The issue of Jamia Hafsa rebuilding that had locked the Islamabad administration and the Lal Masjid (red mosque) management in a stand-off for over a month was resolved, for now, when the two agreed to reconstruct the women seminary in H-8, a sector reserved for educational institutes, sources in the Interior Ministry told The Express Tribune on Wednesday.
The sources said that the issue was resolved on the intervention of Interior Minister Rehman Malik on the instructions from the President’s House to accommodate demands of Lal Masjid chief cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz.
The new development was confirmed by Maulana Aziz who said that he had received a phone call from the interior minister last Friday assuring his full cooperation in reconstructing the seminary.
While Malik could not be reached by phone to confirm this development, President Asif Zardari’s spokesperson Farhatullah Babar said the presidency has no hand in the Jamia Hafsa issue and that the matter is related to the interior ministry.
An official of the capital administration, however, said that the size of the plot for the seminary is yet to be decided. He said that in a meeting with the Islamabad deputy commissioner (DC), Maulana Aziz had demanded a larger plot to be allotted for the seminary in case it was shifted from its original site in sector G-6. The official’s claims were corroborated by a close friend of Aziz.
Islamabad Chief Commissioner Tariq Mahmood Pirzada said that the issue was “almost resolved” and that the DC was working on different proposals on the matter. Although DC Amir Ali Ahmad could not be approached for comment, Additional DC Dr Ehtisham Anwar assured that the administration will resolve the issue amicably.
Meanwhile, CDA spokesperson Ramzan Sajid expressed ignorance of any such development. He said that the Lal Masjid management had tried to rebuild the seminary by encroaching upon a land allotted to the education ministry for construction of a library. “Although the ministry had requested an alternative plot in H-8, we could not accommodate them due to unavailability of plot in the sector,” he said.
On Friday last, a large number of burqa-clad women gathered at the site of the defunct seminary. They were holding placards in their hands inscribed with slogans against the government for delaying reconstruction.
But the capital administration sought one week’s time from the mosque administration for finding a solution to the issue. The Lal Masjid’s chief cleric had announced to lay foundation stone of the seminary on encroached land adjacent to the mosque on December 30.
Jamia Hafsa was razed to the ground after a military operation in 2007.
Sharia expert and Supreme Court advocate Dr Aslam Khaki said there is no need for construction of a madrassah on the site of a public library. “Islam does not permit the construction of a mosque or seminary on encroached land,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 29th, 2011.
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