Just when we think that one cleric, determined to challenge the writ of the state, has finally disappeared for good, he shows up and takes the capital hostage once again. Maulana Abdul Aziz is back in the crosshairs of our law enforcement agencies, although this time, strangely, he has attempted to take over a seminary he was never directly controlling in the first place. His last siege included demands made to expand Jamia Hafsa, the seminary that features his loyal students. And yet on this occasion, he is currently holed up in Jamia Fareedia, a seminary in E-7, instead of his old haunts.

According to his announcement before he led the Fajr prayers, Abdul Aziz stated that the current principal of the seminary had been removed. Why he was removed or indeed, who ordered this change is anyone’s guess at this point. Whether the Maulana feels entitled to make the decision over who runs this seminary is a moot point, however. Where Aziz was once at loggerheads with the state, there are reports from inside the school that there is now also a tense standoff between the two groups of supporters for each cleric. There are also hints of weapons being present within the premises of the seminary. In short, this incident only needs the slightest spark to turn ugly really quickly, which is why the government must handle this delicately.

Maulana Aziz must be removed from the premises but the potential presence of ammunition at Jamia Fareedia necessitates negotiations before any action is taken. Once this latest stand-off has been averted, the next step would be to press charges against this dissident cleric, to ensure that this does not happen once again. No one has the right to take the capital hostage at a whim. The government must assert its writ and send a message by throwing the book at Maulana Abdul Aziz.