ISLAMABAD - The standoff between the Lal Mosque management and the local administration on the reconstruction of Jamia Hafsa at its previous place was resolved on Thursday after the former accepted the offer of a 20-kanal piece of land for this seminary in H-11 Sector by the latter.

The issue had got attention nationally and internationally reminding many of the miseries of military operation ‘Sunrise’ in 2007 soon after the chief cleric of Lal Mosque Maulana Abdul Aziz on December 16 had announced during his Friday sermon that Jamia Hafsa building would be reconstructed at the same place where it was demolished in the light of Supreme Court decision. Jamia Hafsa, a women seminary, and a children public library had been demolished as a result of the military operation in Musharraf regime besides the killing of dozens of seminary students.

However, this time the local administration succeeded in handling the issue in an amicable manner without firing a single bullet, though the Lal Mosque administration managed to get a large piece of land of costly 20 kanals in place of previous 5-marla land adjacent to Lal Mosque. CDA had cancelled the allocated plot in the name of Jamia Hafsa after the operation.

Maulana Abdul Aziz at a press briefing told the media that the issue had been settled with the efforts of Interior Minister Rehman Malik and property tycoon Malik Riaz. He further said that the Lal Mosque management had reached an agreement with the local administration as a result of which 20 kanals of land would be allocated for the reconstruction of seminary building in H-11 near graveyard. “We have also okayed the proposed site as it is near to the graves of martyrs of Lal Mosque and Jamia Hafsa,” he added.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik had constituted a four-member committee comprising Chief Commissioner Islamabad, Deputy Commissioner Islamabad and a representative each of ICT Police and Capital Development Authority (CDA) to hold negotiations with the Lal Mosque management. Moulana Aziz and his spouse Ummeh Hassan from the mosque management remained engaged in the negotiations with the committee throughout the week.

The Lal Mosque management, last Friday, had postponed the decision of foundation stone-laying ceremony for a week on the assurance of the Interior Minister that the issue would be resolved soon with the consensus of all stakeholders. The management had announced that the foundation stone-laying ceremony would be held on coming Friday (today) come what may.

When contacted, Deputy Commissioner Islamabad Amer Ali Ahmed confirmed that the administration had reached an agreement with the mosque management.

A source in the local administration informed that Maulana Aziz had put three conditions before the four-member committee. He had demanded of the administration that they should be given back the original piece of the land at which Jamia Hafsa was situated prior to its demolition as well as the other land where the public library was located. Secondly, he had insisted that the government should make arrangements in terms of money for the construction of seminary building in the light of SC decision or some reasonable compensation money should be given to the seminary administration for this purpose.

Thirdly, he had demanded that the government should reconstruct all nine seminaries, affiliated with Lal Mosque management, in the capital that were demolished by CDA in an anti-encroachments drive before the military operation.

An official of the Administration informed that Lal Mosque administration withdrew its two conditions after successful negotiations with Mualana Abdul Aziz that a 20-kanal piece of land in Sector H-11 would be allocated to the seminary. CDA had also offered a two-kanal plot in Sector H-8 on the backside of a private school but the mosque management rejected the offer.

However, the four-member committee agreed that the vacant plot adjacent to the premises of Lal Mosque would neither be auctioned nor any building would be constructed on it. However, this plot could be used for the expansion of the mosque in future.

A person connected with the Lal Mosque management on the condition of anonymity said that the Chief Commissioner Islamabad had assured them that they could construct a nine-storey building on the proposed site. The assurance could trigger another controversy, as perhaps CDA by-laws might not allow the construction of such multi-storey construction there.

On the other side, the spokesman of the CDA said that the local administration had not yet intimated the Authority about any such agreement. An official of CDA Planning Wing also said that the CDA representative had not signed the agreement that gave rise to the speculations that the Authority was not fully on board with the ICT administration.