Mosque leader refuses to surrender as deadline set by Pakistani govt expires
16:17, July 04, 2007
|The second deadline set to the leaders and students of Lal Masjid, a mosque in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, and its affiliate women seminary Jamia Hafsa expired but one of the mosque leaders refused to obey the government's order.
Setting the 11:00 a.m. deadline, Pakistan's Secretary Information Syed Anwar Mehmood Wednesday told a news conference that the mosque and seminary leaders and students would be responsible for any consequences.
However, deputy of the seminary Abdul Rashid Ghazi said that his students would not surrender, calling for the withdrawal of troops.
He told a private TV channel that thousands of students were still present inside the mosque and seminary.
It was the second deadline set by the government to the students to surrender. It government earlier set 3:30 a.m. as the deadline, but later extended it to 11 a.m.
"The security forces will not open fire but will retaliate if the students fire on them," Mehmood said.
"We have communicated the deadline to the leaders and students through media and loudspeakers announcements," he said.
Mehmood said that a large number of students had contacted the authorities and the security forces were making arrangements for their safe exit.
He said that troops had been called out to help the police in any action but said that the operation would be responsibility of the interior ministry and the local Islamabad administration.
Early Wednesday, the Pakistani government decided to launch operation and impose curfew near the red mosque in the capital following Tuesday's bloodshed clashes between religious students and security forces.
Shoot order has been issued to those who come out armed from the mosque, Lal Masjid. And the government has ordered the mosque leaders to surrender.
According to the private Geo TV, Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf said that the deaths in Lal Masjid incident were quite deplorable.
A high-level meeting chaired by Musharraf discussed all options including operation against the Lal Masjid management.
The meeting also reviewed the public reaction in connection with the operation of Lal Masjid.
The clashes have killed at least nine people, including a security man, a journalist, three bystanders and four Islamist students, according to official figures.