ISLAMABAD - A day after deposed prayer leader of Lal Masjid stirred panic amongst the city administration and the law-enforcement agencies, it was all calm around the mosque on Saturday.

The standoff continues and a nominal strength of police has been deployed to maintain law and order around the Masjid. One side of the road in front of the mosque has been closed for traffic and no irrelevant person is being allowed to enter the seminary. The police has also laid siege around the mosque by putting barbed wire so that no one could enter the premises.

Taking benefit of the administration for not appointing new Khateeb for the seminary after it transferred the previous one, Maulana Abdul Aziz again took control of the Masjid some two weeks back. He entered the mosque along with female students of Jamia Hafsa who are still staying inside the mosque. Since then it was a bit tense around the mosque though the administration ignored the threat. It did not move even when the deposed cleric delivered a Friday sermon last week despite repeated warnings by one of his former comrades Hafiz Ehtesham Ahmed, who claims to be the spokesperson of Lal Masjid’s Shuhada Foundation.

On February 7, Maulana Abdul Aziz again tested the nerves of the government by reiterating his claim to be prayer leader of the Masjid. According to the sources in the police, city administration was busy in negotiations with Maulana Abdul Aziz, none of the sides seems willing to back off from their position and the standoff continues. “The administration is busy in negotiations with Maulana Abdul Azi and we are here to stay until further orders,” a police official on duty around the masjid said on condition of anonymity when asked when they were going to take action against the deposed khateeb.

On Thursday night, around 100 female students of Jamia Hafsa in G-7 broke into the sealed building of the seminary at H-11 (Jamia Hafsa). As a result, officers from the capital administration approached Lal Masjid to meet Maulana Aziz but talks remained inconclusive.

On Friday, residents were allowed to enter the mosque to offer prayers but under strict conditions. They were asked to deposit their CNICs at the police barricade. The mosque virtually remains closed to all outsiders, including those want to offer prayers. Female students wearing black burqa can be seen in the premises.

There was no khateeb or naib khateeb at Lal Masjid after Amir Siddique was transferred two months ago. On the other side, according to the officials, Maulana Aziz wants to become Khateeb of the mosque again.

The Islamabad Capital Territory administration has asked the Maulana to leave the place in few days, said the officials privy to the negotiations. The mosque known as Lal Masjid was the site of a siege in 2007.