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Pakistan’s Lal Masjid is back in news. This time with a Taliban flag

A video clip of Lal Masjid cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz threatening policemen that Pakistani Taliban will not spare them has gone viral.

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The controversial Lal Masjid and its extremist firebrand maulana Abdul Aziz are back in the news – this time in defence of the Taliban flag.

In a viral video, Aziz threatened policemen who arrived at Jamia Hafsa, a women’s madrasa, in Islamabad to remove the flag of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

In the clip circulating on social media, the cleric can be heard telling the policemen that ‘Pakistan’s Taliban’ will not spare them. He went on to suggest that they must leave their jobs if this is what they are expected to do. “Iss naukri ko chhodo… Allah aur achhi naukriyan dega,” he said.

The malulana and his collaborators have been booked under the Anti-Terrorism Act and different sections of Pakistan Penal Code.

In another set of pictures, Aziz can be seen holding a rifle while sitting outside the madrasa. Scores of women were seen around and on Jamia Hafsa’s terrace amid the commotion.

This act of defiance by Aziz left some wondering about his allegiance.

Hours after the news spread, the flags were taken down. The Deputy Commissioner of Islamabad Hamza Shafqat reportedly said a case has been registered against the Maulana “after he hoisted the Afghan Taliban flags” on the madrasa’s rooftop.

Also read: Pakistani Salafi clerics are upset with Taliban after Imam killing and mosque-closing spree

Not the first for Jamia Hafsa

Jamia Hafsa’s tryst with the Taliban is not a new occurrence. Earlier in August this year, Taliban flags were seen atop the madrasa, and cleric Aziz had declared to hold shariah and Fateh Mubarak conference in the red mosque.

However, the flags were taken down by the city administration. Shafqat had said that hoisting the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan flag was prohibited.

Significance of Lal Masjid

In 2007, under former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, over 100 people were killed during a military operation with Lal Masjid being the ground zero of confrontation between the Taliban and the Pakistani government.

Maulana Aziz, whose mother and brother were killed in the operation, was arrested after the siege of the mosque. He was released in April 2009. He had requested a pardon for all the people involved in the operation, including Musharraf.

Many critics believe that the 2007 military operation gave birth to Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Two days ago, Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had said that the Imran Khan government would be willing to pardon TTP members if they pledge to not indulge in terror activities.

(Edited by Prashant)

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