July 22nd, 2020

By Ayesha Mir


Trouble flared in Islamabad yet again as Maulana Idrees, the close aide of Lal Masjid cleric Abdul Aziz, went missing outside Jamia Fareedia in E-7 on July 15. Lal Masjid has once again been cordoned off to prevent Abdul Aziz from re-entering it.

According to the Special Branch, the disappearance of Idrees might lead to increased tensions between the government and the cleric, and could provoke him to violate his recent agreement with the government which barred him from entering the Lal Masjid for two months.

According to news reports, after the disappearance of his close aide Idrees, Aziz threatened to break the recent agreement with the government, which had been mediated by Ahmed Ludhianvi of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat. As per the agreement Aziz vacated Lal Masjid on June 8, 2020 and was banned from reentering it for another two months. Aziz and his family had moved to Jamia Hafsa, but conflict erupted again when he suddenly stormed Jamia Fareedia (a seminary in E7) along with 200 students and removed Maulana Ghaffar, the seminary’s principal. However, the standoff was short-lived as Aziz moved back to Jamia Hafsa in G-7 on July 10, 2020.

In light of recent threats made by Abdul Aziz to take over Lal Masjid again, a heavily armed contingent of police, along with the Counter-Terrorism Force and Anti-Riot United has been stationed permanently outside Lal Masjid and cordoned it off.

Aziz’s nephew, Haroon Rashid has said that Idrees was picked up by the Counter Terrorism Forces on his way back from Jamia Fareedia. He said added that there had been a considerable amount of conflict at Jamia Fareedia, where Aziz’s wife and her students were locked up in a room after their phones were seized by the CTF.

According to other reports, Aziz and Jamia Fareedia administrator, Maulana Abdul Ghaffar used to be close partners, but differences started to develop as they both claimed ownership of the seminary in E-7. Aziz’s father had obtained the land and constructed a seminary on it in the 1970s. Aziz himself had appointed Ghaffar as the administrator of Jamia Fareedia in 2002 and had later promoted him to the position of deputy chief. However, Aziz claimed that Ghaffar grew close to ‘authorities’ in the past few months and attempted to seize unwarranted control of Jamia Fareedia.

In response to Aziz’s recent take-over of the seminary, the administration requested members of the ulema to mediate the matter through talks. Government officials also accompanied the ulema and assured Aziz that the rightful and legal owner of the seminary would gain control of it. Since the government does not own either the land or the seminary, it can only play the role of a mediator at the moment. The ulema and Islamabad administration officials stated that they hoped to settle the dispute over the coming month.

According to a source, the capital city administration is adamant on preventing Aziz from grabbing control of the Lal Masjid. The source added that they must do this to put a stop to the spread of his extremist ideologies.