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Home > News > PTI > Report

Students must escape or surrender: Lal Masjid cleric

July 05, 2007 13:52 IST
Last Updated: July 05, 2007 15:03 IST

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Having failed in his bid to sneak out wearing a 'burqa', Abdul Aziz, head cleric of the Lal Masjid, has asked people holed up inside the mosque to either surrender or escape if they can.

In an interview to state-run PTV on Wednesday night, Aziz said he has realised that given the situation outside the mosque, it was detrimental to stay inside.

"If they can get out quietly, they should go, or they can surrender if they want to," he said. "I saw after coming out that the siege is very intense...our companions will not be able to stay for long."

Wearing the same burqa in which he was caught while trying to escape, Aziz asked his younger bother Abdul Rashid Ghazi, who is currently leading the resistance to come out of the besieged mosque and seminary.

Without naming militants of banned militant group Jaishe-e-Muhammad who according to President Pervez Musharraf [Images] have infiltrated into the mosque and taken over its defences, Aziz said that some others than the students of the madrasas attached to the mosque were present inside.

He said he received sympathies from banned Jehadi groups besides receiving limited financial assistance from abroad.

"Our objective was to pressurise the government," he said and admitted that they instilled the spirit of jihad among the students. "The entire campaign was meant for the enforcement of Sharia."

He also defended his militant postures since January this year.

Aziz said his students kidnapped some people, including policemen and Chinese women accusing them of practising prostitution, but insisted that all the actions were taken in reaction to the government' steps to demolish mosques and detain teachers of his girls' seminary.

Aziz admitted that he wanted to escape from the mosque to avoid arrest and surrender. He said about 250 people along with his brother Abdur Rashid Ghazi are still inside the seminary.

There were 13 or 14 automatic Klashnikov rifles and masks in the seminary, which he said, were provided to them by some 'Pakistani friends'. He did not disclose their identities.

Interestingly Aziz was interviewed with his burqa on, which was seen as an attempt by the government to further humiliate him.

During the interview Aziz even displayed how he covered his face with the black veil before he was caught, apparently at the request of the interviewer.

To a question, he said it was wrong to snatch the arms from the police but said that the students showed reaction as the security forces had erected barbed wires near the mosque and seminary complex.

To another question, he admitted that his wife, who is the principal of Jamia Hafsa and other teachers, did not let the female students go out.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani government has promoted a para-military soldier who managed to apprehend Aziz when he attempted to flee after woman constables alerted that he was a male clad in a burqa.

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