Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed speaks at a press conference on Monday. — APP
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed speaks at a press conference on Monday. — APP

ISLAMABAD: Two days after the capital police registered a case under the charges of sedition and terrorism against Maulana Abdul Aziz for hoisting Afghan Taliban flags on the rooftop of his Jamia Hafsa, the government has decided not to pursue the FIR against him.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Monday told a press conference that the government had resolved all issues with the cleric through dialogue to keep the situation in the federal capital normal.

“That’s why we keep talking to them,” he said, adding the maulana had an issue every other day.

“Every day he comes up with an issue and every day we try to resolve it,” he said.

Says all issues with cleric resolved through dialogue

The minister said there were 511 madressahs and 1,000 mosques in the capital.

“Out of the 511 seminaries, we have issues with only one which we resolved through dialogue.”

Without naming the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TLP), he said the government had also made efforts to resolve issues with another religious organisation. “However, the outcome was not good,” he said.

The FIR was lodged against Maulana Aziz, his wife and others at the Aabpara police station two days ago under section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (punishment for act of terrorism), 11-EE (security for good behaviour) along with 124-A (sedition), 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapon) 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object) and 506ii (criminal intimidation) of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), sources in the police and the capital administration said.

The two terrorism charges - 7 and 11EE ATA - were added to the FIR against Maulana Aziz for threatening the police with the name of the Afghan Taliban and displaying a weapon, the sources said.

Section 124-A of the PPC was added as he asked the policemen to give up their jobs while section 506ii was included in the FIR as he and his wife threatened the police with dire consequences.

Earlier, Afghan Taliban’s flags were found hoisted in the seminary twice. But this time, the case was registered as the videos and photos went viral. However, soon after its registration the FIR was sealed. “The case has not been withdrawn but sealed,” sources in the police told Dawn.

Two cases were also registered against Maulana Aziz and his associates at the Aabpara police station on August 12 under section 148, 149, 452 and 506ii of the PPC and on Sept 16 under section 158, 149, 452, 506ii, 447 and 511. Though these FIRs are open, so far investigations have not been started.

Meanwhile, commenting on the New Zealand cricket team’s decision to cancel Pakistan tour minutes before the first match, the interior minister said the cabinet had deployed army on the security of the team.

He said the number of commandos, troops and police personnel deployed for their security exceeded the total number of New Zealand’s forces.

He said other teams had visited Pakistan in the past without any issue. He also called on the nation not be disappointed, stating a day will come when international teams will want to play in Pakistan.

When told by a reporter that the information about the threat to the team had emanated from Five Eyes, the minister asked where the alliance’s security experts were when the New Zealand team had practiced here for three days.

He reiterated that Pakistan’s security forces were among the world’s strongest, saying there was no threat alert that prompted the Kiwis to abandon the tour at the last minute.

Mr Rashid said Pakistan’s borders were peaceful, adding no refugee camps had been established there.

He slammed India and others for hatching conspiracies against Pakistan in reaction to their failures in Afghanistan.

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2021

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