District courts acquitted the chief cleric of Lal Masjid in four of the 12 cases registered against him for crimes including challenging government writ by keeping illegal arms.
Judicial Magistrate Kashif Qayyum Sheikh acquitted Abdul Aziz in four cases which were registered against him at the Aabpara police station. The cases included delivering provocative speeches against former president Pervez Musharraf’s government, participation in the issuance of ‘fatwas’ against the military operation in the tribal areas, keeping illegal arms and kidnapping policemen.
Aziz’s counsel Wajeehullah Khan contended that his client was not guilty and that Musharraf implicated him in false cases where the prosecution presented only nine witnesses during proceedings.
He argued that the prosecution had failed to submit enough witnesses and evidence against his client, saying that recordings of Aziz’s speeches were also not presented before the court by the prosecution.
In a case registered against Aziz in 2005, he was accused of delivering provocative speeches against the government during the now defunct Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal protest led by former MNA Mian Muhammad Aslam, thus inciting protestors to injure policemen and damage police motorcycles.
Two cases were filed against the cleric in 2004 and 2005 when the Aabpara police conducted raids on Lal Masjid to arrest Aziz and his brother Abdul Rashid Ghazi, the brothers fled from the scene and the police recovered arms and ammunition from their drawing room. One case alleged that the accused had resisted arrest when the Aabpara police raided the mosque.
In another case registered in 2007, he was accused of threatening the government with a backlash of suicide attacks if the government tried to tear down Lal Masjid or Jamia Hafsa, the women’s faculty. At least 10 soldiers and a Rangers official were killed, along with 91 suspected militants.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 1st, 2011.
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