ISLAMABAD: The interior ministry came under immense pressure to take action against Lal Masjid cleric Abdul Aziz after four key legal documents, asserting that the cleric was an absconder, were presented before the upper house by Senator Farhatullah Babar.

Babar, who also sought the chair’s permission to move a privilege motion against Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan for misleading the house, said Nisar incorrectly stated in Senate that the government did not move against Aziz because of a lack of evidence in the case lodged against him.

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In a policy statement presented to Senate on Dec 30, 2015, on the implementation of the National Action Plan, the interior minister had also said that if anyone came up with documentary evidence against Aziz, immediate action will be taken regardless of political considerations.

The documents Babar produced included a copy of the FIR against Aziz, dated Dec 19, 2014, arrest warrants issued against him, a court order declaring Aziz an absconder, an advertisement declaring Aziz an absconder and copy of an official notification issued to cellular companies to suspend services in areas in the vicinity of the Lal Masjid to prevent dissemination of Aziz’s Friday sermons.

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Aziz had publicly declared allegiance to, and sought the support of, Daesh, Babar claimed, adding that the government was “deliberately not apprehending him [Aziz] either because of fear or complicity.”

A First Information Report (FIR) was registered on December 19, 2014 against Lal Masjid’s chief cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz at Aabpara Police Station upon unremitting pressure exerted from protesting civil society.

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Babar said the documents, which were also available with the interior ministry, proved that Nisar’s statement in Senate on Dec 30 was not based on the truth.

He urged the Senate chairman to send the matter to the privilege committee or ask the government for a formal explanation on the contradiction between the minister’s statement and the facts highlighted by these documents.

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Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani then directed that these documents be handed over to Nisar, from whom he has sought a comprehensive reply on the issue.