme Hassan comprises students of the seminary and is currently under way.— DawnNews screengrab

Those attending the rally shouted anti-government slogans in favour of Maulana Abdul Aziz. They also demanded the enforcement of a system based on the Quran and Sunnah.

Read: Lal Masjid clerics vow to enforce Sharia in country

The rally, led by Aziz and Umme Hassan comprises students of the seminary and is currently under way.— DawnNews screengrab
The rally, led by Aziz and Umme Hassan comprises students of the seminary and is currently under way.— DawnNews screengrab

District Magistrate issues warning to Aziz

District Magistrate of Islamabad Capital Territory has issued a warning notice to the Lal Masjid cleric for taking out a rally "without informing and seeking permission from authorities, which could have jeopardised the law and order situation in Islamabad".

The letter states that a previous notice issued by the office of the Chief Commissioner of Islamabad on August 3 this year, had included Aziz's name in a watch list under the fourth schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA).

It further states that as per a surety letter submitted by Aziz to the Inspector general of Islamabad Police, he is bound to respect and cooperate with the federal authorities.

Map of the area.
Map of the area.

The warning letter by Islamabad's district magistrate states that today's rally was in violation of Section 11EE of the ATA as he took part in a rally, organised with religious parties, without informing and seeking prior approval from authorities, which could have jeopardised the law and order situation in Islamabad.

The letter also warned the Lal Masjid cleric that he could be arrested if he was found in violation of Section 11EE of the ATA again.

The fourth schedule deals with Section 11EE of the ATA, entitled ‘Proscription of Persons’. Sub section two of the same states that “such persons are required to execute a bond with one or more sureties to the satisfaction of the district police officer in the territorial limits of which the said person ordinarily resides, or carries on business, for his good behaviour”.

The surety guarantees that he/she is not involved in any act of terrorism and is not in any manner advancing the objectives of the proscribed organisation referred to in sub-section (1) for a period not exceeding three years.

If such a person fails to execute the bond or cannot produce a surety or sureties to the satisfaction of the DPO, the officer can order that person to be detained and produced within 24 hours before a court which shall order him to be detained in prison until he executes the bond or until a satisfactory surety is available.

Copy of warning notice issued to Maulana Abdul Aziz.— Photo by author
Copy of warning notice issued to Maulana Abdul Aziz.— Photo by author

This is not the first time Aziz has vowed to enforce Sharia in the country. Earlier in April 2007, Lal Masjid clerics had vowed to enforce what they called ‘Shariat’ (Islamic system) in the country even if the government does not want to do so. The Lal Masjid administration had also threatened to unleash a wave of suicide bombers if the government took any action to counter it.

The announcement was followed by agitation which erupted into street battles around the mosque between security forces and militants. At least nine people died and some 150 were injured.

Also read: A chronology of Lal Masjid saga

Security forces had then laid siege to the mosque, later demanding an unconditional surrender and the release of alleged hostages held inside. Aziz was arrested sneaking out of the mosque dressed in a burqa.

Read: Lal Masjid protest: FIR registered against Maulana Aziz

Later in December 2014, a First Information Report (FIR) was also registered against Maulana Abdul Aziz at Islamabad's Aabpara Police Station upon unremitting pressure exerted from protesting civil society.

Civil society was responding to a statement by Maulana Abdul Aziz in which he refused to condemn the massacre of students and teachers in a terrorist attack on an army-run school in Peshawar on December 16, 2014.

Also read: Lal Masjid denies Nisar claim of written apology on APS remarks

Security agencies, in January 2015, had also warned the government that due to his links with known militant groups and his anti-government rhetoric, the resurgence of Lal Masjid cleric Abdul Aziz posed a security threat to the law and order situation in the capital.

The warning came after a video message by students of Jamia Hafsa, in which they had invited the self-styled Islamic State (IS) chief Abu Bakar al-Baghdadi to ‘avenge’ the 2007 military raid on Lal Masjid. A report by the Islamabad police, sent to the interior ministry had termed the invitation as “waging war” against the state.

Also read: Sons of former Lal Masjid cleric arrested in Islamabad

Recently in September 2015, two sons of deceased Lal Masjid cleric Ghazi Abdul Rasheed, Haris and Haroon were arrested from Islamabad's F-6 sector by a joint team of Police and Rangers, who were patrolling the area at the time.

An army uniform and a handgun were seized from their vehicle. A First Information Report (FIR) was lodged against for the possession of a weapon at the Kohsar police station.

Also read: NAP, Nacta & NS

The National Action Plan was devised to eliminate terrorism from the country, in the aftermath of the Peshawar tragedy. Similarly the Necta was also constituted to fight terrorism. It was revised in the wake of a deadliest terrorist attack on the Army Public School.

A consolidated report on NAP implementation, prepared by the interior ministry after its conception, showed it as vague at best and raised more questions than it answers.

Later in July this year Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja had also termed NAP as "a joke" and lambasted the government over its inaction over the issue.