After three days of negotiations, the government and Maulana Abdul Aziz have come to a settlement and the siege at Lal Masjid has been lifted. Out of the four demands posed initially –Aziz’s reinstatement as khateeb of the mosque, possession of a plot of the old children’s library, Rs 250 million and land for Jamia Hafsa – only the last was accepted.

The government has swiftly smoothened out an issue that has in the past, led to violence and it must be praised for this. Only three days of decisive negotiations are indicative of the government’s attempts to come up with a quick resolution. The story had barely started doing rounds in the media and the public over the weekend, but a failure to conclude this matter by Sunday might have resulted in greater general outcry.

It clearly did not take much for Aziz to end the sit-in after all, which only poses questions of his intentions in occupying Lal Masjid once again. If all of this was only over granting an additional 20 kanals for a seminary, what made Abdul Aziz presume that this exaggerated and unnecessary action was the only way to get himself heard? Why did he not just ask?

Diverting security apparatus towards Lal Masjid, becoming a source of embarrassment for the country and also making the government look bad for no reason only tells us that Maulana Abdul Aziz was being confrontational for the sake of it. Maybe he was looking to get a little attention, but regardless, it is hoped that at the end of these negotiations, he was warned of not testing the limits or patience of the state ever again.

While this matter has been resolved for now, it is hoped that the government takes steps to ensure that a repeat incident is no longer possible for Abdul Aziz and his supporters. The Auqaf Department must also use this opportunity to appoint a cleric that can carve his own space in Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa.

Judging by the fact that Maulana Abdul Aziz managed to rouse the support of an estimated hundred female students of Jamia Hafsa, it is clear that he still maintains a strong control over the ideology at the madressah.

There have been countless examples in the past of his willingness to use those under his tutelage for political ends. Using the youth as a shield while challenging the writ of the state and putting them in harm’s way must not be permissible under any circumstances. Let us hope that this is the last time Maulana Abdul Aziz has made headlines for all the wrong reasons.