ISLAMABAD: Lal Masjid’s firebrand clerics on Thursday accepted a government offer of 20 kanals of land in Sector H-11/4 for rebuilding Jamia Hafsa, averting a feared clash reminiscent of the bloody standoff between the two sides in July 2007 that saw the seminary for girls razed to ground.
This alternate site measuring 10,000 square yards is 40 times larger than the original site of Jamia Hafsa adjacent to Lal Masjid.
“An agreement has been signed by me and my wife Majida Younus alias Umm-i-Hissan, with Chief Commissioner Islamabad Tariq Mehmood Pirzada,” announced the administrator of Lal Masjid Maulana Abdul Aziz in a press conference held in the mosque.
The agreement binds the Lal Masjid administration not to use the 250 square yards plot on which the original seminary stood for any purpose other than offering prayers.
During Friday sermon on December 16, Maulana Aziz announced his decision to reconstruct the building at its previous site and invited people to the foundation-laying ceremony on December 23.
It has been learnt that earlier the clerics had demanded that the government should allocate 40 kanals for the seminary in sector H-8 and also construct the building.
However, Deputy Commissioner Islamabad Amer Ali Ahmed and his team continued holding talks with the clerics and convinced them to accept the alternate plot in sector H-11, which has already been allocated for educational institutions; adding the government would not bear the cost of the construction.
At the press conference, Maulana Aziz rejected the impression that there was any confrontation between the government and the Lal Masjid administration.
“We are satisfied with the new location because there the Capital Development Authority permits us to construct a nine-storey building for Jamia Hafsa,” he said.
Responding a question, he rejected the impression that he and his followers had backed out from their previous stance of ‘enforcement of Shariah’, adding: “At present, we are concentrating on rebuilding of Jamia Hafsa.”
He said those who were criticising them for having an underhand deal with the government never realised the problems being faced by about 4,000 students of Jamia Hafsa due to lack of a building.
He could not give a satisfactory reply when asked why Lal Masjid administration had so far not filed an application for registration of an FIR against former president Gen Pervez Musharraf for the 2007 operation, saying: “The issue of martyrs is separate from our problems.”
Asked why the plot had been allotted in his name instead of a trust, Maulana Aziz said: “As I am the in-charge of the mosque and seminary, it was allotted in my name but I have dedicated it to my students and followers.”