ISLAMABAD: Aiming to disassociate itself from the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan faction Jamaatul Ahrar, Lal Masjid on Saturday decried the group’s statement announcing terror strikes in the name of Abdul Rasheed Ghazi.

The group has said the recent bombing in Lahore was carried out as part of ‘Operation Ghazi’ to avenge the killing of Abdul Rasheed Ghazi, and Ghazi have wanted the fight against security forces to continue.

On Saturday, The Centrum Media released a video statement from Ghazi’s son, Haroon Rasheed Ghazi, addressing Jamaatul Ahrar.

“We should come up with a political solution. This bloodshed is not in the interest of anyone. Our stance is very clear; we do not endorse any violent activities,” he said.

The video statement also said the country has faced a wave of unrest since the 2007 Lal Masjid operation because of international powers, as similar destabilisation has been witnessed in other Muslim countries. Mr Ghazi blamed the United States and local politicians for unrest in Pakistan.

Lal Masjid’s Shuhada Foundation, which usually responds on behalf of Maulana Abdul Aziz, has already criticised Jamaatul Ahrar for using Ghazi’s name in its attack.

Mr Ghazi’s statement comes a day after another release from the banned organisation, which stated that it understood the pressure facing the Shuhada Foundation and Mr Aziz’s family. It also released a video of Ghazi called for resistance against state institutions.

A security official told Dawn that capital police officials visited Jamia Hafsa in G-7 to discuss the issue of Jamaatul Ahrar, and its support for his deceased brother, with Mr Aziz.

Ghazi was killed during the 2007 Lal Masjid operation.

A spokesperson for the Shuhada Foundation denied that any law enforcement officials have approached Lal Masjid or Mr Aziz’s relatives, but a security analyst said there has been considerable pressure the Lal Masjid administration and the family of Mr Aziz and his deceased brother because of the terrorist faction’s announcement.

“We cannot ignore the basic SOPs by the police or other law enforcement agencies that they would not have contacted the family of Rasheed Ghazi,” said Amir Rana, the director of the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies.

He added that there has already been pressure on the family, because Ghazi’s son is “regularly detained and released by the authorities”.

He said the most serious pressure, which is feared by both the Lal Masjid and the government, was civil society protests against Lal Masjid.

In another statement, Lal Masjid questioned the transparency of the operation that killed over 100 ‘terrorists’ after the Sehwan Sharif bombing.

The Shuhada Foundation demanded that the names and details of the deceased be made public, and asked: “Under which law were these people declared terrorists and then eliminated through extrajudicial killings?”

“The nation would like to know the reasons for these killings. First all the terrorists were able to kill innocent people and then the security forces resorted to extrajudicial killings,” it said.

“There is a need to counter terrorism but it should be within the ambit of the law.”

Published in Dawn, February 20th, 2017

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