Civil society now looks to parliament over Lal Masjid

Written by  Published by:Shiite News
Published in Pakistan
Saturday, 27 December 2014


Though a local court issued non-bailable arrest warrants of Lal Masjid cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz on Friday, the protesting civil society activists approached lawmakers to raise the issue of Lal Masjid in parliament.

The representatives of civil society held a meeting with the senators of four political parties in Parliament House to convince them to raise their point of view. The senators said they would take up the issue of Lal Masjid on the floor of the parliament and would also try to arrange a meeting of the civil society representatives with some federal ministers.

It may be noted that after the Peshawar tragedy, Maulana Aziz stated that he can neither condemn the killing of the children in Peshawar nor considered them as martyrs. After the statement, the civil society started a protest campaign against the cleric.

Activists say outlawed organisations should not be allowed to become active in country
For two days, the protests were held in front of the mosque during which the cleric reportedly threatened the protesters. As a result, FIRs were registered against both the sides. The protesters demanded the inclusion of Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) sections in the FIR registered against the cleric for threatening them.

They had given the police a two–day deadline to meet their demand.

During the meeting with the lawmakers, the representatives of civil society asked senators Saeed Ghani (PPP), Mushahid Hussain Sayed (PML), Afrasiab Khattak (ANP) and Tahir Hussain Mashhadi (MQM) to play their role against terrorism in the country.

Senator Saeed Ghani told Dawn: “The PPP has already been working against the menace of terrorism. It is good that civil society has also launched a campaign against terrorism. The representatives also gave us a charter of demands,” he said.

“I told them that most of the demands had been incorporated in the 20-point National Action Plan against terrorism.” Mr Ghani said the opposition parties had also been participating in the protests against Maulana Aziz.

“The representatives wanted to have a meeting with some federal ministers, so Mushahid Hussain assured them that he would talk to the ministers in this regard,” he said.

One of the representatives of civil society, Shan Taseer, told Dawn that the senators promised to highlight the issue on the floor of parliament on Monday.

“Because of the protests, the issue has been raised all over the country. Public awareness has also increased and things have started improving,” he said.

In the evening, the representatives of civil society gathered in front of the Aabpara police station to thank the police for getting non-bailable arrest warrants of the cleric issued from the court.

Rights activist Marvi Sirmed said all schools demolished by Taliban should be reconstructed. She said the banned organisations should not be allowed to work in the country.

Farzana Bari said people should monitor those clerics who delivered hate speeches from mosques. Lal Masjid is a test case for the government, she added.

Rights activist Pervez Hoodbhoy said the protest launched by civil society had impressed the whole nation.

Social activist Amir Zia said in the past public opinion used to be divided but the Peshawar tragedy united the nation. Now it is expected that things would start changing in the country.

“I attended the funeral of Aqeel alias Dr Usman, who was executed in Faisalabad a few days ago, to see the reaction of the people there. Though a number of people participated in the funeral, many of them said he (Dr Usman) was a terrorist,” he said.

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