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Pakistan cleric offers surrender
July 05, 2007 23:40 IST
A leading cleric holed up in the beseiged Lal Masjid in Islamabad on Thursday offered to surrender but the Pakistan government rejected the overture.
Abdul Rashid Ghazi, the deputy leader of the mosque and brother of captured head of the mosque Maulana Abdul Aziz, said he was willing to hand over the shrine and its affiliated Islamic schools to a government department for religious buildings.
"I am making this offer to save the lives of the students," Ghazi told Geo TV.
"I want to stay in one of the houses behind the mosque compound with my mother who is sick and with the wife of my brother until I get an alternate place to move to," he said.
Pakistan's Deputy Information Minister Tariz Azeem rejected the offer and accused him of using his mother as a bargaining chip.
"The time for rhetoric is over, it is time for action," Azeem was quoted as saying.
"Instead of issuing statements he should come out with the women and children he is using as shields, hand over all the weapons, and bring it to a decent closure," he said.
"He is a wanted man, he is a declared absconder. It will be up to the court to decide his future."
Ghazi's brother Aziz was caught trying to flee the mosque in a burqa Wednesday night.