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Govt writ receding in capital, say CSOs

ISLAMABAD,Though a bit late, the local civil society organisations (CSOs) have registered their protest over the fast-receding government’s writ in the capital in which girl students of Jamia Hafsa kidnapped three women on charges of immoral activities.

Speaking at a press conference on Saturday, women rights activists from various CSOs demanded strict action against what they called proprietors of the ‘Mini Taliban State’ being set up in the capital to vacate public children’s library and establish law of the land.

The students of Lal Masjid-sponsored Jamia Hafsa are occupying the only public children’s library in the city for over two months and have threatened to attack other government buildings if their demands, which include rebuilding of all demolished mosques and release of their leaders, were not met.

In the latest episode of denying writ of the government, they took hostage three women on the charge of running a brothel. Later on they also impounded two police vehicles along with drivers when the police arrested two teachers of Jamia Hafsa. However, afterwards police and administration of Lal Masjid struck a deal to end the well-publicised showdown.

“Considering the intensity of incidents that have taken place in the last few months in Islamabad, it seems as if we are living some where in a restive town of Wana where local Taliban have established a state within the state,” they said.

On the occasion, a press statement was also handed over to mediapersons which carried the names of various NGOs including Women Action Forum, SDPI, Pattan, HRCP, Aurat Foundation, SPO, The Network and Sungi.

“We, the members of the civil society organisations, strongly condemn the kidnapping of the women and child by extremist students of Jamia Hafsa. We have been denouncing the capture of children’s library and demanding that the government take stern action against these extremist elements,” they said.

Referring to the self-proclaimed custodians of morality – students of Jamia Hafsa – they argued that these students were playing in the hands of a few whose only objective was to achieve their vested interests.

The law should take its course without any discrimination and no one should be allowed to take it in their hands, they said, when asked whether they endorsed the forceful eviction of the children’s library from the burqa-clad students.

“If tomorrow police come to the scene and they are welcomed with bullets, what the policemen would do in return,” Dr Farzana Bari of Pattan questioned.

The continuous failure of the government to establish the rule of law to correct the situation in the first place has led to the current situation where every citizen of the city in general and women and children in particular are threatened and suffer from insecurity, they said.

“We reject their attempt to enforce their misguided version of morality. It is a matter of great concern that the principal of Jamia Hafsa has stated in the newspaper that madressah students have been systematically maintaining a crime register and keeping an eye on all illegal activities in Islamabad,” they added.

Their latest attempt to interfere in people’s private lives and homes hacking local FM radio waves and threats to poor shopkeepers in highly condemnable.

In response to a question, Naeem Mirza of the Aurat Foundation said this was the natural outcome of the ongoing political crisis in the country, where the democratic forces had been pushed to the wall and extremist forces were being promoted both directly as well as indirectly.

Dr Saba Gul Khattak of the SDPI was of the view that after kidnapping three women on the charges of immoral activities they demanded release of their leader – who is also a former ISI official – and other accomplices which showed their motives. “They are definitely working on their own agenda and using religion for this purpose,” she said.

Source: Dawn

Date:4/1/2007

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