Civil society to restart anti-Abdul Aziz campaign

Source: Published in Current Affairs on Thursday, January 15, 2015

ISLAMABAD: On Jan 16, a month on from the tragedy that shook Pakistanis around the world, members of civil society have announced a global series of peaceful demonstrations that will raise a voice against the Taliban and their sympathisers.

Addressing a press conference at the National Press Club on Wednesday, lawyer and rights activist Jibran Nasir announced that on Friday, simultaneous protests in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad will be accompanied by demonstrations in New York, Houston, Toronto, Washington DC, London and Berlin.

Flanked by the Awami Workers Party’s Farzana Bari, civil society activists Shaan Taseer and Sajjad Changezi as well as other concerned citizens, Mr Nasir demanded that the government arrest Lal Masjid cleric Abdul Aziz in accordance with the First Information Report (FIR) registered against him at the Aabpara Police Station.

“We demand stern action against all terror networks and their facilitators, including Abdul Aziz, who is spreading terrorism while sitting in the heart of the capital,” Mr Nasir said. The activist who recently made headlines for starting the civil society-led #ReclaimYourMosque campaign, said that Friday’s main rally would be held at Aabpara Chowk on Friday evening at 6pm. He called on people from all walk sof life to step out of their homes to send a strong message to extremists.

“It’s the responsibility of the government to arrest Abdul Aziz immediately… but I fail to understand why they are not arresting him even though an FIR is registered against him,” Shaan Taseer told Dawn. He said that Abdul Aziz was a known Taliban sympathiser and if the government was serious about eliminating terrorists, it had to arrest Abdul Aziz.

“Instead of applying for bail... [Aziz] has been challenging the state with a ‘catch me if you can’ attitude... and the government is doing nothing,” he said.

Activists announce worldwide protests to mark one month anniversary of Peshawar tragedy; ask IGP, interior minister to expedite investigation into Lal Masjid cleric’s threats.

Talking to Dawn, Mr Nasir said that civil society had decided to approach the Islamabad High Court to request it to restrain Abdul Aziz from using the state-run mosque as a staging ground for his nefarious activities.

AWP’s Farzana Bari said, “The state can’t win the war against terrorism without the support of citizens. If you citizens want to see Pakistan become a peaceful country, you have to own this war,” she said.

Inactive investigation

Earlier, activists asking for the arrest of the controversial Lal Masjid cleric had earlier written to top officials, asking them to expedite investigations into the FIR lodged against Abdul Aziz.

Shaan Taseer, one of the complainants in the FIR against the cleric, wrote to the Islamabad Inspector General Tahir Alam Khan and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar, saying that since “The accused is a person of great influence and power... such a controversial and sensitive case should not be vested with the ranks of investigating officer below the grade of 18 (sic).”

In the letter, a copy of which is available with Dawn, Taseer regretted that despite the complete cooperation of concerned, the investigation was not going anywhere and urged the IG and minister to intervene and expedite the investigation.

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