“The suicide attackers are ready to operate anywhere/anytime in Pakistan. We consider suicide attacks are right in Pakistan in few circumstances, while we consider them as absolutely justified in the context of Afghanistan and Iraq. Our students enjoy the moments when a police or Rangers operation looms, and they get bored when the situation normalizes. We favoured the Taliban not only in the past, we favour them even today.”

–Maulana Abdul Aziz – At a press conference outside Lal Masjid (2007).

 

Abdul Aziz, the extremist leader of Lal Masjid in Islamabad, had submitted a written apology to the capital police for his implied defence of the Dec 16 school attack in Peshawar.

Those words of Maulana Aziz, spoken openly and brazenly to the national media, caused a wave of revulsion at a time when the country was still mourning the mass killings of schoolchildren.

However, the principal problem with Lal Masjid and its extremist leaders has never been simply the words of comfort they offer to militants and terrorists, but the repeated allegation the mosque is very much part of the network that the state is meant to be fighting.

Nobody expects the state to militarily take on every militant group operating on Pakistani soil. Common sense dictates that a phased, methodical approach be deployed in challenging militancy, terrorism and extremism on Pakistani soil. But what is Maulana Aziz if not a direct challenge to the state and an impediment in the immediate fight against militancy?