Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Pakistan's Interior Minister & Lal Masjid threat

There is no end to the recalcitrance of Maulana Abdul Aziz and the crisis Lal Masjid poses for the state of Pakistan. The latest exhibition of this recalcitrance comes in the form of a blatantly rebellious threat from the Lal Masjid leadership: be prepared for aggressive action should Maulana Aziz be taken into detention. A case against Aziz is registered under Section 506 in the Aabpara Police Station. Sources within the police station state the order to arrest Aziz has not yet been given, and the action itself would not be difficult. A spokesperson has said Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has failed to give the order due to illness, but he had failed to allow any action against this untouchable mutinous leader even in his days of good health. Pakistan People’s Party’s Senator Farhatullah Babar recently accused the Interior Minister of misleading the Upper House of Parliament by denying evidence existed to take action against Aziz. Babar then produced ample evidence against the cleric, including warrants, official notifications issued to cellular companies to suspend services in the vicinity of Lal Masjid during Aziz’s Friday hate-filled sermons, along with citations of Aziz’s publicly declared allegiance to Daesh. These acts could lead to Aziz being detained for up to 90 days.

It is after the submission of this evidence that Lal Masjid has activated its followers to stand ready for “aggressive reactions” across the country. This is a bold display of contempt for the writ of the state, a state that seems either reprehensibly complicit or utterly helpless. Let us not forget that the Interior Minister happens to the point person for the successful implementation of the National Action Plan, and has disgracefully granted political cover to Maulana Abdul Aziz, the embodiment of the radical bellicosity that continues to function with startling impunity. 

The Interior Minister has a history of histrionic compassion for extremists; even those who take a violent stand against the state fall under this sympathy as seen by his tears on the death of Tehreek-i-Taliban leader Hakeemullah Mehsud. Yet one must still hope that he will stand by his words of December 30, 2015, when he said should evidence be presented, action would immediately be taken. The risks to the state are certainly there. Armed radicals are challenging the writ of the state, advocating for and openly declaring their intentions to unleash violence throughout Pakistan. Yet the risks of inaction are far greater. If left alone, if left to fester, the ideologies and tactics of Aziz and his ilk will overwhelm the state, and force it to fight on yet one more front.

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