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Banned Outfit ASWJ Facilitates Govt’s Deal With Lal Masjid Admin

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The government on Tuesday signed an agreement with the administration of Laal Masjid in Islamabad. Leader of the banned sectarian organisation Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) Muhammad Ahmad Ludhianvi acted as the arbiter between the two parties in striking out the deal.

The details of the agreement were communicated to the media by Lal Masjid’s spokesperson and Ghazi Abdurrasheed’s son Haroon Ghazi in a memo. He wrote that the government and Maulana Abdulaziz had entered into an agreement which was signed by Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Hamza Shafqat and arbitrated by Ludhianwi.

According to the agreement, Maulana Abdul Aziz will move into Jamia Hafsa for two months after which all restrictions on his movement will be lifted. After the two months, he will be free to travel at will across the country.

Security analysts are surprised by the roles played by extremist cleric Ludhianvi and Haroon Ghazi in facilitating the agreement. Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat is a banned outfit and its origins can be traced back to Sipah Sahabah Pakistan (SSP) and Millat Islamia Pakistan. It was banned in 2008 and its assets were confiscated after it was found to be involved in terrorist activities.

However, just before the parliamentary elections of 2018, the restrictions imposed on its leader Ludhianwi were lifted. Subsequently, he extended a lot of support to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf in 2018 elections. Moreover, it is known that at least four offices of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat and Sipah Sahaba are also functional in different parts of the country, while these groups command thousands of followers. Analysts view these facts as proof of LudhianVi’s close ties with the establishment.

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Meanwhile, sources have informed Naya Daur that Haroon Ghazi’s role in the deal is also mysterious and suspicious just like Ludhianvi’s. Ghazi has had a troubled relationship with Lal Masjid in the past. He was once accused by former spokesperson of Lal Masjid of obtaining land and a car on Lal Masjid’s behalf from Malik Riaz Hussain but keeping them for himself.

It is being speculated that the aim of the deal between the government and Lal Masjid is to remove Maulana Abdulaziz, whom the state views as troublesome, from his position and to make room for the more tolerant Haroon Ghazi to take his place.

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