Islamabad - Differences between Lal Masjid cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz and Shohada Foundation of Pakistan (SFP) have surfaced over pardoning the former military ruler General (Retd) Pervez Musharraf for launching military operation against the mosque. After the statement of Maulana Abdul Aziz about forgiving the former president, Shohada Foundation of Pakistan Trust, a representative body of people whose relatives died in the 2007 Lal Masjid operation in Islamabad, expressed stern reaction over it and categorically rejected the announcement of the cleric.

Talking to the media persons outside the court after obtaining pre-arrest bail in two cases, Maulana Aziz claimed that all the cases registered against him were ‘false.’ The cleric said that he was ready to forgive former President General (Retd) Pervez Musharraf and others who were involved in the Lal Masjid operation in July 2007. He told that although some of his family members are not ready to pardon the former president yet he will try to convince them on this issue. “I will announce the forgiveness publicly in a press conference,” maintained Maulana Aziz.

Replying to a query, he made it clear that the decision of forgiving Musharraf was not the outcome of any deal. On the other hand, the SFPT issued a statement expressing their severe concerns over the statement of Maulana Aziz and termed it as an outcome of acute pressure on him for withdrawing Abdul Rashid Ghazi murder case. Tariq Asad Advocate, the counsel for president of SFPT Haroon Rashid Ghazi, the son of deceased Abdul Rashid, said that this announcement has badly hurt the emotions of heirs of the people who were killed in the operation. He pledged that they would not forgive the former president and would continue to proceed with the case.

“Musharraf is not only the killer of students and teachers of Lal Masjid but he is also involved in murdering thousands of people by permitting drone attacks in North Waziristan,” said the counsel for SFPT. He continued that the announcement of Maulana to forgive such a person is beyond his understanding and it has shocked him. Advocate Tariq said that the cleric has the legal right of pardoning the killers of his sons but his announcement to withdraw Ghazi murder case is violation of country’s laws as well as Sharia.

He further said that the cleric made this statement after succumbing to severe pressure as he was pressurized by using various tactics to compel Haroon Rashid, who is complainant in this case, to withdraw the case. The counsel said that soon he along with the heirs of Lal Masjid operation’s victims would hold a press conference to divulge important facts about the case and would tell the nation how various institutions of the country attempted to exert their influence on this case.

Earlier, Lal Masjid cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz was granted interim-bail by a local court in two cases registered against him in the federal capital. Additional sessions judge Raja Asif Mahmood conducted hearing of his bail pleas in two cases related to related to violation of Amplifier Act and extending life threats to civil society activists granted him bail against the surety bonds worth Rs 50,000 each.

The petitioner Maulana Abdul Aziz moved the court through his counsel Tariq Asad Advocate and cited the state and SHO Aabpara as respondents.

He submitted two applications and sought pre-arrest bails in two cases. One case was registered with Aabpara police station on 17 October, 2014 under section 295-A of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and ¾ of Amplifier Act and the second case was registered with the same police station on 19 December, 2014 under section 506(ii) of PPC for extending life threats to civil society activists. On this occasion, police took stern security measures by deploying a large number of policemen around the courtroom and brought the cleric under tight security blanket.